God knows how long and winding it took to get me to the Clinton Summer School 2013. I thought so many times if I should go or not given the bunch of work and difficulties in the logistics that I have to pass through. But I made it, and I’m glad I did a great decision.
Action upon learning is my motto in attending any kind of event or learning activities. If learning can’t be applied and functional, forget about it. I’d rather give the opportunity to others than be half-mindful of it. This has been my standard after attending so many conferences and learning events. I don’t want to attend an event for the sake of knowing people and finding myself having a tour in another place. I want something to be done during or after and this is what I looked for when Stella O’leary, a person I met at the Clinton Global Initiative, invited me to be part of the Clinton Global Initiative.
“Encouraging Business Development in Divided Societies” was this year’s theme for the Summer School. Just the word business was enough to make me excited to come. For me, a business is no business unless it’s practiced. Otherwise, it’s theory. So there goes the so enthusiastic me volunteering to help out in any way I can – be it logistics, in training or anything. Maybe because I’ve been used to doing some speaking engagements, training people or arranging a whole program as part of my work. But maybe that was not the time so I rather took the opportunity to be more relaxed and be a participant.
Straight from the challenge of getting my visa in London, I arrived in Enniskillen on the 7th of June. I’m one of the first few people to arrive so I managed to get a good sleep in room 216. When I woke up the next morning, the next hours and days were all part of a beautiful history.
This year’s summer school had been attended by young leaders from Philippines, Kosovo, Kenya, Israel, Palestine, Basque country (Spain), South Africa, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada, and USA. To meet people in these countries and ask them personally about the situation in their area is better than reading books or watching the television. You get to know different truths and emotions as the story unfolds right on your face. You become emphatic and try to objective as much as possible so that you can grasp the facts more than being deluded in the feelings.
The “feelings” and the “why’s”, are the two main things that encapsulates the whole learning experience of being at the summer school. The field trips, lectures, and personal testimonials of how it has been in Northern Ireland before and how it is now has been very effective and relaying the message of “why” Northern Ireland is the way it is now. For me, the program has been effective in relaying its history and how it is working to make the present work for the future. I admire that. For me, a personal story of struggle and the courage to forgive by taking a stake on peace is more than powerful than moving forward with a sword. Yes, the wounds of the past will not easily heal. It will still hurt eventually. But the decision of choosing to hold your enemies’ hand and work for a better future is enough to build on that “why” we should work for the benefit our children.
Learning, doing, and networking summarize the things that we did in our Summer School. We learned a lot about conflict resolution through the experience of Northern Ireland. We also learned about different examples on social enterprises and business from Dublin City University and from Women in Business. I took a lot of notes from all the speakers which I enumerated here. The workshops were all very helpful in keeping our minds active on what to do next.
Doing is a word that speaks of the different exercises we made to juice up our minds on what we can do for our society. I find TED talks as something which always gives me to that “Aha!” moment bringing in a lot of crazy ideas. I also love the letter writing because I know that it is something which can possibly influence a decision-maker like David Cameroon. I just hope that there will be a chance to bring young people to G8 for example, and let them talk to the leaders. Good thing we were able to get an interview from BBC and RTE so I hope our message reaches the G8.
Networking extends beyond the class attendees. We were able to meet great people like Baroness May Blood, Nancy Soderberg, Father Devine, Chad Williamson, and many more. Learning from them and even talking to them personally is very inspiring. It just proves that they are where they are because they should really be there. I’m sure that my friends in summer school will be there too. Hearing from them as they ask questions and relay their own stand is just enough to prove that they’ll be that someone too. Only time can tell when.
Life-changing for some while frustrating for some. For me, if there’s one word to describe the experience, it was “intense”. Intense, because the program is 12 hours long. It was also intense because of the passion that you can definitely feel on the people who shared their knowledge, their time, and their energy to make this all possible. I thank all the people who’ve done the simplest to the hardest things for this year’s summer school. You know who you are. Heaven knows how to reward people like you.
I also thank all the new found friends I have for this year’s summer school. You inspired me. Your stories and passion serves as the fuel to keep me sailing in the seas of world problem. The path I took for development is heart-breaking and draining. But just knowing that there are young people like me who are crazy about making a change is enough to convince me that I’m not alone in the “making change” battle. With people like you and me working together, this world can be a better place. Let love happen and let it begin from here.
Thank you again and God bless the Clinton Summer School [and everything related to it]. Peace yo!:D