Iris Wan is a One Young World Ambassador from Hong Kong. She was a Development Officer for The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, one of Hong Kong’s main youth work organisations. Feel free to reach her at [email protected].
After having the most incredible, thought provoking, emotional and almost surreal four days of my life, I was left with an unsettling question in my head: “NOW WHAT?”
Last year, I was fortunate enough to be selected as a delegate from Barclay’s charity to represent non-profits in Hong Kong. As soon as I arrived Bangkok, I was introduced to other charity delegates. Great start? More like, overwhelmed.
You see, when you are in a room filled with delegates from countries that are politically unstable, where Internet is a luxury and children work instead of go to school, how do you answer the question: “So tell me about Hong Kong” as a person from a place that ranks top 50 in the world (in terms of GDP)? I mean, some of these people’s countries are sinking and will actually disappear during their lifetime if we don’t do anything about it. In light of this, am I still going to sit there and talk about high housing prices?
I felt small. Not just because I was from a small place, but also because I was probably in a more fortunate situation than most of the 1300 delegates, yet I didn’t know what I could do to make their lives better, as a fellow delegate, as a friend or as a person living in the same world.
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Instead of letting this feeling consume me for the rest of the Summit, it made me even more determined to make something out of my experience at One Young World.
Fast forward 8 months, I found myself sitting in a local dai pai dong (a street style restaurant) in Hong Kong sweating like crazy in my business dress but having the most meaningful conversations with nine awesome global youth leaders after they have just shared their stories with hundreds of local youth:
Theresa -inventor of The Drinkable Book
Max – founder of The Street Store
Mark -hairstylist for the homeless and founder of #BeAwesomeToSomebodyFoundation…
AND among the nine young leaders, four were fellow One Young World Ambassadors who were already doing amazing things when we met in Bangkok:
This was my “NOW WHAT”.
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With the support of The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, the non-profit that I worked for, I was able to bring nine global young leaders and One Young World Ambassadors to Hong Kong to inspire over 6,000 young people face-to- face.
During their 10-day stay, they met with government officials and prominent community leaders of different fields to discuss global issues and local solutions, explored collaborations with local young leaders, co-created community events for the homeless and low income, held workshops and talks for students, and of course, gained first hand experience of both mainland China and Hong Kong.
This programme has received much attention via the media not only in Hong Kong, but also in Mexico (thanks to Ana!), and of course via the nina young leaders’ networks and social media (thanks to their tremendous contribution to the programme!).
I’m proud to announce that after the pilot run, this programme, now named “Leaders to Leaders” will be held twice a year to bring more outstanding global young leaders to Hong Kong. My aim is that it will be able to inspire more ideas and actions that will make the world a better place and also provide themselves with new insights for their projects.
Why did I do this? My experience at Day 1 of One Young World made me realise that as much as I wanted to, there was no way I could solve all the problems of the 196 countries that were present. But as one of my favourite sayings goes “The fact that you can only do a little is no excuse for doing nothing”, so I thought, maybe the “little” that I could do was to connect people with problems with people who might have the solution or resources to solve them. So I did what I do best and love doing: making friends and then connecting them- as simple as that!
How did I do this? Here are some tips that worked for me, hope upcoming delegates will find them useful. If you have other tips, please share!
1. Figure out your topic of interest/expertise and make a list of people who might bring insights and resources. For me it was youth development, so I listed out non-profits founders/employees, educators, people with money, etc.). Of course it’s best to go in with a concrete idea in mind, but if you don’t, at least have a direction of what you wish to achieve, it helps to list out 3 things and work towards that.
2. Get connected. Before the Summit, you should receive many invitations including posting your profile online, joining an app (it was an app called Convene last year), joining a Facebook group, etc... join them! Then try to identify people you have put in the list above. I found it helpful to browse the delegates’ LinkedIn profiles (so update yours too, help others find you!) to get a brief idea of what they do and then reach out to the right ones
3. Arrange a meetup during the Summit. In my case, I organised two group meetups and many one-on-ones. The key here is to follow through and you will be overwhelmed by everything that’s happening around you when you get there, and so will others! It will seem like everyone has forgotten about it and maybe some really have, but don’t worry, just keep refreshing their memory by sending reminders. For group meetups, even if it seems that people are dropping out because of other engagements, don’t ever change date and time. There will never be a time that fits everyone’s schedule and it will mess up other people’s plans, just go with it and keep inviting new people you meet along the way.
4. Organise follow-up meetups. If the first meetup goes well and you see potential in working something out, organise a follow up so you can get into details and conceptualise ideas, it also helps to get to know the person better before considering working together.
5. Share your cause once you return home. Finally, when you return to your own country, reach out to organisations that may be interested in supporting your idea. If you were lucky enough to be selected by your organisation to attend, don’t take it for granted. Keep them updated during the Summit and make sure to thank them afterwards. It will also be the best time to bring up your ideas and seek their feedback.
Either your idea is invincible or you’re super lucky, but most likely it will take more than one attempt to make an idea happen, no matter what happens, just keep asking yourself this question:
All the best and go make the world a better place!