Posts Tagged ‘Chronicles from the Hague’

I met Belen at the Hope XXL Conference at The Hague in May, and she’s such a gorgeous, inspirational lady! I’m super proud of her, we were chatting a few days ago and she’s just gotten a scholarship to study for a Masters’ Degree in Spain! Super proud of you babe, and I’m definitely coming to visit!

Belu sent me a piece before, but to further confirm I need to shut every Yahoo account I own, I didn’t get it! By the time I reached out to her to ask, she’d written another one! Advance warning for y’all, I loved both pieces so don’t be surprised if she’s featured  twice. Enjoy!

My name is Belen, I am from Argentina and I work on government international cooperation.

This year has been quite intense. I have grown professionally, travelled a lot, and now Argentina is one step of away from winning the football world cup, which for us it is the greatest national glory.

Throughout this year I have tried to be close to people and experiences that inspire and challenge me in new and different ways. In particular, I want to share a trip that really made me think about the future. In May I travelled to The Hague for an international youth conference to debate on the major global current issues, and I was lucky to meet some extraordinary young people from all over the world. I met amazing activist and academics involved in politics, environment protection, poverty reduction, education, among many other issues.

While I was at the conference, I was inspired and I kept thinking that eventually I would find a way to help others and make a social –and even global- contribution. But I also thought that I am still too young to be making major local or global revolutions. I had the idea that I should “focus on building myself now to be able to focus on the world later”. Yet, by the end of the week I had met plenty of young bright people, and even younger than me, making tremendous impacts in every corner of the globe.  I didn’t notice at the time, it even took me a couple of weeks to realize the power laying in each one of them.

So this made me think about the ability to create change. If everyone in the world would support the same idea, wouldn’t it be true? No matter how crazy or out there it might be? Each one of us would then be a key factor of global change because we form part of the consensus built around it. Then it would necessarily have to become true, and change will be the new constant. So my biggest lesson was to consider myself a part – rather than an observer- of the changing forces around me. And my biggest challenge for the future would be to take this new perspective into action.

I am grateful for many things, but if I had to pick only a few, the most important one is the amazing people around me, specially my large and loving family. The second is the high quality education opportunities I was given, including full scholarships to undertake graduate and postgraduate studies in four different countries. And what I value most about scholarships is the responsibility to pay it forward that comes with them.

What I am looking forward for this half part of the year is to meet empowered and bright new people (like  you!) to join me in the transformation of future visions and ideas into concrete actions.

foto belu

While Argentina didn’t win the World Cup, I’m totally on board with change being the new constant! Eddie alluded to it a few days ago and it really says something that we’re hearing it again. What are you doing to improve yourself? Think about it!

Thank you Belu!

Back to the girls and out of Nigeria, we’re off to The Netherlands and a guest post from Paulien Boone, a super amazing lady I met in May! Before I talk about her successfully coordinating 70 delegates from three continents for the Hope XXL Summit (think applications, visas, travel, etc), can I just say she has a new initiative called the Paris Declaration? Check on it!

By the way, The Hague is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to, and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to go back!

My name is Paulien Boone, I am Dutch and I work for a nonprofit in The Netherlands. In the first half of 2014 I learned that I have a voice.

The year 2014 started off pretty great: I won a national essay writing contest on fundraising. The essay had to be about connecting with donors, and to my great surprise I won the contest and was awarded the title of “Young Fundraising Talent 2014”. This award did not bring about a big change in my life as a fundraiser for nonprofits, but it did make me realize something else: I love to write.

Even before the start of 2014 I had already registered my own website, the Paris Declaration, which is designed to help readers get the most out of their time on earth and change the world in the process. This is something I’m really passionate about, because I believe that it is possible to have a wonderful life, apply your talents and change the world at the same time.

This belief is not something I developed overnight. It is directly linked to the experiences I’ve had so far, with (mostly young) people deciding to become changemakers. It’s amazing to see what happens when someone discovers new talents while working on something they believe in. They grow as a person and as a changemaker, and it makes a big impact on their lives and on the people around them.

Unlocking this potential is something I want to contribute to, and something I want to learn more about by writing about it and connecting with others.

One of the highlights of the year so far was a couple of days during which I got to do exactly that: connect with an international group of amazing, talented and inspiring young people. They were all participating in a conference I organized in The Hague (Chioma took part as well!). This group confirmed the famous saying to me: our similarities are far greater than our differences. It inspired me to continue building the Paris Declaration to support them and many others. It also gave me the courage to launch it and commit to writing a new article every week. The inspiration brought about by this experience is something I’m truly grateful for.

I’m super excited about the second half of the year, which will be all about supporting readers with valuable content and offering an online home to all changemakers out there. The first six months of 2014 were dedicated to starting up, and now, at halftime, I can reflect and conclude that I can’t wait to grow further. Bring on the rest of the year, I’m ready!

Paulien

Gorgeous!!!

Thank you so much Paulien!

 

 

This is my final post from The Hague, and will be a mash-up of places we went, things we did, and even though there’s an overload of photos, there’s a video (or two) too!

In case you didn’t catch them, parts one and two are here and here.

This video was made by Royce Lyssah Malabonga just before her presentation on her home country, The Philippines!

The day before we left, we went to the Grote Markt (a market that has a large sit out area that the pubs in the area use) and there was a band playing songs from all over the world. It was so much fun! We danced to music we didn’t understand, lol.

It was so much fun! Singing and dancing to songs we didn’t know, and all the yelling! Guess what? I was chatting to Paulien about the number of bicycles in The Hague and if she ever forgets where she’s parked hers. She said it wasn’t really about forgetting but about them getting stolen, and that bicycle theft is the biggest crime in the country. Bicycle theft? We’d take that here over Boko Haram, the ‘unknown gunmen’, and the kidnappers in a heart beat!

Anyway, a few pictures from our day out at Peace Palace!

Outside peace palace! Thanks to Director Chris for the fabulous photo!

Outside peace palace! Thanks to Director Chris for the fabulous photo!

Lunch at peace palace... Lots of greens, a lovely brown bread sandwich, and apple juice! Yummy but I was hungry soon after!

Lunch at peace palace… Lots of greens, a lovely brown bread sandwich, and apple juice! Yummy but I was hungry soon after!

Ice cream galore! (There are one too many ice cream pictures - I had only one!)

Ice cream galore! (There are one too many ice cream pictures – I had only one!)

Nigeria, Botswana, and Uganda represented!

Nigeria, Botswana, and Uganda represented!

And a few more!

Miss Colombia!!

Miss Colombia!!

Dinner at an Italian place (don't remember the name now... Just know that my pasta and salmon was fab!

Dinner at an Italian place (don’t remember the name now… Just know that my pasta and salmon was fab!

My dear Kaushalya from Sri Lanka!! Thank you for taking all the amazing photos!

My dear Kaushalya from Sri Lanka!! Thank you for taking all the amazing photos!

I know I've used this before but I had to use it again! Nigeria's the best country, warts and all!

I know I’ve used this before but I had to use it again! Nigeria’s the best country, warts and all!

Now, some of the boys had been to Amsterdam the evening before (and I didn’t know, sob), and even though I had moved my ticket forward by 12 hours, it didn’t look like I was going to make it to Amsterdam to see the sights (including the Red Light District)!

I had given up, when Yama came over and asked if I still wanted to go. Yama is from Afghanistan, but has lived in The Netherlands for the past 15 years. He’s a data and securities professional, and loves fashion too! Of course I still wanted to go but time check? 10pm!

Silindile and Charity were up for it, and so we left! Had to get back to hotel studio to get his car (and Lord knows how we passed our tram stop), but by 11pm, we were driving to Amsterdam! With Kaushalaya, who had woken up, heard we were going, and jumped in the car!

We played music all the way, ranging from Ice Prince’s Oleku to DJ Cleo’s Bafana Bafana, whoop!

Like Yama warned, I was disappointed with the Red Light District. Not like the women weren’t in the windows or anything, but (and I’d hate to sound judgmental), I wondered how the women (and men, and transvestites) felt each night after ‘work’. Happy? Sad? Invaded? Was a very sad thought.

We had chips from the best spot in Amsterdam (thanks to Yama), and then after looking around a bit, it was a drive back to The Hague! Got in about 3.20am, and everyone just dropped into bed!

Massive thank you to Yama for driving us there, buying us drinks (and those extra juicy strawberries Charity picked out), and for being the perfect host, and gentleman. Thank you!

Four musketeers... Silindile, Kaushalya, me, and Charity! Photo credit: Yama!

Four musketeers… Silindile, Kaushalya, me, and Charity! Photo credit: Yama!

Really fancy hotel... most beautiful in the whole of the country according to Yama!

Really fancy hotel… most beautiful in the whole of the country according to Yama!

Midnight fries baby! Best spot for chips in Amsterdam, again according to Yama! I think I agree!

Midnight fries baby! Best spot for chips in Amsterdam, again according to Yama! I think I agree!

 

Selfie before we got into the car for the drive back to The Hague. Time check? 2am!

Selfie before we got into the car for the drive back to The Hague. Time check? 2am!

We all woke up late (of course), and it was off to The Concordia for our closing session. Nooo!!! We didn’t want to go! After a couple speeches and thank you’s (including the Director’s weird but very sweet dream about the participants, Ban Ki-Moon and a marriage involving me and two of the guys, lol), we received our certificates of participation, signed our big eight (signifying our happiness rating out of 10), and Hope XXL Triple A Summit was officially over!

This isn't the end Paulien, we will do you proud!

This isn’t the end Paulien!

Big thank you to Paulien Boone, Chris Vaan De Ven, Koos, and all the other organisers for their overwhelming hospitality! To the staff and chef at The Concordia, thank you for the amazing meals, yum, yum, yum!

To all the new friends I made ( I won’t list names so I don’t offend), it was an honor meeting you, and I look forward to hearing marvelous things about you!

I had an amazing time!

Next stop? Russia? Siberia? The Himalayas? I honestly don’t know yet!

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