On Saturday the 17th of March, we held at the University of Bath the 2nd annual One Young World Bath conference. Despite the snow, rain and wind, the weather didn’t stop us in producing a fantastic day, with approximately 70 students, 3 societies, external speakers, staff, alumni, and members of the local community all in attendance.
We kicked off the day with some inspirational words from Bath academic Dr Jason Hart, who spoke on the unique relationship between mentor/mentee and recited words from the poem “This is Your Age” by Daisaku Ikeda, 2000. Dr Hart then kindly introduced our panel speakers for the day including Duncan Millar, who gave us an insight into his work as the Executive Director of the Charity “Children Change Colombia”. Duncan explained a not so sugar-coated perspective of the struggles and challenges faced in promoting social change, and how a term such as “empowerment” appear positive to the development community. But in reality, the empowerment of one group results in the equal disempowerment of another, and this is practically much harder to achieve and advocate for in real-world development projects.
Our first keynote speaker for the day was Fatima Zaman, she is a member of the Kofi Annan Foundation and co-founder of Extremely Together. Fatima ran a workshop which she devised as part of the Extremely Together Roadshow, whereby she and her team travel the world bringing a workshop which focuses on countering extremism and terrorism. The interactive workshop forced students to think about how they perceive terrorists and come up with solutions to de-radicalization.
The attendees of the day then moved over to the STV (Sports Training Village), where they were joined by additional members of the community and Bath Alumni. The stage was stolen by Fernando Montano as he performed a piece called the “Golden Dove” which he choreographed himself, inspired by the peace deal agreed in Colombia in 2016. It was the first time the Golden Dove had been performed in Europe so it was truly an honour for Bath to be the venue to host such a historic performance. After a brief speech by myself and Emma, Fernando returned to the stage (this time not dressed in lycra) and was joined by our pro-vice chancellor of teaching and learning Peter Bradley. Fernando talked in depth about his life journey and how the charity for which he is now patron ‘children change Colombia’ are working with children and their families to challenge poverty, inequality, discrimination and violence across Colombia. The next part of the day consisted of a networking lunch, where we also had society engagement from Global Scholar, Enactus and Bath Finance society, which flowed nicely into our final keynote session.
David Spears produced a spectacular presentation to round off the afternoon on “why businesses should solve social problems”, He drew upon examples such as M-Pesa to demonstrate how it can be advantages to both businesses and the developing world to create innovative solutions to social and environmental problems. David also cleverly linked the presentation to discuss career options and opportunities for students. For the final 15 minutes of the session, David was joined for a Q&A session by 4 student representatives, including the Presidents of the student societies; Enactus and Bath Finance Society.
Ultimately I’d like to think the day was a success with student engagement and interactions throughout. I would like to thank the people who attended on Saturday despite the horrible weather conditions and I thoroughly hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as I did. I would encourage anyone to apply for One Young World and think creatively about what projects you could bring back to Bath. Applications for the University scholarship through the SPS and Humanities department to attend next year’s OYW summit, closes on Sunday 25th March, so get writing! The link to apply is:
Good luck and thanks for reading!