I get a lot of spam e-mail in my university account. Each day, I delete maybe ten to fifteen different mails encouraging me to buy tickets to a nightclub I don’t want to go to or opportunities to attend a society I have no interest in. I can be merciless in my e-mail deletion. I am thankful that I did not make this mistake when the university marketing department sent out e-mails inviting applications to attend the One Young World summit on behalf of the faculty.
The OYW summit is marketed as the ‘pre-eminent global forum for young leaders aged 18-30.’ It plays host to some pretty reputable international luminaries, such as Kofi Annan, Richard Branson and a smörgåsbord of former heads of state. Their purpose is to catalyse and guide discussion and idea exchange between the 1200+ socially minded ‘young leaders’ in attendance, whilst providing a necessary air of gravity and significance.
To be sent by the university is a great privilege and exciting beyond words. It means that I have the opportunity to meet and build relationships with amazing young people around the world who sincerely believe that we can live in a markedly better society than we do now, and who are acting to that effect.
This is also an opportunity to speak. I am delighted to have the honour of being chosen to give a speech answering the question, ‘How can young people drive the peace and reconciliation process?’ I would be lying if I said that the thought of addressing over 1000 accomplished individuals wasn’t slightly nerve-wracking. Honestly, I’m bricking it (as we would say at home.) But I’m also thrilled, as I will get to represent the amazing work being done by The Corrymeela Community, an organisation for whom I volunteered over the summer. The work being done there needs and deserves all the exposure it can get.
Overall, this has bolstered my conviction that deciding to go to Bath was one of the best decisions I have ever made. In this day and age, with increasing discussions of graduate unemployment and such, there is a pressure for universities to justify their broader role in society, especially when it comes to ‘humanities’ degrees like politics. Universities have such an important role to play. They cannot simply provide qualifications for employment. They must provide their students with the chance to develop their skills and capacity for creating meaningful social change. Having been given this opportunity, I feel Bath is definitely taking the right steps in this direction.