Featured image photographed by Anna Choi and Reuben He
It was the 31st of March, 2017 and I was standing, waiting in the carpark. There were ten students in total; Petra Saecker-Battley, Melanie White, Anna Choi, Glenna Chin, Tilak Patel, Mereille Kathrin, Meg Nowak, Sanskruti Patel, Danielle Huggins and Reuben He. We were all waiting anxiously for the van to arrive.
Today was the World Vision Leadership Conference – a conference hosted by World Vision that was designed to inspire and motivate New Zealand’s finest young leaders into igniting change for a brighter future. This conference was centred around humanity and awareness of the global issues that currently surround us, such as the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the South Sudan famine.
Auckland Grammar and Westlake Girls were also in attendance which proves how high the calibre of the conference was. Furthermore, even high schools from outside of Auckland such as Tauranga and New Plymouth had travelled long distances to be present at this prestigious event.
Upon arrival at the Vodafone Events Centre where this event was to be held, we were greeted by the excited chatter from the 700 students who were at this event.
After we took our seats in the large auditorium, the MC kicked off proceedings by running through a game to test our leadership potential.
This game was a simulation of the climb to the top of Mount Everest and participants were required to make decisions at each step. These decisions included choosing between the North side and the South side of the mountain to climb, whether you should help others who were having trouble with their equipment or leaving an injured friend behind.
After this activity, the MC introduced the idea that attention determines what you perceive and thus, the decisions and actions that you take. Therefore, the things that you focus your attention on will be the things that you seek to change.
The ‘climbing Mount Everest’ simulation taught us 3 key points; it takes courage, will and adaptability to become a leader, Good leaders make good choices and that we must know how to keep safe but simultaneously, know how to invest.
This was proceeded by the first keynote speaker, Merenia Hudson who told us her life story and emphasised that the most important part of being a leader is to avoid being disconnected with others.
“To the contrary, we must build connections with others and achieve goals by supporting one another on the path to reconciliation. Community is the game changer and the revolution. We must use the power of people and the choices we make should have a purpose; we must bring pure and freedom to everyone.”
Our second guest speaker, Noa Woolloff, explained that as a leader, we must be prepared to break stereotypes and social barriers; “it’s okay to be different.” Furthermore, we must lead by example and remain humble. “Don’t let people around you make you a big deal, you’re here to make them a big deal. Don’t be afraid to be different – become the shining light”.
Finally, to finish the guest speakers’ section of the day, Emily Muli highlighted that society views leaders as instructors but they are actually people who are there to support.
Leaders always see hope and believe that anything is possible as long as hope is present. We should be blessed that we have freedom in our society: we can think and express for ourselves, we can choose who and what we love. Now it’s about bringing this freedom to others.
Use your weapon of choice and find fire for freedom but don’t tap out, use freedom to bring freedom. She then left us with this powerful quote, “just because you are young, does not mean you are inferior.”
After lunch, we moved into the 40hr Famine stage of the conference where we planned and discussed ways to raise funds for the Syrian humanitarian crisis. World Vision Youth Ambassadors said that we must treat the refugees as “humans whose lives matter because this is a human issue, not a political issue and that no person deserves to be given up on”.
Through experiencing a day of inspirational speakers and hands on workshops, I left the auditorium as a different person to the start of the day as the conference had completely changed my viewpoints towards being a leader and making a difference. I am now more motivated than ever to make a difference not only in my community but in the world. This will start with the 40 Hr Famine 2017 from 9 June to 11 June.
Ultimately, this was a fun filled day with memories and advice that I will cherish forever. We learnt that the greatest way to exercise our freedom is to bring freedom to others. This can be done through raising awareness and using your connections to create a ripple effect.
As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Written by Anna Choi, Reuben He
Photo credit to the original photographers