So after the very exciting One Young World Summit 2016 opening ceremonies, it was up and at ’em, bright and early the next morning, which is never fun for me (I am so not a morning person). The conference was starting at 8am, but Alysha-Rae, Duncan and I were missing the morning sessions as we had meetings with staff from International Experience Canada (the department that sponsored us for the summit). Breakfast was being provided by the Marriott (the hotel where we were staying) in the revolving restaurant on the top floor, so up we went, only to be told by the volunteers that we couldn’t eat because we had to leave RIGHT NOW to make it on time for the sessions.
It took a bit of explaining before we made them understand that we were scheduled elsewhere that morning and were, in fact, NOT running late and we were finally allowed to eat.
After breakfast we walked to Shaw Centre where the summit was being held, encountering a fellow delegate, PJ Cole, along the way. He was from Sierra Leone and we chatted with him until we arrived and went our separate ways. It was time for us to meet the staff from IEC that we’d been corresponding with for weeks! We had been scheduled to meet up with them the previous day before the opening ceremonies, but due to Alysha-Rae and I missing our early morning flights, it didn’t happen.
There were two main halls for the summit: one for the sessions and one called the Exhibitors Area with booths promoting different companies/departments and it was also where we would eat our lunch and snacks. We found our way to the IEC booth and met Stefanie, Liz and Pierre. We chit-chatted for a while and then they put us to work. We did an on-camera interview for a promotional video (did not enjoy that, lol. I sound so dumb!!!)
We also posed for some pictures and Alyshae-Rae and Duncan practiced their speeches for the presentation the next day (I had opted to not do one as I hate public speaking!). We finished our work with IEC in time for the first snack break (or as they call them, Networking Break) and then we were finally able to attend the sessions. While I was super happy to get to know the group from IEC and work with them (it was actually pretty fun), I was a bit sad that we’d missed the morning sessions as I’d really wanted to hear Kofi Annan speak. Plus as everyone was coming out of the auditorium for the snack break, they were all raving about the In and out of Extremism session: Maajid Nawaz, Founder & Chairman of Quilliam Foundation, will be joined by three former extremists to explore their journeys in and out of extremism. This Session will mark the first occasion where a former Islamist, far-left and far-right extremist gather to discuss life after abandoning their radical affiliations. The panel will shed light on shaping and countering violent extremism policy. Apparently it was really powerful and moving and is another session I was sad to have missed. Luckily all the sessions were recorded and I’ve included the videos below, it really is worth a watch. I’ve also included a video of Rachel Maddow interviewing Sohail Ahmed, a panelist with a remarkable story (a gay reformed Islamic extremist) who was unfortunately unable to attend OYW.
I was excited about the first session I would finally be able to attend: Climate Justice Dialogue with Mary Robinson (the former president of Ireland), Catherine Mckenna (Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change) and Barkha Mossae (One Young World Climate Justice Prize Winner). Climate change is something I’m very interested in and I couldn’t wait to attend the session and hear what they had to say.
The next session was entitled: The 3 Zeros: zero poverty, zero unemployment & zero net carbon emissions and was led by Muhammad Yunus (social entrepreneur, banker, economist, Nobel peace prize winner and pioneer of microcredit and microfinance). I’m a big believer in microcredit and microfinancing and was looking forward to the session.
Afterwards it was time for our lunch break and we headed back to the Exhibitors Area for the buffet and to mingle. There was also time to visit some of the other booths, which was fun. Some of the booths gave out swag if you did surveys or watched videos, etc… and there was a Ben & Jerry’s booth giving out free ice cream which of course was everyone’s favourite booth, lol.
Having never attended a conference before, I had no idea how full-on they could be. The day was only half over and we’d already done so much!
If you’re interested in seeing more travel pictures, follow my instagram account at: awinnipeggerabroad