Why Colombia?

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When I first came home and told my parents I’d been selected to represent the University at One Young World in Colombia I was expecting a bit more of an excited response. Instead, I was bombarded with health and safety questions and statistics of British tourists being kidnapped! With the 'older' generation, the stereotypes surrounding Colombia are evident with memories of drug cartels, violence and political instability.

It wasn't until I sat my parents down and half forced them to watch the BBC documentary 'Simon Reeves in Colombia' and educated them on recent peace deals, that their views shifted and they became genuinely excited for my journey. P.s I really do recommend watching the documentary!

Without going into too much 'educational detail' for fear of sounding like a text book, I just want to give a quick overview on some of the history of Colombia and share the journey they have undertaken to become a symbol of peace and hope for years to come.

Many of you may have received your Colombian history lesson from watching the popular Netflix series ‘Narcos’, however as an overview Colombia has been through the following;

In the mid 1960’s A leftwing group called FARC started fighting the Columbian government for rights for the poor. To fund weapons for the war they were involved with drug trafficking which made them the money to finance the war. The civil war ended up lasting for 52 years, within this time an estimated 220,000 people were killed, 5 million civilians forced from their homes, and 8,000 minors disappeared. On the 23rd June 2016 FARC rebels and the government signed a ceasefire deal to end the conflict and peace was agreed.

The OYW opening ceremony is being held at the Simón Bolívar Plaza which is a very iconic place for the historic peace treaty. I believe that the steps the Columbian government took to end the conflict and achieve peace is inspirational and highlights an example of how stability can be maintained in the most unlikely places.

With only one week left before my flight to Columbia to attend OYW I am getting more excited each day to being surrounded by like-minded people and listening to some of the world’s most inspirational speakers.

Colombia’s journey although still early doors represent a beacon of hope for peace and this symbolism shows that social change is possible even in places where it may seem most unlikely. This echo’s OYW beliefs and values which highlight social progress internationally.

And so, the countdown continues…

Thanks for reading!



About time I said hello...

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Hey everyone,

I thought it’s about time I introduced myself more officially and wrote a blog about my experience so far with One Young World. I’ve recently been selected by the University of Bath to be a delegate for this year’s summit in Bogotá Colombia. I’m Sophie a student about to start my second year studying International Development with Economics, I’ve always been interested in social sciences and using numbers and statistics to improve and develop social circumstances so my degree offered a perfect combination of the two. Honestly this time last year I had never heard of OYW or what they do, and now it’s all I think about. I attended Emma's summit last year in Bath and was hooked on the concept, programme and OYW community.

The University of Bath has been generous enough to commit to funding another delegate for this year through the department of social sciences and humanities, and after a vigorous application and interview process, I was lucky enough to be selected. The whole department has been incredibly supportive since and helped gather together ideas for my return (further suggestions are always welcome!), booking flights and ordering business cards! The whole process has happened so quickly and its crazy to think that in 50 days I’ll be off to Colombia.

One Young World have also held some fantastic events throughout the year in the build-up to the conference, some of which I have been fortunate enough to attend. The latest event was a speaker series in London, held in partnership with The House of St Barnard's. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness on the topic of homelessness, something I am particularly passionate about since volunteering with the homeless charity 'Crisis at Christmas' since the age of 16. The speakers were incredibly inspirational and very professional and polished with their presentations.

Tala Dajani kicked off the event and explained to those not so familiar with OYW, about how it works, and why tackling homelessness is a crucial part in helping to achieve positive social development. Then Sal Mohammed the CEO of connected homelessness took the stage, highlighting the role that technology can play in minimising extreme homelessness by increasing access to resources. He presented innovative ideas such as apps for those in need to help locate the nearest food bank or hostel in the region. New technology is also being developed and implemented, allowing electronic donations via bank cards directly to the homeless. This creativity and passion is replicated by OYW, so together we can encourage and promote social change to benefit those in need #leadthechange.

The following speakers took a different approach to their presentations, having both been homeless themselves Sophie Maxwell and Jamala Osman delivered incredibly touching stories of their experiences of homelessness. The whole event was engaging and enjoyable with Jamala showing off her rapping skills to close the evening, yet the overarching message was clear throughout.

The girl’s early childhood stories were heart-breaking but to hear how far they’ve come since then and what they’ve accomplished is unbelievable. Jamala has become the youngest bank manager in the country working for the reputable Barclay’s bank. Whilst Sophie has channelled her efforts into the education of others who are less fortunate through developing the 'really NEET project', working with colleges and Universities after she herself graduated from University!

All three speakers complimented the other and the whole event was tied together superbly. It was a great opportunity to network with previous OYW delegates whilst also learning and being inspired by the speaker series. The whole experience has made me even more excited for Colombia – If that’s even possible!

Thanks for reading my first blog - Any comments are always welcome!




From Bath to Barcelona

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I have just returned from Barcelona, which hosted the second European Caucus of 2017. Over the weekend we had talks on Inclusion in the Workplace, Refugee Rights, Gender Equality, Innovation in Large Organisations, Sustainable Design and Climate Change. I arrived late on the Thursday night to settle in the city before we began on the Friday evening, though many people came on the Friday after they had finished work. We had a social on this  Friday evening in a bar which was great, as it gave myself and others time to catch up with each other. Many had not seen each other since at least Ottawa and for some they reunited with people from previous summits. This was also a great opportunity for those who are coming to Bogotá for their first summit to meet fellow ambassadors before then.


The main event took place on Saturday the 1st, with the morning starting with a film screening of 'Borders and Promises'; a documentary film which follows three female artists from the Arab world as they meet for the first time in Barcelona. The film was incredibly moving, focusing on the self censorship that these women face with their creativity. It was a reality check for myself, it is very easy to forget how privileged our own lives are. The trailer for the film can be seen here, it will begin showing at various film festivals later in the year. The film was shown, then we were lucky enough to partake in a plenary session with the producers of the film, who answered questions posed by the chair of the talk as well as the audience. This was a fantastic chance to gain a deeper understanding of the film itself. We broke for lunch after this.

The afternoon sessions moved at a fast and focused pace, opening with a keynote from Caroline Casey which was engaging, humorous and poignant on Inclusion in the Workplace. Caroline has been partially sighted her entire life, with her visibility deteriorating each year, and chose to hide this from the age of 17 , when she was formally diagnosed, until she was 28 due to the fear of being discriminated against. After working for a large corporate in her twenties, Caroline left and began raising awareness of those with disabilities. She spoke at the Dublin summit in 2014 with a panel of disability activists, an incredible session that can be seen here. Caroline's talk set a very high standard for the rest of the day, joking that she was standing in for One Young World Co-Founder Kate Robertson. Personally, I could not have thought of a better way to start the day.

We next moved on to a plenary session on Refugee rights. The panel began with Gerald Canals as the keynote speaker who is head of missions at Proactiva Open Arms - an NGO which manages life saving missions in the Grecian and Central Mediterranean Seas helping refugees get their feet on solid ground. They have saved thousands of migrants so far. He was joined by One Young World Ambassadors Romy Wakil; a mental health counsellor based in London who works specifically in trauma and with increasing numbers of refuges and Diana Constantinidou, an International Human Rights Lawyer. The session was chaired by our own Charlie Oliver, managing ambassador for Europe. The videos from some of Proactiva's missions illustrated the huge scale of the problem, backed up by personal accounts shared by Romy and the legal positioning from Diana. The session can be watched in full from the Facebook Live stream here.

A short networking break followed this, then the Gender Equality session. The panel for this was a really exciting array of female superstars including Caroline Casey from the aforementioned keynote, head of diversity and talent at Telefonicá Lucia Gutiérrez, Viola Thomas who is an Emma Watson Scholar and Founder of 'A Woman in Power' and Jemima Lovatt from The Global Foundation for the Elimination of Domestic Violence. The session was chaired by my fellow Coordinating Ambassador Carlota Calvo Cotado, who coordinates Spain. The session was powerful, addressing everyday issues head on. The most interesting point for me was the talk of 'Unconscious Bias' in who is invited for interview and eventually chosen for top jobs. It was discussed that nearly all of us have this 'Unconscious Bias' - you can test your own here. Out of all of those on the panel, I have worked closest with Jemima. We are both part of a working group that meets in the Head Offices of One Young World every few weeks on a new approach to tackling Domestic Violence. We are looking to launch this in Bogotá later this year, as a help to us it would be great if you could fill out this survey. 

This was only half of the day! To save an incredibly long winded post I am going to cover the day in two halves. To watch all of the sessions in full visit the One Young World Facebook page. It was really great to be able to catch up with fellow ambassadors who I know either personally from Ottawa or virtually through my time so far as coordinating ambassador for UK2. I always find it inspiring to see the projects that emerge through the partnerships at One Young World and what they are achieving. It is impossible to leave an event such as this feeling that anything is possible.

#LeadTheChange #ImpossibleToIgnore



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.


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,




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!



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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!




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!



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!