Updated: Aug 8, 2019
The following post was written by Selina, 2019 Global Youth Leadership Summit Participant from China. Check out her experience at the Summit, and how she plans to#innovateforinclusion in her community!
I’ve never met so many young people who were so different but also so alike. When an Indonesian girl told me about her Unified hiking trip, I saw sparks in her eyes. When the Hong Kong youth leaders confidently introduced their plan at the project poster exhibition, I heard determination and ambition in their words. When an individual with intellectual disabilities described his trip to Greece, I could hear his desire for friendship.
The most important thing I gained from the Global Youth Leadership Summit was determination. There were moments in the past when doubted my efforts. Now, because of these inspiring people, I don’t doubt myself.
Yesterday I saw a post on Instagram from a youth leader from the United States I met at the Summit. The post was about her child, who has Autism. The caption read, “I will not change you for the world; I will change the world for you.” I felt so moved reading that. It is more proof that there are so many people who hold the same dream of bettering the world, despite the differences between us. This is the power of Special Olympics, and I believe Special Olympics is right where I’m supposed to be.
The Global Youth Leadership Summit only lasted five days, but it felt as if I’d known the other leaders for a long time. We had late nights bursting into laughter after singing together. We would chat and play everywhere, from a small dorm room to the daily shuttle bus. We never ran out of topics to talk about, be it Special Olympics, our dreams, futures, or everyday lives. I am so fortunate to have encountered these angelic people. I will surely treasure these friendships.
In the Youth Summit closing ceremony, Soeren Palumbo said, “Don’t say goodbye; say see you again.” I agree with this. I do believe that as long as we all continue our devotion to and engagement in Special Olympics, there will be a day when we can meet again. Perhaps that day is two years later in Sweden, perhaps four years later in Germany, or perhaps twelve years later in an unknown place.
The 2019 Global Youth Leadership Summit was supported through partnerships with The Lane Family, Kantar, the Lions Clubs International Foundation, The Samuel Family Foundation, and the Office of Special Education Programs at the United States Department of Education. Learn more about the other participants of the Global Youth Leadership Summit at sogyls2019ad.org/participants.