Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013

After Class

A Wake Up Call

Members of One Young World Summit 2012 in Pittsburgh. Photo: Courtesy

Members of One Young World Summit 2012 in Pittsburgh. Photo: Courtesy

If someone were to ask me to describe my experience at One Young World with one word, it would be ‘life-changing’. One Young World Summit 2012 in Pittsburgh was like a treasure hunt to find the lost key to unlock the surprises of our amazing world. The Summit helped me realise that each individual throughout the planet is connected in one way or the other, regardless of social distinction, race, economic status, or gender. I began to see countries as individuals through the remarkable group of friends across the planet.

From Iraq, I have a friend named Hasan who is a young doctor, who works to save the lives of people through hard work and determination. I see the true meaning of diversity in Latin America through my mixed-heritage friend Rija from Panama, for whom language is never a barrier. Afghanistan is more than the media-depicted war-torn country as explicated by my dynamic friend Mirwais, who shares his energy at the Voice of America. I see the colours of beauty of Mexico through my friend Maria who understands the true meaning of life better than anyone I have ever met. The fact that national leaders go beyond their political interest to show compassion and empathy towards someone from the other side of the planet, is what Colombia exemplified to me. To me, President Uribe is a fatherly figure who exemplified that respect and admiration requires no physical or cultural boundaries.  This proved to me how One Young World has indeed been a life changing event in my life, because it made me realise the power of friendship and its ability to inspire people.

Still being a college student completing a BSS in Economics at BRAC University and working part time at Tiger Tours Limited, a tourism company that allows me to unlock the beauty of Bangladesh to the world, I have yet to discover the secrets of being a global soul and an active global citizen. While most of us in Bangladesh prefer to believe that a leader is born in the classroom with the highest CGPA; I believe otherwise. I was nurtured by the best kind of American missionaries in a school called William Carey Academy, where it was taught that in the public sphere, it is the engagement factor that brings out leaders in their respective fields. So what is my point of sharing my experience with my fellow youth leaders? My point is, as Bill Clinton addressed in his opening remarks, that you do not need a career to change the world. If you are dedicated, you will find out a way to learn what it takes, even if it means failing 1000 times before succeeding. In my speech, I emphasised the importance of mobilising well rounded individuals to develop their public sphere, and make their nation strong, independent and free from aid. By this definition, even you are a leader in your own right. When you throw a stone into a pond, you create a small ripple throughout the pond. Now, imagine if the entire youth population of Bangladesh were standing by you and throwing stones into that pond – you have mobilised a group of individuals to carry out an organised initiative, be the catalyst of change, and made a difference in the surroundings. That is leadership. It is about responsibility and influence, nothing more and nothing less. Given the right sort of nurturing, every man, woman, child of our nation of our 165 million is a leader in their own right. Youth Leaders of Bangladesh come forth and create change – this is your wake-up call.