We are almost there. Since September we have had a series of preparations culminating into the One Young World Summit 2015 that is due to begin. Step by step, and with the help of the Faculty, we’ve confirmed our journey from Bath to Bangkok, met up with other UK delegates in London, browsed through the various OYW profiles, got in touch with other delegates via social media, selected personal internal and external breakout sessions, and got so intrigued by the promised talks on the timetable. More recently, I have also learned to say “sawat-dee-kha” (hello) and “khop-khun-kha”(thank you) from a friend, as a reminder of the fact that it is soon time for Thailand. Below is my short reflection in the midst of last minute packing and bubbling excitement (and probably a sleepless night) ahead of an early departure in a few hours time.
Some of my hopes for the Summit:
- To be able to listen with genuine interest and attentiveness at all times. I guess it is easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by the number of stories and ideas you hear when there are an average of 15 sessions every day (plus 7 hours of time difference). I hope I can maintain a good focus and learn as much from the talks on the first day as those on the last day.
- To gain new insights, even change my views on certain issues. Sometimes opinions are there to be challenged, university in particular seems to be a place where nothing should be taken for granted until backed with evidence. One thing I might change my view on is whether corporations can effectively achieve social goals. At the moment I am rather sceptical about this, but perhaps chatting with corporate delegates and hearing their project ideas can help me understand their point of view better.
- To have deep and truly meaningful conversations, beyond an average professional small talk. Here in the UK in particular, it seems rare to chat about dreams or fears, politics or philosophy the first time you meet someone. However, given the special atmosphere at the Summit and the passion and thoughtfulness shared by most of the attendees, perhaps fruitful conversations could arise naturally.
- To find courage and be encouraged. In the aftermath of the shocking tragedies in Paris, Beirut and elsewhere last weekend, I saw a world joining together in grief and prayer. Recent events will add a further degree of seriousness to the issues we discuss at the conference, particularly in relation to peace and conflict. Sometimes we need encouragement and comfort not only post-crisis, but in everyday life when you feel so small and powerless to make a difference. This is when meeting those who have managed to make a positive change can be truly energising.
- To familiarise with cultures I knew nothing about. One Young World brings together delegates from 196 countries to conference centre, which makes it an once-in-a-lifetime experience in terms of meeting representatives of various nationalities. I would like to make use of this precious opportunity to get out of the familiar Northern European and Chinese zone and meet people from as many backgrounds as possible.
- To help deliver a memorable Opening Ceremony as the Finnish flag bearer. I honestly feel extremely lucky and privileged to be able to represent Finland this way; she is my beautiful second home and has truly shaped who I am today. On the other hand, I hope my multicultural background could help show people that you don’t need to answer the question “where are you from” with only one word.
Lots is coming, and I will try and do my best to make the most out of this unique experience.
In the coming days, you can follow Naomi and I on Twitter and the main conference on Livestream. Later on, some video clips will be available on Youtube, too. While waiting for this years’ clips, why not have a look at some highlights from previous Summits?
Thanks, and laaeo-phohp-gan-mai-kha (see you soon)!