Jordan has always been drawn to working with young people. A Harvard University grad, Jordan taught English in Italy, South Africa, and the United States, as well as in Brazil as part of a Fulbright scholarship.
It should come as no surprise, then, that she found a path to her job at EF Education First with a desire to focus on one thing: students.
“I love working with students,” Jordan says. “I love thinking from their perspective, discovering what makes them tick, what inspires them, what challenges them. They truly have wisdom beyond their years.”
Jordan is the Senior Manager of Educational Programming for EF Educational Tours, where she helps develop content and activities for students attending EF Global Leadership Summits. The Summit series helps students to develop skills like critical thinking and cross-cultural competency while working with peers around the world to develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges. Past Summits have looked at environmental sustainability with Al Gore and Jane Goodall in Costa Rica, the future of education with Sir Ken Robinson in Davos, and the future of energy with former Energy Secretary and Nobel Laureate Dr. Steven Chu in Iceland.
“Any activity that students do or that impacts them in some way during the Summit, that’s my wheelhouse,” Jordan explains. This involves everything from creating reflection activities throughout the event, designing team challenges for students to get to know each other, and finding partner organizations to lead thematic workshops.
“A huge part of my role is finding the right organizations to partner with at the Summit—ones that will introduce new perspectives in both thoughtful and exciting ways,” says Jordan. “It’s working with them to develop workshop content that’s really hands-on and interactive, to have students collaborate with each other, design innovative prototypes, and practice new skills. I love being that bridge between students and these partner organizations.” Partners like the African Leadership Academy, Possible Project, and Imperfect Produce have helped bring global issues to life for students at previous Summits.
Jordan says that the Summit experience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students. “I’m really passionate about what the Summits offer,” she says. “Not many students have the opportunity to go to an international leadership conference. To be able to practice innovative thinking with students across the world, to hear from keynote speakers, and to be part of hands-on experiences about industries that connect to a global challenge—it’s really interesting stuff!”
Jordan’s work helps students walk away from a Summit with new ideas and perspectives. In addition to planning content for students, she also manages the Summit Student Internship program and the Global Citizen Scholarship winners, students who have won their trip to the Summit based on meaningful project work. “I want to encourage students to explore what types of leaders they want to be and to remind them that each is a leader in their own right.”
The change in students is particularly evident in the moments leading up to the Innovation Village, Jordan says, where the student groups who have been working together all weekend present their prototypes and pitch their ideas in front of their peers. The top two teams have their prototypes exhibited in the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.
“My favorite part is that 45 minutes leading up to the Innovation Village,” Jordan says. “It’s fun, it’s messy, and there’s this exciting energy in the air—a sense of drive and friendly competition. It’s really there where each student on a team is able to shine in their own way.”
It’s helping empower students to find their voice that gives Jordan such fulfillment. “If there’s anything I want to do in my career, it’s to find youth ways to rise in different spaces and different moments, to have them know that their voice really matters. I love seeing that happen at the Summit—it’s a special thing to be able to witness.”
This year’s Summit is about the influence of technology on society, and Jordan hopes that students walk away from the experience with a broader definition of technology. “They’re digital natives—we really want to push and challenge them to think beyond the technology they’ve had access to their whole lives,” says Jordan. “Technology is vast, it’s often more about problem solving and identifying small tweaks that can have a huge impact. We want students to see that tech is everywhere and affects us all in really different ways.”
Jordan believes that the EF Global Leadership Summits not only foster new ways of thinking, but a greater sense of understanding. “More so than ever before, it’s important to provide students with opportunities to connect with people who may have a completely different background than themselves,” she says. “We want them to explore, to question their own thinking, and to spend time in a different cultural space. Helping young people think about who they are and how they want to interact with the world around them—that’s valuable and inspiring work to be a part of.”