Welcoming One Young World to Ottawa

[[[image 2-small left]]] As the outgoing North American Coordinating Ambassador to One Young World, Emma currently serves as the Founding Director of World Merit Canada and has previously been featured as a panelist and presenter at the UNESCO Chair & Institute of Comparative Human Rights Intergenerational Forum.


When I was first introduced to One Young World, I was living two thousand kilometers from home for an internship and decided to take the plunge and apply, the worst that could happen was that I wouldn’t be accepted. A month later, I received the email that told me I was shortlisted as a delegate and that I needed to find funding – a tall order for a twenty-something in their final year of university. My subsequent fundraising journey made a tremendous impact on me as it illustrated how lucky I was to live in a city – and country – that placed so much value in their youth, and I raised enough to cover my entire delegate fee and flight in just three weeks thanks to multiple corporate sponsors and countless more private donors.

Arriving at my first One Young World Summit in Dublin in the fall of 2014 was a whirlwind to say the least. I was confronted with a new perspective on issues due to the depth of conversation at the Summit. In particular, the Plenary Session on Human Rights introduced me to practical applications of what I had spent the previous three years studying. Hearing about human rights issues in a lecture hall is much more one-dimensional than hearing delegates from around the world share how human rights impacts them personally in their daily lives- something I had only learned about in textbooks until this point.

Beyond being introduced to an array of issues, the opportunities for networking were endless. As I met new people everyday, I was stunned by the amount of positivity that I experienced as soon as someone I met found out I was Canadian – a trend that continued through my second Summit attendance at Bangkok 2015. I was proud to say that every person I met was representing a nationality that was also strongly represented within my own country’s population. Canada is a cultural mosaic, not a melting pot. We believe that people have enough room in their hearts to love Canada and their own country just the same. We placed tremendous value in our youth, and we are a world leader in health care and education. Our continuous improvement and progress is only made possible by those families from around the globe who choose Canada as their destination to build a new home in which to explore and share their talents.

Three days packed full of sessions put my entire undergraduate career in context, and pushed me to become more heavily involved globally. This journey led me to found World Merit’s Canadian Country Office, where through educative advocacy and social campaigns I, along with a network of nearly 100,000 changemakers around the globe, collaborate for good. Less than a week after my graduation from university, armed with my degree and a range of practical experience through my involvement with both One Young World and World Merit, I attended the UNESCO Chair & Institute of Comparative Human Rights Intergenerational Forum in Cape Town, South Africa as a panelist and presenter on the topic of global grassroots organizing and cross-cultural partnership development.

Looking forward to the 2016 Summit in Ottawa this fall, I am confident that our cultural diversity and socially-conscious, democratic ideas will reflect well on the participating delegates. Canada is not perfect, but I truly believe that, as a nation, we collectively strive to uphold those same values and principles that One Young World also aspires to. To know that thousands of passionate young people will this year converge on my nation’s capital gives me great pride, and I am confident that the upcoming Summit has the potential to change the professional trajectory of each and every delegate the way it changed my own - for the better.