A few weeks ago I headed off to Dublin to represent the Student Hubs network at the One Young World 2014 Summit. One Young World is an annual event that gathers together the brightest young people from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections to create positive change. It’s all about youth leadership and inspiring social action, so one or two things in common with our work at Student Hubs!
One stand out moment for me (and the other delegates I imagine) was hearing from Yeonmi Park who escaped from North Korea with her mother at the age of 15. You can see her speech in full here – make sure you’ve got some tissues to hand. Yeonmi is now a human rights activist and a student at Dongguk University in South Korea.
On quite a different note, I’ll never forget coming out of a climate change session and a fellow delegate turning to me and saying thoughtfully “I’ve never really thought much about climate change before, but I think I might go on one of those protest marches next year!”. Love it.
There were 1300 delegates at One Young World, representing 190 countries. I was particularly inspired by three (four counting Yeonmi!) university students who are working to create long-lasting positive change in their communities:
Alexandra Swanepoel is a law student from the University of Cape Town. Alex brought Lean In to South Africa! She set up a group at her university and hosts discussion groups for women focusing on gender equality, human rights and discrimination in a South African context.
Originally from Northern Ireland, Alex Polkey is in his second year at the University of Bath, studying politics and international relations. Alex spoke at One Young World about his volunteering with The Corrymeela Community, an organisation working towards peace and conflict resolution. In his spare time(!), Alex heads up the Bath University Amnesty International society.
Kieron Joseph Samaroo studies political sciences at the University of the West Indies. He’s the former chairman of the COP Youth Congress, the national youth branch of the Congress of the People, a political party in Trinidad and Tobago. He currently works to promote youth political participation, hoping to open up politics to “an intelligent and informed generation”.
It clearly doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your background is. At the One Young World summit I met university students from every continent (okay, not Antarctica) who are devoting their time to making the world a better place, each in their own individual way. So, get involved. Contact your local Hub and see what sparks your interest. Or if you don’t have a Hub at your university, figure out what makes you angry and then see what’s being done about it. If there’s nothing going on already, maybe you can make a start?