Hello! Apologies for the delay in updating my blog – it has been hectic with more travels, a wedding and trying to keep up with work and studies. This post will probably resonate with my fellow friends who are struggling to find their paths, their drive, their purpose. Just like I was at the start of the year. I mean, I think it is a lot harder to find this mysterious checkpoint in reality, but when that epiphany hits you, damn does it feel goooood!
Anyhow, I am going to tell you about my travels in the US of A over the summer. Earlier on in the year I was advised by a friend of mine, a very helpful careers advisor at university. I approached the careers service, as I felt lost and unsure of what I was doing with my life beyond university. So we chatted and we came to the conclusion that I was very passionate about social issues, activism and international development. I walked out of the meeting feeling great and positive about graduate opportunities, masters etc. Soon after, I received an email from the careers advisor who forwarded me the details of a new programme, named Merit360, through World Merit. It was where I had the chance to meet another 359 passionate change makers from all over the world, while developing an action plan to tackle global issues. So I applied, continued through the application process and was fortunate enough to be selected to represent sustainable development goal 5 – gender equality. Let’s face it, men and women are not equal all over the world and to varying degrees. I cannot recommend enough seeking support from careers office or similar. So my journey was to begin towards the end of August, where I was flying to New York, to then head to Pennsylvania for a couple of weeks to create an action plan that will work to make the world better for all. The slideshow below contains a few pictures of the SDG 5 team, the 360 leaders and our social enterprise – Keeper.
We were stationed at the Indian Head Camp – a spot untouched, just pure natural beauty. We stayed in cabins, with humble bunks that gave us all a sense of one. As Joel and Laura would say (Indian Head Camp owners) We are “one world, one community, one family”. This message never leaves me and I continue to hold these words close to my heart. These words should resonate through the minds of each of us. I hope in time; this may be the case. Until then, hard work is needed to destroy the walls which the small number negative characters’ build, alongside the corruption of politics. Anyways, these two weeks were packed with ups and downs, but with every moment I never failed to learn more about different cultures, and was even luckier to be surrounded by such strong women from all over the world. Their strength each day amazed me. They had been or were going through times of difficulty and to be able to listen to their stories was amazing. They inspired me to be better, fight harder and never give up. This is not to say, that there were great men among these powerful individuals. Again from different backgrounds, they never seized to amaze me with their tenacity and respect to changing the world to support women and bringing attention to the implicit challenges of the man. Towards the end of our time in PA, we created our project Keeper – a social enterprise bringing attention too and breaking taboo on menstruation, as well as ensuring no girl is left out from education. It was now time to say our good byes at Indian Head Camp and to travel back to NY to prepare for our pitch at the United Nations!
Once back in NY, it was all go as we only had a day before the conference at the UN. The day came round fast and it I can honestly say it one of the best moments of my life! All the different SDG team’s pitches were brilliant and the first copy of Action Plan 001 was then released. What a moment for us all, to be in a room not just with ourselves and the hard work each and every one had put in, but to be surrounded by the incredible World Merit team, among other powerful investors and world leaders. I felt privileged to be surrounded by innovative, inspirational and compassionate individuals, who are not settling for the inequalities, environmental issues etc. are brothers are sisters are facing around the world. Nor, do these incredible people take for granted their own fortune. As these thoughts flowed through my mind sat in the conference room that day, a very intelligent and insightful man said to me one day, “this is a sovereign youth movement” when he referred to merit360. I interpreted this as a force – a force so great because of the wealth of knowledge and experience in one place, one time, a cross cultural movement for the common good. How great this seemed to reflect this wave of change. Yet, how sad that this is not happening enough for it to be recognised so strongly. However, this is progress, much needed progress. As Lord Michael Hastings said “Hero’s haven’t gone, they’ve just gone from being selected individuals on the stage. Now you must become the hero”.
Once the programme had come to a close, I had a couple of days free to be a tourist around NYC. This included a tour of central park, 9th avenue, a stroll past the zoo, Chelsea markets, as well as the 9/11 memorial. It was the 15th year anniversary and to be able to pay my respects was a privilege. A moment I will always hold close to my heart. I was lucky enough to have some good friends show me around. Ethan, Ellie, Cherly and Leila. They each made my last few days in the US, very special, so thank you guys!
I hope you enjoyed my post and maybe you feel inspired to be part of the World Merit community too? Please ask me any questions if you are, I would be more than happy to help! 🙂