There are 2 billion young people in the world.
Out of those 2 billion, only 1,300 young people – the best and brightest from their organizations, companies, industries, and countries – receive the privilege of attending the most prestigious and inclusive event for young people – the annual One Young World Summit.
Out of those 1,300 delegates, only 30 young voices are cast to the One Young World stage to share their unique and astounding stories as Delegate Speakers.
In a way, those 30 represent the 2 billion young people through One Young World. They represent the faces, the struggles, the conflict, the energy, the enthusiasm, the passions, and the emotions of the planet’s future. It’s a tremendous honor and a heavy responsibility.
At last year's Summit, I was one of those 30 delegate speakers.
I had never been to One Young World prior to last year. I was given the opportunity to come only because I had gotten a scholarship to attend. I was a mere college student who worked at a small non-profit organization in my home country, the Philippines. I never expected to be accepted as one of the Delegate Speakers.
However, I had one thing I carried with me that eventually got me on the One Young World stage: a story. You see, in a time of conflict in many parts of the world, all my life has been a testament to the power of peace.
My Christian father and my Muslim mother have lived and loved together for 20 years without converting each other. With them, I founded a non-profit organization called KRIS Library that builds peace libraries in areas affected by conflict and poverty in my country. Our goal is to bring children from different religious and cultural backgrounds in these libraries so that they can share books, knowledge, space, and, eventually, passions and dreams.
The libraries also addressed the lack of educational resources and activities in communities affected by conflict. This underscores our belief that providing better opportunities to educate and empower young people can dissuade them from becoming involved in violence and extremism.
This simple of story of peace propelled me to deliver a speech in the Peace & Security Plenary Session. I was introduced by no less than Hope Solo, and, to my surprise, the audience responded to my speech with a standing ovation. It was literally one of the best days of my life.
Little did I know that my One Young World speech only served as the beginning of many things to come. Immediately after my speech, I was greeted by people who proposed their help and support for KRIS. I was interviewed for both local and international newspapers and magazines for my work. This year, I joined a council of 10 young leaders working to counter violent extremism under an initiative by the Kofi Annan Foundation, which will once again bring me to the One Young World Summit in Ottawa this year.
However, my One Young World speech was not just a story. It also served as a promise: the story that propelled me to the One Young World stage should not have an ending. The minute I returned to my country, I decided that my story must continue to be written a little more every day until I am able to say that I have truly been an agent of change for this young world.
I did not know it then, but being a One Young World Delegate Speaker was more than being a representative of 2 billion. It was being an inspiration for that 2 billion, so that my single voice can be turned into the action of billions.
Follow this link to apply to be a Delegate Speaker at the One Young World Summit 2016 in Ottawa.