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