Lauren Garey

This blog will serialise my experiences at the One Young World Summit.

On my flight to Johannesburg, I pored over the agenda, documents and feedback given to me about the One Young World Summit. I thought about what I wanted to get out of it, who I was hoping to meet, and what I wanted to teach people about Barclays, my culture (US) and my home (UK). 

Filled with excitement, I set my sights on meeting people from ten new countries per day, learning about social enterprises and entrepreneurial ventures that others had started, identifying ways to collaborate with other delegates, and finding others who are passionate about the same causes as me – financial inclusion, gender equality, and access to education.

Upon arriving in Johannesburg, my thoughts quickly materialised into action as we immediately went to the Johannesburg Soccer City Stadium for the One Young World Opening Ceremony. With the 1,200 One Young World participants and 8,000 school children who were invited, we still filled only one fifth of the stadium. The ceremony married culture and intellect as it introduced us to South African traditional song, dance, and vuvuzelas and featured world-renown speakers including Muhammad Yunus and Kofi Annan.

190 countries were represented at the event with this feat emphasised in the flag bearer ceremony where one person from each country dressed in traditional clothing and carried their flag to the stage.

The flag ceremony remains in my mind as a powerful image of the force that global citizenship will play in uniting our generation and bringing together the best minds globally. Later that evening a traditional South African band and DJ performed for us while we all danced on the pitch. I found myself dancing amongst colleagues from Kurdistan, Nauru, Bulgaria, Poland, and with Barclays’ colleagues from Lithuania, the UK, the US, and South Africa. Despite the cultural differences one would expect, our common purpose guided us while dance provided us with a universal language.