One Young World Youth Summit

One Young World Youth Summit

Maria Navarro '14, Staff Writer

London. Zurich. Pittsburgh. Each of these cities, though vastly differing in distance and background, have all shared the honor of hosting the One Young World Youth Summit, an annual gathering of young individuals between the ages of 18-30 who come together to discuss and propose solutions to pressing dilemmas facing the world today. For one October weekend of 2012, downtown Pittsburgh housed 1,200 young people from over 180 different countries, all who arrived to actively examine issues ranging from education to political corruption. I had the unique opportunity to observe and interact with the individuals at the summit as a Pittsburgh Youth Reporter.

Sponsored by the World Affairs Council, a group of 32 high school students received training as journalists to report and publish the talks and ideas that sprouted from the conference. Various media professionals instructed us on how to effectively conduct interviews, report events and viewpoints, utilize technology to publish stories, and follow a reporter’s code of ethics. Video, voice recordings, pictures, and essays were all used to publish the immense multitude activity surrounding the bustling summit.

Throughout the event, we had the chance to hear from several well-known counselors, including individuals such Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunas, former US President Bill Clinton, and renowned Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto. However, some of the most fascinating people I encountered at the summit were the delegates, some who addressed the assembly and some who attended and debated within groups. Each individual carried an intense passion for a specific cause, or several causes, and had hopes of making a positive impact in their own country after discussing their interests with delegates from other areas facing similar problems.

Speaking with and interviewing all these individuals proved to be an eye opening experience. Often, I had limited or no knowledge of some of the issues they spoke of, simply because they were not as prevalent where I lived. I became exposed to a myriad of concerns that I had not been completely aware of, and, most importantly, I was informed of possible and creative solutions that these enthusiastic young individuals were developing. Several had already founded groups to battle everything from illiteracy, both conventional and computer, to obesity and hunger, to women’s rights. One young woman had formed a company dedicated to cleaning up harmful landmines, and reusing the materials to make jewelry. Another young man was starting a company focused on creating cartoon strips to easily and accessibly promote hygiene awareness within his country in order to battle common diseases.

For some delegates, just attending the conference was an admirable achievement in itself. I met a young woman from Afghanistan, who ran an orphanage in her country. She was the only female representative from Afghanistan, and she spoke about how she had needed a great of security and secrecy just to leave her country because it was considered a great shame for a female to go abroad. She could only tell her family that she had left, to protect both herself and them. Staying at the hotel had been a novel experience for her, because she never slept so close to windows for fear of a bomb breaking. She was absolutely dedicated to improving the conditions of her country, and proved to be one of the most inspiring people I encountered at the summit and in my life.

Each interaction at the summit granted me a greater insight into international concerns and affairs. Being around so many passionate and capable young people also gave me perspective on how to improve the problems facing the world, and the vitality of working as an international community to solve these issues.