One Young World celebrated its 10th Anniversary Summit in the heart of London in October, bringing together more than 2000 young leaders and over 300 volunteers to be part of its transformative event.
As the chosen events agency partner, MCI UK and MCI The Netherlands provided full event management services, including the instrumental role of volunteer management.
Every year the Summit recruits volunteers from the host country to assist with the operations of running the event. For the 2019 Summit, 80% of volunteers came from London whilst the remainder travelled from other regions in the UK and internationally.
Volunteers supported the Summit at every given touchpoint of the delegate’s journey from their rousing volunteer welcome upon arrival in the UK to hotel check-in. Donning hoodies in One Young World’s trademark blue, volunteers played a crucial part in the Summit and became recognisable points of contact for delegates, providing key events information, local city knowledge and most importantly a friendly face.
For some delegates attending One Young World’s Summit was their first experience of travelling abroad or visiting London. Each volunteer’s job was to ensure that every delegate felt welcome and comfortable in the city, empowering delegates to make real change in the world.
Volunteers supported the Summit in many roles including VIP hosts, accessibility champions, stage assistants, directional support at venues, registration helpers, opening ceremony flag team assistants, press support, news writers and photographers.
James Hampton, One Young World Volunteer Management Lead said, “What a remarkable experience! It’s been incredibly rewarding for MCI to manage the entire volunteer piece at One Young World, from application selection through to meeting each volunteer in person and working alongside them onsite. We took heart hearing each applicant’s motivations for volunteering and their personal stories. The 10th One Young World Summit would not have been possible without the 300+ volunteers who dedicated their time, energy and enthusiasm to this remarkable event. Thank you!”
During the week, MCI took charge of running several stages including BP’s Advancing Energy and Jaguar-Landrover’s I-Pace Stages. MCI’s event professionals were joined by a group of keen student volunteers from UWC Atlantic College in Wales. The students were encouraged to volunteer at One Young World because Atlantic College shares many of the same values: it was designed to promote international understanding through education, to break down national barriers in education, and to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.
We caught up with four event stage assistant volunteers to reflect on their experiences post Summit, and hear about how volunteering has impacted their lives, personally and professionally.
What encouraged you to volunteer at One Young World?
Hideki Diego Harada Oyakawa from Peru: I wanted to see how a summit is like for young people, and I also wanted to get involved with people of my age. OYW was the perfect opportunity for me to see how young people are changing the world.
Ali Zein Alabdin Ahmad from Iran: The mission of the OYW movement worldwide goes along with my message in life. The message of international understanding, passion following and self-empowerment. As a UWC student, the mission and values of UWC and the aim of making education a force to unite people nations and culture for peace and sustainable future goes along perfectly with the aims and goals of OYW.
Zachary Kim from Korea: Firstly, the ideas and values of our school deeply align with our school's mission, which made me interested in the summit. I wanted to learn more about global leadership, peace, human rights and sustainability in an environment other than our school: in a much more mature and sophisticated environment. Moreover, I saw the video of Yeonmi Park's speech from 5 years ago and it got me interested in the summit and I wanted to experience it for myself.
Tell us about your experience volunteering at the tenth One Young World Summit in London? What were the highlights?
Zainab Irfan from Kashmir, India: Volunteering at the tenth One Young World summit is one of the best experiences I've had in 2019. I'm so grateful for having been given the chance to attend the summit as a volunteer. As a volunteer, I had access to the same content as the delegates. I got to know the delegates as well, but on top of that, I also learned how much effort needs to be put in organizing an event as big as the One Young World. It was so much effort, but so much fun at the same time. It was almost like having a job; taking the tube early in the morning, reporting to your boss, learning and helping others throughout the day.
Hideki Diego Harada Oyakawa: It was amazing to see how much young people are doing for the world. Helping delegates from that many countries was a new experience for me. My highlight of the conference was seeing how youth, companies and mentors were so involved in solving the problems of our generations like climate change and lack of inclusivity.
Zachary Kim: The experience was overall, amazing. I was lucky to have been assigned the role as Side Stage Assistant because we were able to listen to the speeches and talks while being in close proximity to the speakers and interact with them. My highlight was receiving a hug from Yeonmi Park. We had a brief conversation in Korean as I speak Korean, and after I told her how much of an inspiration she is to us, she hugged me, which as an honour I never even dreamt about. It was a moment that paid off the entire week of hard work.
Ali Zein Alabdin Ahmad: My experience with OYW was quite rich and remarkable. I got to know many amazing people and human right activists. I have met amazing speakers such as Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Jane Goodall and the first lady of Columbia. Another bright side of the summit was the huge amount of cultural interaction that was obvious in the overall atmosphere especially at the flag ceremony at the opening ceremony.
What impact does volunteering at One Young World have on your life personally and/or professionally?
Zachary Kim: "Volunteering at OYW firstly, made me want to participate as a delegate in the future. Although I must try hard to qualify for a scholarship, I will still try my best and even if I don't manage to receive a scholarship, I will volunteer again to be a part of the summit. Watching and listening to such inspirational speeches and role models helped me realize my inner passion as a philanthropist and an adventurer and I hope this motivation would drive me towards greater deeds in the future."
Hideki Diego Harada Oyakawa: "OYW broke the concept that being young is an impediment to change the world. Experience comes with action, not with age and that is what OYW teaches to everyone."
Zainab Irfan: "As a volunteer at the One Young World summit, one gets inspired to make a difference in the world, but at the same time, one also realizes how much effort needs to be put into creating something world-changing.
As a delegate, one listens to all the stories and realizes that a lot of people in power are eager to help young leaders make a difference in the world. As a volunteer, one gets to do all of that, and in addition to it, a volunteer sees what the delegates don't get to see.
Organizing the summit, which is a world-changing event in itself takes so much time, effort and energy. The volunteers, in certain ways, stand at the line the separates the staff and the delegates. They get to experience everything the summit has to offer - the rich diversity and knowledge, as well as the gargantuan amount of energy and work, put into making the summit a worthwhile experience and the world-changing event that it is."
Ali Zein Alabdin Ahmad: "It made me see myself in a different way, it gave me a clear vision of what do I want to do in the future and made me certain of where exactly I can find myself in the career life. It made me see different aspects of medicine and business and helped me understand how important is it to think out of the box even, since I am planning to become a doctor."
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