From the 13-19 July 2019, International Medical University (IMU) second year psychology student KIRANJEET KAUR attended fully-funded program Global Youth Summit in Aarau, Switzerland.
This summit is an annual program hosted by international organization called Global Changemakers. Sixty participants from 128 countries such as Africa, New Zealand, Tunisia and Brazil spend a week together to work on solutions for change in regards to the 16 Sustainable Development Goals’s (SDGs) by the United Nations.
Selected out of 1,076 applicants, Kiran represented Malaysia through her advocacy on mental health and human rights. Kiran is now known as a “Global Changemaker” and would be joining a network of over 1,000 young individuals from across the world.
By Kiranjeet Kaur | EXPERIENCE | MALAYSIA / SWITZERLAND |
Spending a week among young inspiring individuals of such diverse backgrounds and equally diverse experiences in regards to their activism has been an enriching experience.
From the first day up to the very last, the genuine connection that I formed with these individuals and the kind of bond that we shared is not something that I may relate to on a daily basis here. All of these individuals have one goal in mind, and that is to change the world and move towards creating sustainable solutions, so even the kind of conversations that we had generally moved us towards that one goal.
The contents of the summit revolved around a more relaxed and informal nature, with an emphasis on being yourself without having any formal pressure being put on an individual. We were broken into theme groups based on our choice of SDG’s and we were taught on how to apply the design thinking methodology in order to come up with solutions. By the end of the week, all the theme groups presented their ideas in order to gain feedback from one another. Besides the theme groups, we also had prestigious speakers at the summit, such as Daniel Macmillen Voskoboynik, who shed light on a number of things in regards to social change.
The most valuable session, for me personally, was the skills marketplace session. We had the opportunity to pick five skills that we wanted to enhance the most and attended hourly sessions on each of them. This enhanced my knowledge tenfold, especially on skills that I overlooked on prior to the summit such as networking, and project management. It is amazing how they were able to condense so much of valuable information and tools and present it to us within an hour, which has now turned into something that I fully prioritize when engaging in social change in order to scale my impact.
The highlight of this summit was the elevator pitch session, as well as presenting the pitch to a feedback panel consisting of huge names in the industry, such as the manager of the fashion brand Fossil Foundation, Mr Cedric Herzog. An elevator pitch is a concept where an individual would have to “pitch” an idea to another person within only a minute, in hopes of gaining that person’s interest. This would prove to be the most valuable skill especially when it comes to attaining stakeholders and partnerships. We were taught on the essence of an elevator pitch as well as how to perfect it, and nine individuals had an opportunity to present our pitches to a feedback panel as well as the entire crowd, and I was lucky enough to be one of them. I had never been brave enough to do something like this prior to the summit, so it is safe to say that this summit had indefinitely improved my self-confidence a lot more as well.
Besides the workshops and the sessions to enhance learning, the summit was also filled with plenty of fun activities. We had a full day of touring Zurich city which involved a cruise on Lake Zurich, an open mic night to showcase our talents which turned into a whole night of dancing to every cultural song possible, morning energizers which involved more dancing, meditation sessions, evening hikes to catch the sunset, a bonfire night, as well as endless hours of talking and bonding with one another.
Another highlight of this summit was a Global Changemakers reception that was held at ETH Zurich University, which had a view that overlooked Zurich City. This reception hosted numerous sponsors as well as ambassadors of Global Changemakers in order for them the meet the new set of changemakers and learn about their activism and where they come from. This reception was also joined by the First Secretary of the Malaysian Embassy of Switzerland, Ms Delfina Jane Dris. I found that to be a wonderful support towards a Malaysian participant and it was really lovely meeting her.
Overall, the summit ended up changing my life and is the best week of my life. I cannot thank the Global Changemakers team enough for this opportunity. I learned just how powerful the youth are. No matter how small or how big a change that you create is, a change is still a change and every change matters.
We also learned on the power of believing in our true abilities to create that change in the first place. I am also grateful that my network has now grown.
The key takeaway from this summit is definitely my new worldwide family whom I have grown to love. I have formed such a special connection with each and every one of them which was why the farewell on the last day was unbelievably difficult, but I know that this summit is the beginning of an incredible new journey for all of us.
I would also like to thank my parents, Harvinder Singh and Karamjit Kaur for showering me with their endless love and support since the beginning of my journey. They have always encouraged me to chase after my dreams no matter what the outcome may be, and I am glad to have that support which led me to now be a Global Changemaker.
I highly encourage every youth of Malaysia to apply for this summit within the upcoming years.
For more information on the application process as well as when to apply, click here.
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