Youth Leading Change: Report from the WUSC International Forum 2012

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Attending WUSC International Forum 2012 – Youth Leading Change
A Canadian Connection at an International Level

Submitted by: Sandra Badcock, Co-Chair, Emerging Leaders

Attending an international forum is always an exciting adventure. You have no idea who you will meet, what you will learn, and what the conference will mean for you and your organization. The World University of Service Canada Forum 2012 delivered on all the requirements for a fantastic conference. As I attended as an invited guest, I found I got to really learn about World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and Uniterra and network with whomever I was lucky to sit next to during lunch.

The conference focused on three key messages: Turn Up the Volume – Youth Voices for Social Change, Show Us the Money! Economic Opportunities for Youth, and Everyday Global Citizenship. Each theme included a plenary session and concurrent workshops for your personal development. I myself found every workshop I attended interesting, and relatable. Learning about education and training programs in South Sudan reminded me of programs in St. John’s, Newfoundland that have been created for low-income individuals. Obviously, each program would be catered to the culture in which they were taught, but the basic principles of encouraging men and women to join the education program, to learn foundational skills needed in the workforce, and then learn specific skills in a trade which would provide them with job opportunities, are common in any employment and education program.

I found myself intrigued with everything presented, and taking notes to share with my colleagues who work in employment and education in St. John’s. Who would have thought that South Sudan implements a program almost exactly like those running across Canada? At that moment in the conference, I realized that anyone working in social or community economic development, with youth, adults or seniors, could relate to international work. Canadians could help network, share their ideas and help an international movement, even while staying here in Canada. While the conference was catered toward university students, I definitely felt that my work, my experience and my knowledge could be shared with attendees. By the end of the conference, I not only felt that I could contribute my knowledge, but that I wanted to become more involved with this international movement.

At the end of the conference, after wonderful concurrent workshops and a fantastic Gala and Awards Ceremony, I had the opportunity to sit down with some members of Uniterra and a representative from Ghana, Mohammed. We discussed the Canadian Community Economic Development Network and Emerging Leaders (a Youth Committee in CCEDNet). Throughout our conversation, I was able to explain the benefits of a network, share information, resources and contacts, and make a friendship. By the end of the conference, after three days of learning and wanting to become more involved with WUSC and Uniterra, I had the opportunity to sit with someone one-on-one to help make that happen! How exciting!

At the end of the day, feeling a Canadian connection at an International level was the best feeling I could have, and knowing that my knowledge and experience could be shared with those in Africa, was truly rewarding.