We’d completed our first morning at the One Young World Summit 2016, but now lunch was over and it was time to head back in for the first of the afternoon sessions: Mariel von Schumann from Siemens with a session called Make Real What Matters.
This was followed by another environmental session: Environment – Can technology save the planet? led by Marc Garneau (former astronaut, currently the Canadian Minister of Transport) and featured one of my absolute favourite speakers of the event, a young mother from Micronesia named Yolanda Joab, introduced by Bruce Dickinson (lead singer of Iron Maiden). She was an AMAZING speaker, just so passionate about her country, the environment and changing the future. If you only watch one of the videos I’ve posted, it should be this one, she will inspire you to do more. Other speakers included Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne (Sri Lanka), Rainier Mallol Cotes (Dominican Republic) and Enass Abo-Hamed (Palestinian Territory).
I felt bad for the next speaker, Carlos Brito (CEO of InBev, world’s largest brewer), for having to follow such an amazing speaker, but he held his own. Then it was time for the most exciting session (for me): Gender Equality: Challenging Stereotypes from the Ground Up led by none other than Emma Watson! I’ve gotten more into feminism and gender equality since I started reading the celebrity gossip blog Laineygossip (if you want real insight into how Hollywood works; how celebrity gossip can be so much more than just gossip but can be a reflection of our values and morals as a society, I highly recommend reading it. And for a teaser, check out her TedTalk below) and so I was really looking forward to the session. Even more so because of Emma Watson, who I’ve been a fan of since the first Harry Potter movie (she plays Hermione) and especially since she helped launch HeForShe (a UN Women campaign which encourages men to advocate gender equality, check out her speech below).
Emma Watson was joined by 9 amazing delegates from around the world: Aminka Belvitt (founder of the ForUsGirls leadership initiative for marginalised young women); Eldine Chilembo Glees (encouraging female participation in the male-dominated maritime sector in Angola); Lina Khalifeh (founder of SheFighter, an NGO teaching women self-defense in Jordan. I attended one of the SheFighter classes when I was in Jordan and I loved it); Karen Ramirez (co-director of The Leadership Center, a college for women in Honduras); Mina Tolu (communications officer at Transgender Europe); Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu (works for school children in Cameroon); Abhinav Khanal (co-founder of Bean Voyage, which supports female coffee farmers around the world); Carlos Ernesto Cuinica (focuses on gender equality and promoting sexual and reproductive health in Mozambique); and Vjola Thoma (founder of A Woman in Power, which empowers women and youth). You could tell Emma was nervous, but she gave a great speech and the session was really interesting.
With the session finished, it was time for our last networking break before tackling the final 3 subjects of the day. The short break was welcome after a couple of heavy sessions but then it was time to dive right back in. This time with Mark Kielburger (co-founder of Free the Children; Me to We and We Day) leading a session called Me to We: Engaging the next generation of change makers. I had heard of We Day before but didn’t really know what it was about, however Mark is such a great public speaker and so passionate about making the world a better place that I ended up really learning a lot from this session.
Mark also introduced Spencer West, a public speaker and activist from Toronto who lost both legs below the pelvis when he was 5, but has never let that stop him. He has had a fulfilling personal and professional life, has traveled the world as a motivational speaker and has even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro! Hearing him speak was so inspirational.
The next session was a discussion between Carl-Henric Svanberg (Chairman of Volvo and BP) and Keshini Navaratnam (former BBC World News anchor) about the evolving energy sphere and the leadership required to adapt to these emerging trends.
The last session of the day was entitled: Human Rights – Why are the Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) communities still being persecuted in 2016? and was led by Mark Tewskbury (a Canadian Olympic swimming champion). This is another subject I am very interested in as I have many friends who are LGBT and I wholeheartedly believe they should be free to live whatever life they want without fear and with equal rights.
And that concluded our first full day of the summit! It had been a very long but interesting, inspiring and educational day. But now we were all hungry and it was time to eat. For our first dinner, we were all given gift cards and sent out to the food court of the Rideau Centre (a mall) which is connected to the Shaw Centre. I didn’t love this arrangement as the food court was still open to the public, which was confusing. The gift cards were only accepted at some restaurants that had been designated for OYW attendees and the lines were really long and it was hard to find places to sit and eat. Once I realized I could use the gift card they had given us for the mall back home, I ended up going to one of the restaurants that wasn’t for OYW and buying dinner with my own money to avoid the lines. But not everyone was as lucky as me and people waited a long time to get their food. While I think it could have been done in a better way, I can’t complain too much, because it was still a free dinner.
We finally made it back to the hotel by 8:30pm and since it was still early-ish, I decided to go for a walk downtown to try to get the 7 miles in for my competition. Then it was back to the room to relax a bit before bed. Tomorrow was going to be another long day, but I was looking forward to what I could learn.
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