The Kofi Annan Dialogues: Live – Seizing The Opportunity

Ambassador from Belize, Alberto Matus on his experience taking part in one of the Kofi Annan Dialogues: Live pilots.


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Whenever I'm approached and asked about One Young World, I always feel a sense of both pride and passion. I'm proud and passionate to be a member of something bigger than myself, which works towards the principles of pro-activity and the commitment to better our communities. Each and every one of us involved has an important role to play. Founder, Counsellor, or Ambassador, we all help to create and shape every aspect of what truly makes One Young World.


Behind every answer to a question, I always tend to emphasize that One Young World is a platform filled with endless opportunities. Whether it is an opportunity to be inspired, share an idea, be part of an action or a global active community. As a One Young World Ambassador, I think it’s my duty and responsibility to seize each and every opportunity presented. As Ambassadors, we are obliged to share the knowledge and experiences we have gained to the members of our communities.


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               (Above: Alberto Matus speaking at the 2012 Summit in Pittsburgh)


I was recently fortunate enough to be selected to directly engage with one of the most distinguished leaders of our time, Kofi Annan. Thrilled and overjoyed, I had to seize the opportunity and make the most of it. It reminded me of the excitement I felt when I was chosen to represent my country at the 2012 Summit in Pittsburgh.


The dialogue was part of a facilitated pilot series between young leaders from around the world and Mr. Annan. The Kofi Annan Dialogues: Live is conducted via Google Hangout, Google’s powerful video conferencing platform. As an ICT enthusiast, I was intrigued to see how technology allows even top leaders to share brilliant ideas with us.


The Hangout consisted of an interactive Q&A between eight young leaders from different regions of the world. Spanish Ambassador, Ester Botica and I once again found ourselves gaining invaluable knowledge as we did when we were introduced to our Counsellors back in Pittsburgh. Alongside us were Ambassadors from the United States, United Kingdom, India, Ghana, and South Africa.


The purpose of the dialogue was for Mr. Annan to share the invaluable knowledge that he has gained from his many years of public service with the next generation of world leaders, to inspire them into public service and enable them to create positive change. Our session was focused on Education, Opportunity and Employment. Mr. Annan was keen to hear innovative and fresh ideas from all the Ambassadors and to provide feasible and realistic solutions to the issues being addressed.


The discussion ranged from Spain's economic crisis to alternative educational paths. It's particularly baffling how we can all live in different countries of different statures and find that the struggles of those in a developing country are not very different to those of a developed country.


Our generation is more educated than any of the previous ones but we still struggle to find jobs. Every country faces its own challenges, but I had to agree with what was stated in the dialogue. Young people can be a great source of innovation and creativity, they can help to generate growth and create enterprise. We need to inspire the younger generation to create more start-up businesses and become more entrepreneurial. Mr. Annan applauded the idea of vocational training. Vocational training should be seen as a viable alternative to secondary or tertiary education where possible or needed. It is time to break down the barrier of traditional thinking and start acting on what actually works today.


So many different ideas were discussed in one hour, an hour packed with knowledge and intellect - too much to write about in a single blog post. One thing is for sure, to be given counsel from a person of Mr. Annan's stature is an honour and a privilege.  He was very attentive in listening to every question or idea brought to the table, and answered them profoundly. His reasoning and answers to our questions should be taken with respect and listened to carefully.


As the session addressed Education, Opportunity and Employment, I know that the insights gained will truly help me in many aspects of my work in Belize. One of the main focuses of my work has been to provide equal access for all, that is to help provide primary school students with access to the internet and ICT infrastructure in their schools. The aim of the project is to implement low cost, internet-connected computer systems for all primary school teachers and students in Belize. Visit if you're interested in learning more about the project, or contact me directly at [email protected] to learn about its current status or partnering with the movement. I hope that, in the future, it will address education and provide employment opportunities for the students in Belize.


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               (Above: screenshot from Alberto’s pilot Hangout with Mr. Annan)


It was such an honour to be a part of this amazing opportunity. I thank One Young World for providing me with this huge privilege and the confidence to be a part of these extremely exciting dialogues. I implore the Ambassador community to seize every opportunity provided by One Young World, but to also share the insights and knowledge learned from them with our communities. As Mr. Annan said at the 2012 Pittsburgh Summit “Wherever we are, we can make a difference. It starts in your community, it starts at home, it starts in your universities and schools. We should not always aim to go and tackle the big issues that are confronting us. If each us did a bit collectively we'd make a difference, and nobody starts right from the beginning by tackling the big issues. We all start at some level and move on.” I'm sure that, as the Kofi Annan Foundation and One Young World hope, The Kofi Annan Dialogues will be preserved as a resource for teachers and historians in years to come.

Published on 10/05/2013