I received the news about being awarded an All Bar None place, to represent my country St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while I was on a volunteer assignment in Ghana. I was happy and honoured to receive the funding. Being awarded the place was a sigh of relief, as instead I would have had to immediately lunge into yet another fundraising campaign.
Although I was grateful for the award, the excitement really hit me when the One Young World 2013 Johannesburg Facebook group was created. Many delegates interacted with each other for the first time and arranged meetings to share ideas and partner on projects. I realised then that this was going to be an awesome worldly event.
The most impactful moment for me at the Summit was the call by UK Ambassador James Eder to learn and excel through failure. His words taught me that I am enough, I have enough and there is no reason why I can’t step out and make change now. It was the exact message I needed to hear because, at that time, I was just sitting on my ideas with the fear that I am not yet ready to pursue them.
I am well traveled, however the Summit was the first time I felt globally connected, where I really became aware of how far my reach can be. Bangladesh is not in another world far away. I can create opportunities for a community group in Jalingo Nigeria. I became more interested in challenges beyond my Caribbean region and supported initiatives globally because I can no longer pretend that I don’t have a role to play. The plight of underprivileged and disadvantaged groups, despite the country, does affect me.
With the understanding that I too am affected by my neighbour’s challenges, Professor Muhammad Yunus’ matter-of-fact introduction made it clear that there is no invisible hand or magic wand. We cannot look to our governments or point to each other. It is ‘you’ and ‘me’ that hold this wonderful key to unlock progress and prosperity for others. This self-realisation and a higher level of social consciousness to take action swept into me.
The Summit’s schedule is tightly packed and it’s advisable to reach out, connect and arrange meetings prior to the event.
An engaging conversation with a UK delegate would turned out to be the building blocks of a partnership. Only upon sharing our ideas did Barbara Kasumu and I realise we had made arrangements on the Facebook group to meet and had in fact taken animated and amusing photos with others the day before! This became a lasting serendipitous interaction as Barbara Kasumu, my colleagues and I in the Caribbean are now preparing to launch I am Visible in the Caribbean. I am Visible is a mentoring platform that highlights women who are great role models and connect them with young girls as mentors.
Following the Summit, I gained the confidence to seek investment for two of my businesses and established the Camp-US Foundation. The Foundation seeks to transform the lives of children and youth in underserved communities by helping them recognise their potential, their importance and to think globally. In the summer of 2014 the Foundation will host the Camp-US Transformers, a summer institute for personal development and policy debate.
The All Bar None scholarship helped to bridge gaps and formed new ties between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other countries. I proudly introduced my country for the first time to many people and left them with information from our Ministry of Tourism. I too walked away with new knowledge of traditions and cultures, particularly from the lens of modern day youth.
The Summit, in my view, is an international trade fair for young people committed to social change. Connecting and networking is how it’s done. Therefore, incoming delegates should take advantage of the night owl and early bird sessions, breakfasts and lunches to meet with other delegates.
I now have the opportunity to engage in global partnership as a result and will always express my thanks to One Young World.
You don’t need to wait for encouragement to apply for the All Bar None Scholarship, find out how to apply today!
Shalisha waving the flag of St. Vincent and the Grenadines