The first of many reflections...

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Hello everyone!

It has been a truly manic month since the summit and the experiences I had there are still sinking in. Mohammed and I saw, heard and tried things we never thought we would. This is my blog post on what I have taken from the summit, and how this has changed my outlook on the world since coming home.

To start with, the Opening ceremony was astounding. It took place on Parliament hill, outside, with a 360 degree view on Ottawa's 'best bits' of architecture. In the space of a couple of hours we had seen Prof. Muhammad Yunis, Kofi Annan, Emma Watson, Meghan Markle and been addressed directly by Justin Trudeau. Trudeau introduced himself as Canada's Youth minister, and took the opportunity to introduce his new Youth Council. His approach to his introduction forced you to accept that he is serious about young people, young leaders and the need for change. We then had the flag ceremony, which really showed the volume of countries we had represented at the summit. This was followed by a light parade through the city which ended at the Shaw centre, where most of the sessions took place. We were all treated to some Poutine* and had our first opportunity to network.

*Basically; cheese, chips and gravy. Canada's national dish, would definitely recommend!

Then we launched into it. It has taken me a month to get around to writing this post because the dust has only just settled around all that I saw. We began at 8am on the Wednesday morning, and didn't stop until 10pm on the Saturday night. We covered mental health, equality, technology, clean water access, terrorism, peace, education, disability rights, LBGTQ+ rights, health, the environment and human displacement. This is to name a few. I have picked three experiences to talk about, I cannot even say they are highlights because every talk, plenary session and discussion was as powerful and impactful as the last.

I will start with Yolanda Joab, a new mother who came from Micronesia to speak on a delegate panel about the effect global warming and rising sea levels is having on her community. A community which sits just one metre above sea level. I  have put her address below, I really challenge you to not get goose bumps and feel fired up after watching this. The cheers which came up after this were huge, and it is magical to think that of the people in that room (from BMW, BP, Shell, Google, Facebook and Barclays to name a selection) really do have the chance within their networks to change global player's views on the importance of saving our planet.

Another experience I loved was my external breakout session. I chose to attend the 613 refugee talk, which was attended by around 50 other delegates. The session took place in a theatre underneath a church around 20 minutes outside the city centre. I learnt about how Canada are adapting and changing and welcoming those who need it most. They have a system in Canada where you can choose, as an individual, work place or group to sponsor a single or a family of refugees to come and live in your community. This is a huge responsibility for the people of Canada to take on but more and more people are doing it. I spoke to two separate couples who had had great outcomes from the scheme. As a sponsor you commit to funding for the first year of providing housing, healthcare, schooling and integration into the community. As a result, those who come feel thoroughly welcomed and part of the community.

The session closed with the sponsored refuges talking about their experience in coming into the country this way, and the gratitude radiated off them. The real difference I found with this scheme from others is that those moving to the country felt like active and valued members of the community. Each had a horror of a journey to make it to where they were and it was so touching to witness the real affection the sponsors and recipients had for each other. By putting the power to welcome into the hands of the people the Government has made it so much easier for those who need to access the country to be able to.

I will close with Emma Watson's session, because that is definitely the number one thing I have been asked about since coming home! In short; she was incredible. Not because she is Emma Watson, not because she has spoken at the UN (even though this is 100% noteworthy) but because of the way she used her platform. She used her position of incredible influence to allow those making change in their communities to have a voice. She is a delegate sponsor and chose a handful of representatives to join her on stage and share what they are doing. This is what I loved about her part, she sat down and ran a session on hugely topical issues such as domestic violence, LGBTQ+ rights and gender equality with young people who are on the frontline of fighting these issues everyday. Her introductory talk was powerful, graceful and (I have to use the word somewhere in her part!) magical. I have provided a link below to ELLE magazine's coverage of her talk, partly to show how great it was but also to show an example of the variety of coverage the summit gets around the world.

http://www.elle.com/culture/celebrities/news/a39687/emma-watson-one-young-world-summit-speech/

Since the summit, I have been up to the Google offices in London to reconnect with those I met in Canada and also individuals who have been to past summits. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this network and organisation now, and will do my best to make the most of the on-going opportunities I have. I would like to say a huge thank you to the University of Bath, Jenny Medland, Emily Richards, Bethany Derrick and all the rest of the supporting staff. Also a massive thank you to One Young World, for putting on such an amazing event.

I will keep updating the blog reflecting on different sessions, hopefully by next year's summit you'll know about the majority of them!

Thank you for reading,

Emma

 

 

Hussain Manawer Interview | One Young World 2016

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At the recent One Young World Summit in Ottawa, Canada, I caught up with mental health advocate, poet and soon to be the first British Muslim in space, Hussain Manawer. Watch this insightful interview below, and make sure to check out his performance 'Mother Tongue' also!

 

Wow.

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Today was the final day of the One Young World 2016 Summit in Ottawa, Canada. Sitting in bed in a hotel room at 11:48am, I'm still trying to comprehend the scale of the impact of these 4 days on me, and my direction in the future, so I won't go too deep into the details of what happened exactly (accounts and reflections from the summit will be coming from next week!).

But, fresh from the stunning closing ceremony, during which we reflected upon these 4 packed days, and passed the OYW baton to Bogota, Colombia, where next year's summit will be, I can say this: attending this summit changed my life.

And I know what you might be thinking- and I thought exactly the same when I heard others saying it. 'That's just a cliché'. 'He's getting all emotional'. 'No one's life can change in just four days'.

But honestly, these days have been incredible. I came out with so many of my views of the world challenged, and my perspectives on some major issues shifted. You'll find out why later this week, but for now, Emma and I would like to send our sincere thanks to the University of Bath, the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Emily Richards, Jenny Medland, Bethany Derrick and Professor Ian Butler, just to name a few. Also, outside the university, we are grateful to the One Young World team, especially founders David & Kate, and Michael McLennan. All your help throughout the process, and the actual offering of this opportunity, is greatly appreciated.

Emma and I both noted something interesting here in Ottawa. We didn't manage to find any other university students from the UK or the USA during our days in the summit, despite searching actively.

Our (largely older) fellow delegates were very accomplished. Many were social entrepreneurs, or creators of NGOs, or employees from established companies like Coca Cola and Facebook. But upon hearing we were sponsored by our university, all pretty much had the same response: 'I wish I had that opportunity when I was your age'. We thought this was something that spoke volumes about the role that our University of Bath wants to play in the future, investing in us to go out into society and maximise our positive impact. More than ever perhaps, we felt immensely proud and honoured these past few days to represent the University at such a prestigious summit.

I would personally like to also show my immense gratitude to my family, who supported and encouraged me to take the step to put myself forward for this process.

We are excited to present to you what the Summit was like- but even more, we cannot wait to start trying to make positive impact and bring some of One Young World back to Bath!

If you'd like to see some initial photos from the summit, check out our Twitter: @oywbath

 

Off we go...

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Good evening! (Or morning or afternoon? Being in three different time zones in the last 10 hours has thrown me a little!) Mohammed and I have now landed in Ottawa and wifi permitting this will be posting as we travel to Andaz, our hotel. We are looking to explore the city a little this evening, hopefully find some good local food ahead of getting a solid rest in anticipation of both the Social Business forum and the Opening Ceremony to be healed on Parliament hill tomorrow evening.

The journey over has given me a good amount of time to reflect on what I wish to accomplish most from the summit. Before leaving my house this morning I saw a clip on BBC news which really struck me. In the middle of bomb stricken Aleppo, a large bomb crater had flooded with liquid from a burst pipe. The water was mucky, with many bits of litter floating in it amongst debris from the ongoing conflict. However, what caught me was that there were a a few young boys playing in this pool. They were flipping into it, and swimming and playing in the exact same way children do in the sea everyday in my hometown. The children were full of joy and happiness, but the backdrop to the scene was devastation. It was heartbreaking to see that this joy they shared was so fragile in the place they know as home, as minutes away hospitals are overflowing with the wounded and bodies lie in the streets. It made me more determined than ever to start conversations with anybody I can over the next few days so I can gain a better grasp on the scale of the refugee crisis facing this world.

I hope to leave the summit not only with a better understanding of this crisis, but through this understanding an action plan. I am fascinated by the 613 refugee initiative in Canada as well as Trudeau’s empowering attitude towards finding solutions. I have been before preoccupied with the lack of Education available for these young children and adults, but this clip has shown me that before that can even begin to be addressed much more basic needs need to be met. Safety and security being a priority.

We have tweeted a link to our Snapchat on the Twitter page, throughwhich we will be posting live photo and video updates of Keynote speakers, One Young World events and hopefully our individual internal and external outbreak sessions.

More updates coming soon!

 

Meeting other UK Delegates at the Canadian High Commission

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On Monday, Emma and I went to a reception in Canada House, London, organised by the One Young World team. I was excited to meet the massive variety of delegates coming to Ottawa at this event, and it certainly didn't disappoint!

The first thing to note as I emerged from Charing Cross station is that Canada House, the High Commission of Canada in the UK, is in an awesome location, overlooking Trafalgar Square. Despite the fact that the building is almost draped in Canada flags, I never knew the nature of the building having seen it so many times before.

Interestingly, our opportunity to meet awesome people started before we actually entered the building. Waiting in the queue outside to enter, we met and had a chat with PJ Mandewa Cole, a returning One Young World Ambassador who spoke last year as a delegate about his work with his organisation Lifeline, which provides support to former child soldiers. Just chatting to PJ, seeing the visible excitement in him to go to Ottawa, and learning about the massive impact his work has had, was a great experience that reminded me of the rewards of saying hi to new people- even if it's just in a queue!

 

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Canada House was as you'd perhaps expect- as grand and majestic inside as it is from the outside. We entered a large hall where there around 60 delegates from the UK had gathered. It was a great experience to meet and hear the backgrounds of others who were in the same first-time OYW position as us, as well as those who had attended previously and had a little more experience. I got the opportunity to speak to people working for organisations as varied as the Civil Service, BP, and a range of social enterprise organisations. There was also some very tasty finger food on offer!

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We heard from Kate Robertson, co-founder of One Young World, as well as the newly-appointed Canadian High Commissioner to the UK, Janice Charette. Something emphasised in these talks was that this summit really is a high level, influential event. "OYW is not a youth summit." stated Kate, in a rather firm manner. "It's about leadership.".

This reception lasted only 2 hours, but leaving the doors of Canada House, I felt like I'd benefited from a whole day of meeting new people, learning and being inspired. What really hit home with me, however, was the following line from Kate:

"Of those to whom much is given, much is expected of you."

OYW Ottawa is just a week away, and I'm excited to make the most of this incredible opportunity I've been given.

 

The Five Step Game-Changer: Selecting Breakouts

  

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Last week, I posted about my choice of internal breakout at this year's One Young World Conference in Ottawa. One other choice was to be made, however, and that is what I'll be discussing briefly in this post today!

I'd chosen my internal breakout, now was the time to choose my external breakout- which, as the name suggests, will be held somewhere outside of the Shaw Convention Centre. The choices again were incredibly wide-ranging, encompassing things from a Fashion Crawl of Ottawa (those who know me personally will know I could well do with some advice on this), an insight into Canada's legal system at the Supreme Court, to a 'Canadian Indigenous Experience'.

It was incredibly difficult to select a single session to attend, so to make it easier for myself I first clarified what exactly it was that I wanted from the experience. This wasn't too hard to decide, fortunately- I wanted an opportunity to i) meet and connect with new, interesting people, ii) have fun, and iii) gain key skills that I could make use of back home.

These things considered, I chose to attend a session catchily titled 'The Five Step Game-Changer- Keys to leadership in the global economy and your own community'. It's run by Global Vision- a Canadian charity which mentors and guides young Canadians to develop as leaders, not just on the national but on the global stage. These guys have led Canadian youth delegations to G8, G20 and APEC summits- so I am pretty excited to learn a thing or two from them!

This session is going to cover the essence of what Global Vision preaches to its programme participants- that is, the 'Five Step Game-Changer'. Created by founder of Global Vision, ex-Canadian politician Terry Clifford, these 5 steps are said to offer the key to 'success in work and life'. They are as follows:

  1. The Power of Me- DIY
  2. Feed Your Curiosity- Explore Beyond Your Backdoor
  3. Relationships Trump All- Make Relationships Matter
  4. The Power of We- Collaborate to Lead
  5. Show and Tell… Then Deliver the Goods (A Promise Made is a Promise Kept)

I'm excited to learn more about these steps and put them to use in bringing One Young World to the Bath!

 

Modern-Day Slavery & Supply Chains in the Global Economy: Selecting Breakouts

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As Emma told us in her last fascinating post, the past few weeks for us have included a lot of mulling over the many many external and internal breakout sessions on offer at the One Young World Conference (which is excitingly less than a month away!). The variety and depth of sessions on offer mean that choosing just two was a difficult task- resulting in my choice being made dangerously close to the deadline that had been set.

The internal breakout sessions offered included a session on 'Using Sport for Good' led by the Laureus Foundation, a Corporate Social Responsibility workshop run by Johnson & Johnson and a talk on 'Measuring Social Impact' by PwC, all topics that were incredibly tempting for me. However, I finally chose to attend a series of talks and discussions on 'Modern-Day Slavery & Supply Chains in the Global Economy'.

This topic is so fascinating because, though many of us don't appreciate it, slavery does still exist in multiple forms in today's society, and it affects pretty much each and every one of us. An estimated 46 million men, women and children are exploited daily. And it's not just for things like sex trafficking, which seems a little more detached to most of us here in the UK. But some of the biggest profiteers of modern day slave labour are today's corporations. I don't like to think about it, but I have little doubt that sometime today I will use a tech device, or wear a piece of clothing, to which slave labour has contributed.

But there are so many challenges in trying to resolve this issue.

Would you stop using your smartphone if you knew it was a product of exploited labour?

Maybe, but I imagine most people (myself, I admit with guilt, included) would choose to ignore the fact. Because these things have become such an integral part of our lives, and many of us couldn't imagine living without them. Slave-made goods have proliferated to the extent that it might be considered unreasonable to expect a mass boycott of them.

Would a company stop producing their products in factories that make use of exploited labour?

Again, maybe. But for so many, the bottom line is what matters most. A labour force which is granted employment rights and benefits costs money- and, despite the longer term productivity gains that greater investment in a labour force can bring, companies choose to take the option that will bring them greater short-term profits.

So, slavery has not been eradicated from our world- it has simply taken another form. And, gone unnoticed by most of us, it has grown deep roots in today's economy and supply chains. I'm very excited to hear what speakers such as Benjamin Skinner, (a modern day slavery expert who has actually gone undercover into trafficking networks) and Sneha Shah, MD at Thomson Reuters Africa, have to say on the issue.

See this great interview below with Benjamin Skinner to get a deeper insight into this issue!

Reflections upon traffic in Central London

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Spending a minute or two looking out on the bustling scene of Piccadilly Circus from a nearby rooftop, there are so many observations you can make about the state of much of today's world.

The first thing that catches your eye is the massive array of advertising boards. Then, you've got the plethora of stores underneath them. Both of these highlight just the importance of the roles of advertising, products and consumption in our modern society.

Then, look on a level down from that, and you see the traffic. The buses, the limousines, and the cyclists sandwiched in between- you see people are busy, people are going places. In doing so, many people are actually causing damage- releasing all sorts of pollution, and, over time, in aggregate causing substantial damage to their city and their planet. And they may never see the results of this damage- but their children and grandchildren most likely will.

Take an even closer look, and observe the people who are in these vehicles, and the people being sucked into these stores. You see people from all corners of the world. Whether they are tourists or migrants, you realise the sheer diversity of today's metropolis. The world is perhaps as small as it has ever been.

It's just one scene, but the world today is such that there are a million different observations that can be made about it.

How to do business, how to care for the environment, they are two topics which I am incredibly excited to hear about and discuss at this year's One Young World conference. But what I look forward to perhaps even more is the collection of people I'm about to meet- people from all nationalities, with different backgrounds and different reasons to be there. Because just like the photo above, OYW is a place to learn massive lessons about the state of today's world.

 

My chosen sessions for the Summit

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Hello again everyone,

Since my last post I have been given the opportunity to choose two sessions out of a huge variety on offer at the One Young World summit that interest me most. One is internal and the other external, and are run by people involved within the issues; whether that be through policy, charity or personal experience. I thought I would take this chance to explain to you what my choices are, and why I chose them. I hope by doing this it gives other students an opportunity to contact me with any ideas of thoughts they wish me to take forward to the sessions with me.

The first choice I made was to attend a session called 'Eliminating Domestic Violence through Education'. Within the session we will split into groups and talk about ways to install this teaching into educational settings, and what businesses and government can do to help.  I am a big advocate for using education as a way to tackle all kinds of world problems, whether that be physical or mental health, rights awareness or safety - so felt this sessions perfect for this personal belief. What really drew me in was the description of the session, stating that it was to help all young people, male and female, in their awareness of what domestic violence is and how to recognise it. I see much media awareness around women as victims of domestic violence, and I am not belittling their struggle, but young men also need a strong education on the matter. We are in need of  rising awareness of male mental health as recent figures show that male suicide rates are at their highest in the UK since 2001 (Davis C, The Guardian. 2015). If more young men are given a platform to speak about issues such as domestic violence against them, as well as other issues which are harmful to mental health and self worth, these figures may fall.

I hope to suggest this education as a platform to show how many have overcome such issues, and that there is a way forward for victims. A recent example I have seen of this is of Reshma Quereshi, a 19 year old girl from India who was a victim of an acid attack from her Brother in Law for 'defying' him. Since the attack which took place in 2014, Reshma has worked with charity Make Love not Scars (MLNS) and become the global face of the #EndAcidSale campaign which appealed directly to Indian government to stop the open sale of acid in the country. There are estimated to be over 1,000 victims of acid attacks in India each year, many of these with domestic origins. However, Reshma's latest platform is that she will be walking the New York Fashion Week runway in September which will bring global awareness to the reality of the acid attacks which are taking place everyday. An idea I have for the session is to suggest building a network of survivors who can go into schools and colleges and speak about the realities of domestic violence, and can show a real life example of overcoming and escaping their situations. I have provided a link from the New York Times 'Women in the World' section here so you can read Reshma's story and see a video of the moment she was told she would be walking the catwalk...

http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2016/08/09/see-the-moment-acid-attack-survivor-reshma-quereshi-discovers-she-will-walk-at-ny-fashion-week/

My second sessions is called 'Connect in intimate conversations with refugees, activists, private sponsors, settlement workers and other members of the Refugee 613 coalition', this is so I can gain a better understanding of the refugee crisis from those who are most affected by it. There will be a number of speakers at the events who I will be able to interact with in conversations about all aspects of refugee life, including healthcare, education and settlements. I hope to see how different bodies feel about these issues, as there will be humanitarian workers, government officials as well as academics attending the session. Refugee 613 is a Canadian initiative based in Ottawa which allows residents to help bring refugees over to the country, or to sponsor them and even to help volunteer help. I wish to see how this charity are working with the Canadian Government and how much of a change it has brought about. It provides a fantastic platform for those who wish to help but are unaware of how they can do so to find exactly which role would suit them best.

I hope to speak to those present on how Education occurs in refugee camps, and if formal education is happening hat can be done to help strengthen it for the sake of the young people who will have no future otherwise. If any readers have any particular issues they would like to be brought up at the meeting then please let me know.

I hope this has given you readers a better feel for not only what the summit has to offer but also what issues I am most passionate about. Mohammed will shortly be doing a follow up post on which sessions he is attending, as we have both chosen differently so we can attend sessions on what interests us most.

Thank you for reading, to finsih I thought I would show you this video I found online the other day made by The Global Goals as I think it is a really fantastic piece of work that highlights key issues facing young girls worldwide, so I will leave you with this...#WhatIReallyReallyWant