Sunday, June 7, 2015

Role modeling for change

The third day was another success and we are now over half way through the summit already. Its difficult to comprehend the progress of the summit.
Again there were more sessions, panel discussions, activities, food and deep and personal discussions.
The panel discussion then began with Michael and Christopher from the United States and Indi from Sri Lanka. They shared their experiences using media for social change, and the powerful effects it can have. They all had different, but all positive, experiences of using various forms of media. While acknowledging the negative aspects it can bring, they provided us with creative ideas and inspiration to use social media well and in the most productive of ways. Indi conveyed the way he used social media during the civil war. Michael spoke about its power with people who have a disability. A presentation was untaken by Christopher on how to effectively use social media, in particularly through twitter.
A session was then run on ‘the plan, the brand and the money.’ Fatima, Simba and Abby each spoke about their expert areas. Fatima started the session educating us about strategic plans and the best way to approach them. She shared her insight and expressed the need of being adaptable with the context you in and how it may change.
Simba was next, answering the questions about branding. He highlighted the importance of getting your brand out there and making sure that you provide spaces for people to participate and get actively involved. He believes that “the world is changing and it has actually changed to your advantage… social media has made the world very, very small.”
The last person for this session was Abby. Abby spoke about fundraising and questioned us all on our idea of what fundraising is. She put forward the idea that fundraising is more than seeking money, but it is also about finding partnerships and intellectual resources from fundraising. Abby gave us many tips about the most effective ways to approach donors. She encouraged us to “find creative ways to work with donors.”
Another panel discussion was held after lunch. Two special guests, Justice Shiranee Thilakawardene and Tony Seneviratne speak about corruption and transparency. These are issues which many countries around the world continue to face.  The audience were very grateful for this discussion as one lady stood up and thanked them for all they said, and explained how she’ll implement the knowledge and skills she has learnt from this particular session.
Again, the delegates were separated into their ‘breakout’ groups. They delved deeper into their topics from yesterday, discussing in more detail the issues they are each facing in their countries of conflict and post-conflict societies.
After another long day of sessions, the delegates were asked to sit down and reflect on what they have learnt so far. They answered the question ‘how have your thoughts been changed or reinforced from what you have learnt?’ After two days of intense sessions and dialogues, there was a lot for people to reflect on.
We were very lucky to have Awista Ayub speak to us about her work in Afghanistan with women and soccer. Awista is an Afghan-American. During 9/11 she was faced with the struggle of figuring out her identity, “what it meant to be an Afghan in America.” Awista was very honest with everyone telling us about the things she would have done differently next time, in hope that we avoid making similar assumptions and misunderstandings. She focused on how it can be easy to get caught up in the western mindset and misunderstand how things will play out in a conflict-zone. Despite this, Awista managed to start the first ever female soccer team in Afghanistan. This didn’t come without struggle or self-sacrifice though. Which is something she reminded us all; of how much this road costs to us personally. She encouraged us to go forward with our work, even if it means loved ones disagreeing.
Tajay Bongsa, from the executive committee, led us all in some mediation after this talk. It gave everyone a chance to relax and clear their minds. It was a lovely addition to the day.
Everyone was then taken to an unknown activity, which turned out to be a master chef competition outside! Divided into their fellowship teams the groups were competing against one another to make the best dish. With all the ingredients in the middle everyone had to race to grab what was needed. The dishes were then tasted and judged on their taste and the presentation of the food.
The entertainment tonight was taken to a new level with a lip-singing competition; six males against five females. Tunes from the 90’s, Modern Pop, Bollywood and Latin Pop were the categories of musical choice. After lots of dancing, lip singing and cheers, the girls finally won the competition.

By Jasmine Pilbrow

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