Why You Should Attend ISLC

ISLC Throughout the Years Take a look at all the fun memories Operation Smile Student Programs has made throughout the years. As well as, hear from previous students who went to ISLC and what they learned and enjoyed during their
10 MIN

ISLC Throughout the Years

Take a look at all the fun memories Operation Smile Student Programs has made throughout the years. As well as, hear from previous students who went to ISLC and what they learned and enjoyed during their time at this conference. If you’re still debating on whether or not to a apply, please take the time to read previous student’s responses. The application deadline is March 13th so there is still time to apply. Click here for more information regarding this year’s ISLC in Miami!

By Jordan Griffith, Student programs media Intern

We reached out to previous high school students who attended our ISLC conferences in the past to see what they had to say. Most described it at a chance to get more involved in their school and community, while others felt themselves becoming apart of something bigger than themselves.

Let’s hear what our Previous ISLC Participants had to say


When did you attend ISLC and where was it?

“I attended three ISLC’s in Rome, Italy; Seattle, Washington; and Wake Forest, North Carolina.” – Deme Malbon

“I was lucky enough to have attended 3 ISLCs. My first was in 2016 in San Diego at SDSU and then again in Rome in 2017, and then my last one was in 2019 at Wake Forest university where I was a team leader.” – Camille Michalak

“I have attended four ISLC’s throughout my high school career. The first one I attended was the summer going into my sophomore year of college and it was in California. The next ISLC I attended was in Rome, Italy. For the next summer, I was an assistant team leader at ISLC which took place in Seattle, Washington. I became a team leader for the last ISLC I attended which was in North Carolina at Wake Forest University.” – Nadia Farashahi

“I attended ISLC 2019 at Wake Forest University, North Carolina.” – Jordan Griffith

What was your biggest take away from ISLC?

“I learned a lot about so many different things while at all three of my international student leadership conferences, but the most important takeaway was learning the value of friendship and what it means to be globally connected while at a conference with students from all around the globe.” – Deme Malbon

“My biggest takeaway from ISLC is definitely that Operation Smile is an organization full of willing and giving people and how much you put in is really what you get out. If you have a great idea that would help the people in need of surgery or Operation as a hole they are so willing to pursue that despite what ever role or stage you are at being that we are all students.” – Camille Michalak

“My biggest take away from ISLC is that it doesn’t matter that we are only students, there is a world out there that is ready for us and there is nothing we can’t do. ISLC taught me that we can make a difference in people’s lives. I learned so many skills on how to be a leader in not only Operation Smile but also life in general. ISLC brought together so many different individuals from all over the world who were all there to support the same cause with the same goal in mind and that is something that will always be so special to me.” -Nadia Farashahi

“My biggest take away from ISLC is that Operation Smile is an organization that firmly believes and entrusts students to cultivate change in their own community, representing the name Operation Smile. They want to educate students and want them to share their stories in hopes that it inspires someone else to join the change. As my now mentor Bethany Bogacki has stated “there is a power in storytelling.” Operation Smile isn’t just a program for students interested in the medical field. There are so many other aspects that make Operation Smile possible. For instance, a financial team, a marketing team, and a legal team. All things I never considered before this conference. You really feel this togetherness and support from everyone there. It’s one thing hearing about people aspiring to make change, but actually being there and seeing students from across the world. You begin to understand with every conversation that you share this ability to be apart of something bigger than yourself”.” – Jordan Griffith

Why would you encourage other high school students to apply?

“I would encourage anyone in high school to consider applying because you will 100% make long lasting relationships with so many interesting people for the rest of your life. I have met so many people through Operation Smile’s ISLC and still remain in contact with them today as a sophomore in college.” – Deme Malbon

“I encourage others to apply because you really make friendships from all over the world, have a blast, and find a community in which you can surround yourself with likeminded and motivated peers to do good in the world.” – Camille Michalak

“I would encourage other high school students to apply because ISLC is a great opportunity to be apart of something bigger than yourself. And I know that is a cheesy line that is always used but it is honestly true. Not only is it the most fun and exciting week with so much to do, but its also a great way to make a change. We are all so lucky and blessed to be where we are in life and its important to always remember that and find ways to help others as well. You get to meet so many different people from so many different cultures and you will keep these friendships and connections for the rest of your life.” -Nadia Farashahi

“I would encourage other high school students to apply because it’s not only a great opportunity to learn more about Operation Smile as an organization, but you learn from the people around you. Going to this conference and hearing from keynote speakers on different organizations that are similar to Operation Smile’s mission, different ways to use positive thinking, discussing ideas with others left me more inspired to start my own club at my high school. You really learn more about yourself in this one week ,especially before college. Living on a college campus, navigating a new area, meeting new people etc. You learn some independence. You meet people from all over the world who you connect with. These friendships and memories are some of the best memories I had before beginning college.” -Jordan Griffith

What is your favorite memory from ISLC?

“My favorite memory of ISLC is dressing up for the team game days and bonding as a group. During the Rome conference I became so close with my team right away and even though we did not pull through to win the team games, we created memories with one another that will last a lifetime (while looking the best) haha our Team Leader had made us matching headbands with our team name on them that were a very intimidating factor to out opponents!
I still have that headband today and think about all the fun times I had in Rome when I look at it.” -Deme Malbon

“My favorite memory from ISLC is definitely having to choreograph our chant as team captain and all the laughs we had creating and preforming it.” – Camille Michalak

“It’s hard to pick just one favorite memory from all my ISLC’s because I honestly enjoyed every minute of all of them. However, my favorite memory overall would have to be ISLC talent show in Rome, Italy. It was so amazing to see so many different student volunteers from so many different countries show off their skills and culture. There was dances, singing, and all of the above. I remember sitting there in that auditorium watching everyone perform and just being in awe at the diversity and uniqueness before me.” -Nadia Farashahi

“It’s so hard to think of just one so I’ll name a few. I would say the social media activities they had us do in our group. Specifically the what does Operation Smile mean to us video. There were so many laughs that went into making this video. Having everyone watch it in the auditorium was even funnier. Probably another one would have to be the team games. It was a competition to see who could win at the end of the day. I also remember picking out Operation Smile merchandise from different school clubs that brought them to sell. But above all I was able to make friendships with so many people from so many different countries.” – Jordan Griffith

What does ISLC mean to you?

“ISLC is a great opportunity to broaden your horizons and step outside of your comfort zone into a group of other students your age who are also a part of this wonderful, new experience. ISLC is about meeting new people and connecting through everyone’s passion for service and helping those less fortunate. ISLC is a place where everyone is encouraged to be themselves and collaborate by using individual skills to create a plan to help others. I loved every minute of my time as a student at ISLC and will cherish the friendships I have formed over the years for the rest of my life.” – Deme Malbon

“To me ISLC means friendship and being a part of something bigger than yourself to help others across the world. Nothing feels better than giving your time to an organization like Operation Smile and the time you do put in is beyond rewarding.” – Camille Michalak

“ISLC is so important to me and always will be. I truly will never forget the memories and people that I met each year. It provided me with an opportunity to learn about how I can make the change in my community and I got to do it side by side with the most amazing people. I think I had a smile on my face 24/7 each ISLC week.” -Nadia Farashahi

“ISLC means being apart of something bigger than yourself and it provides you the opportunity to grow as an individual and volunteer. By choosing to be apart of this community you will find yourself being able to connect to others so easily through this organization. It is so important to go out of your comfort zone. I know I’m happy I did.” -Jordan Griffith

Jordan is a Student Programs’ media intern and president of Virginia Tech’s Operation Smile chapter. She has been involved with Operation Smile for almost six years; she first learned about the organization through one of her best friends when she lived in Southern California. Since then, she has found a passion for assisting others and engaging with individuals who share an interest in being leaders in their communities.