Inspired by young activists and world leaders at One World Summit

By Danielle Bartholomew, an A World at School Global Youth Ambassador from Grenada

One Young World is a UK-based not-for-profit organisation that was founded in 2009 by David Jones, Kate Robertson and founding corporate partner Havas.

It hosts a summit every year which brings together the brightest young leaders, aged 18 to 30 from over 190 countries, who are joined by world leaders, acting as the One Young World Counsellors.

At the summit, delegates discuss pressing global issues and devise and share innovative solutions to these issues. At the closing ceremony, delegates graduate as One Young World Ambassadors, joining a network of bright young leaders who are making positive impacts in their communities and countries.

Just over a year ago, attending a One Young World Summit was a dream of mine. Surprisingly, in June of this year, I found out that my dream was coming through.

I was selected to attend the One Young World Summit 2014 through the All Bar None scholarship scheme which was formulated to ensure that 18 to 30-year-olds from countries that were relatively less well represented in the previous summit get an opportunity to participate in the next summit. The strongest applicants from each eligible country is usually shortlisted and at least one person from each eligible country is sponsored.

The summit this year took place from October 15 to 19 in the beautiful city of Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, which welcomed the delegates with a “One Thousand Welcomes” tour. Each delegate was introduced to a young, enthusiastic Dubliner and was taken on a local tour.

We saw several sites including the Liffey Bridge, the Samuel Beckett Bridge, the Custom House and the Spire of Dublin. The tour ended at the world-renowned Trinity College where we visited The Old Library and the Book of Kells Exhibition. The Book of Kells is one of the most stunningly illuminated manuscripts in the world and is a precious medieval artifact of Ireland. We then visited the Guinness Storehouse, where we learned facts about the industrial tradition of the alcoholic beverage Guinness. Following that we were entertained by a live band while having dinner.

Danielle was touched by the story of North Korea’s Yeonmi Park

The opening ceremony, which was held at the Convention Centre Dublin, featured a procession of delegates carrying flags of 196 countries and keynote speakers which included Sir Bob Geldof and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland. 

The summit sessions were categorised into Plenary Sessions, Special Sessions and Breakout Sessions. There were six Plenary Sessions that focused on Peace and Conflict, Human Rights, Leadership and Government, Sustainable Development, Global Business and Education.

There were over 25 Special Sessions which included Q&As with the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales; Social Business with Muhammad Yunus; Q&A with four former Presidents of Latin American countries; The Most Successful Entrepreneurs Under 30 which was chaired by the CEO of Barclays, Antony Jenkins; and Sports and Society which was chaired by Boris Becker, the German former World No. 1 tennis player. There were also sessions with Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General.

The Breakout Sessions were divided into External Breakout Sessions which were held at different locations in Dublin and Internal Breakout Sessions which were held at the Convention Centre. In the Breakout Sessions, delegates were broken into smaller groups based on sessions that they chose.

Out of all the delegate speakers who were chosen to speak in the sessions, I was mostly touched by Yeonmi Park’s speech which featured her risky escape with her mom from North Korea. As I pictured myself in her shoes, I felt really terrified. Each day young people are struggling to survive with no source of help. But as A World At School Global Youth Ambassador and a One Young World Ambassador I will continue to be a voice for those who cannot be heard.

The One Young World Summit was certainly one of my greatest experiences. I was inspired and received a large amount of knowledge to move forward and help make this world a better place.