By Charles Zhang, CA ANZ, 3rd Oct 2016. It is difficult to find the words that can wholly encapsulate my experience of One Young World 2016 in Ottawa. Looking back, it seemed almost corny to use words like ‘life-changing’ and ‘profound’, but believe me when I say that this experience was inspirational and compelling in no small measure and exceeded every expectation I had.
For four heady days a year, One Young World brings together 1,300 young people from every country in the world to drive home a very important message: young people are the leaders of today and tomorrow.
The days are filled with the opportunity to hear from absolutely stirring speakers the likes of actress and gender equality activist, Emma Watson, founder of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Grameen Bank, Muhammad Yusuf and Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. The quality and sheer ambition of these speakers impart an infectious passion, mind-expanding perspective and genuine excitement in a future lead by today’s young people.
As compelling and inspiring as the speakers were, the real magic came from my fellow delegates. I had the fortune of meeting truly amazing people from all over the world – with special mention for #teamCAW who were equal parts fun and inspiring. On one hand, I met young delegates who had founded multiple businesses and delegates who were changing the lives of the disadvantaged of their home countries every day. On the other, I met delegates in danger of losing their homes to rising sea levels and delegates who have lived their whole lives in war-torn countries. In what was perhaps one of the most profound moments of my experience, I met a Congolese entrepreneur who had founded a youth political movement in France and asked him: “were you afraid when you started this movement?” To which he answered: “I have survived two wars in my life, what is there to fear?” One Young World challenges its delegates to think and calls them to action.
For me, this call-to-action was realised in the form of a social enterprise I have been developing since 2015. The enterprise is called Journey Crowdfunding and is essentially a crowdfunding platform for the homeless and disadvantaged. One Young World gave me the opportunity to pitch this enterprise to a social seed fund called The Resolution Project at an internal competition called the Social Venture Challenge. I was fortunate enough to win and to be bringing home seed funding and the support of a global network of Resolution Project fellows. Unreal stuff.
All of these experiences came together with cultural exhibitions, musical performances and an amazingly-curated closing ceremony to encapsulate a summit capable of producing intoxicatingly exhilarating moments. Above all, the summit simultaneously gave me the inspiration and the means to return to Sydney and make a real difference. With the skills I have developed as a CA representative and the support of the CA network the possibilities are truly limitless. I count myself unbelievably blessed to have shared in this profound experience and thank Chartered Accountants Worldwide and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand for making this all possible. If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend the One Young World summit and join #teamCAW, I recommend it in no small way. It could change your life like it did mine.
Finally, in the way of advice for #teamCAW next year: enter with an open mind, converse broadly, listen consciously and enjoy the absolutely thrilling ride. If you let it, the experience has the potential to be thought-provoking and eye-opening like no other.
Charles Zhang, CA ANZ
For more information about Charles click here.
3 October 2016