One Young World: Diversity at its Best!

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I would like to thank the University of Bath for giving me this privilege to attend the One Young World Summit in Dublin this year. As I was given the opportunity to meet present day global change makers such as Kofi Annan, Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, first female President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Wikipedia founder - Jimmy Wales, NASA astronaut - Ron Garan, and many more.

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From the moment I reached Dublin airport to attend the One Young World Summit, the second largest gathering of nations on Earth with over 1400 delegates from every country in the world, I felt a warm welcome from the 'One Young World' banners displayed in the airport and all across the streets.

It was such a great experience to see like-minded people determined to make a difference in the world. Not just students, but employees of leading corporate firms, NGOs, young politicians, all under one roof being inspired by each other and by the world leaders who acted as our councillors.

As the flag bearer of Sri Lanka, it was fascinating moment to step on to the stage and walk with pride along with the countries. It felt like it was the whole world under one roof collaborating and cooperating in harmony. A question struck me: why can't we all live in peace like this?

I was highly motivated and empowered by engaging and listening to the stories of two girls from Cuba and North Korea and the struggle they faced to escape their own countries in search of democracy. It was interesting how at the same time, I met an employee of Coco Cola stating how they have conquered, and operate in, every country in the world except Cuba and North Korea.
I was also blown away by meeting such successful young entrepreneurs with great achievements who did not pursue further education, proving that anything is possible and that you do not need to go through the traditional route to make a difference in the world and be successful.

Below are some quotes from inspiring people I met:

'I wish the gun was a pen and the bullet was a pencil', Delegate from the DRC at the Peace and Conflict session.

'Diversity is a pre-condition for companies'. This was said by the most successful entrepreneurs’ session.

'Think of you as a job creator, not as a job seeker. Having job is old fashion, create things that solve problems and become job creators'. Professor Yunus.

'Don't accept the way the world is, you change it '. Professor Yunus.

I was involved with the Q&A sessions where I was privileged enough to raise a question to the Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus about the challenges and the critics of microfinance. I was also fortunate to interact with the Founder of Wikipedia and asked him a question on what they are doing to improve the validity and reliability of their content. During the Internal breakout session, I had the opportunity to present to the audience the case study which we discussed as a group on increasing the Mushroom farming. I presented ours ideas on the marketing strategies, distribution and finance. As part of the external breakout session, we were taken to the Google Head office in Dublin, where there was a talk about what technology can do for the problems facing global society.

I was simply blown away by all of the talent, courage, and drive I saw in Dublin! So happy to have met and connected with so many amazing people. OYW has indeed transformed me to be more socially responsible and demand change NOW NOT TOMORROW!

I am now a proud One Young World Ambassador.

Nipuni Perera

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'Bricking it'

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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.

Finding time in his schedule to hang out with us kids.

Finding time in his schedule to hang out with us kids

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.

 

Nipuni and Alex to attend the One Young World summit

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One Young world (OYW) is a global forum which gathers young leaders from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections and develop solutions to some of the world's most pressing issues. Just under 2 weeks to the summit in Dublin, I am well excited to meet young delegates from all across the world with the aim of connecting with driven, passionate delegates and innovative thought leaders from various fields and equips myself with tangible skills and personal experiences in order to collectively produce responsible solutions to shared global problems and create the change we wish to see in the world.

This whole experience of applying to OYW has taught me how to think professionally, how to think critically, and how to think globally.

I have just been given some fantastic news. I have been announced as the flag bearer of Sri Lanka. In this proud moment, I look forward to one of the most fulfilling and dynamic experiences of my entire university career, where I will make a promise to help make a difference in the world the moment I touch my flag to march up as the next generation of global change leaders where I then hope to bring back and share this invaluable experience with my fellow peers at University of Bath.

My profile can be found here:
http://www.oneyoungworld.com/our-network/candidates-and-delegates/community/Candidate/147875

Nipuni Perera