Blog and opinion
22 November 2017 • by Fady Mikhail
Don’t complain – take the lead!
When I wrote my last blog, I was packing my bag to accompany city officials to Bogotá for the One Young World Summit. This summit has been held for seven years, each time in a different city, and it’s intended for the leaders of tomorrow. Now, exactly a month since my return, I’d like to share my experiences and what I learned with you.
Before my trip began, however, I was a little apprehensive. What should I expect? Would it really be as dangerous in Colombia as people say? These were the kind of questions whirling around in my head before my departure. Once I boarded the plane, though, I started to relax. I began to look forward to the experience.
We landed in Bogotá on Tuesday at 2 pm, local time. On stepping out, I took in the smell of Colombia. I also notice the smell of Egypt whenever I land there. Do you know what I mean? How a country smells is hard to describe, but in this case it was nice and South American. After a warm welcome with music, we were taken to our hotel.
It got me thinking
Now it’s time to talk about the Summit. (If you want all the ins and outs about my stay in Bogotá, I invite you to sit down with me over a nice cup of coffee ;-))
What made the Summit so special? Both the speakers and the atmosphere of the place were really fantastic. The speakers included Muhammed Yunis, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who played a pioneering role in the concept of microcredit. And then there was Koffi Anan – the former Secretary-General of the UN – Mama Bee, Tinie Tempah, CEOs of major companies, and, of course, our own Doutzen Kroes. But besides all of these speakers, the young people also got a chance to talk. It was wonderful to hear how they were doing things to help others despite their limitation or a war in their country.
It got me thinking. Why is it that today’s young people aren’t interested in contributing to the good of society? Do we feel we can just sit back and relax because we have everything we want in the Netherlands? What do you think about this?
What did I get from the Summit?
First of all: you’re not too young to lead. I’m not the only young person who thinks, “Oh, I’m too young” or “I don’t stand a chance against all those big guys”. But we should put an end to these ideas. You really do stand a chance: stand up and take the lead. Who says they can do any better? Start the ball rolling and, what’s most important, take your responsibility. It’s important to stand firmly on your own two feet. Some speakers weren’t much older than me and had already achieved great things. One of them was a girl who had been held hostage by the FARC at a young age, recovered from her experience, and started helping others after her release. I was impressed. I’d like to achieve something myself and, after hearing many speakers, I know I will, even though I don’t yet know how and what it will be.
Secondly: go for big because you were created for big. Test your limits and look farther than the length of your own nose. (In my case, I have to look a lot further, but that doesn’t matter ;-).) Also make sure to keep developing yourself. Keep yourself on your toes. Making the world a better place isn’t easy. What’s important is making a contribution and believing in what you’re doing.
Complaining doesn’t help. You have to keep moving forward. OK, it’s hard sometimes, I admit. But you just have to put your mind to it.
Finally: you can always contribute to change. It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from or where you live. You can always contribute to bringing about change. Here’s a story I’ll never forget. There was a boy from Rwanda who had survived a genocide at the age of seven and had witnessed his parents being killed before his very eyes. And he managed, no matter how hard it was, to forgive the murderers. This boy found a way to be of service to others. We shouldn’t set up unnecessary obstacles or make up excuses for ourselves. What were that boy’s obstacles or excuses?
People like us in the Netherlands could learn from these examples. Why aren’t we interested in meaningful issues? Why don’t we turn our focus to our fellow human beings? Why should money always be an obstacle? These are just a few questions bouncing around in my head.
It’s so frustrating. I’m not angry. I just think it’s a sorry state of affairs. I’d like to have social issues in Dutch society seen in a different light. Why not emphasise certain things instead of others? In the Netherlands, we’re really privileged in many ways. Consider voting, freedom, and how well everything here is organised as compared to some countries like Egypt, the country were I was born and lived in for seven years. The Dutch take much too much for granted and are resting on their laurels. As a country, we should adopt a different attitude. Heads up, backs straight. Reach out a hand. Together, we can build a better world.
Oh, maybe I shouldn’t complain.
The One Young World Summit will be held in The Hague in 2018. Yahoo!
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Fady is serving as a Youth Ambassador with responsibilities related to education for The Municipality of The Hague. In this position, he advises both the municipal authorities and other organisations in The Hague as well as being a liaison between young people and the city officials. Fady is also a youth spokesperson for UNICEF , a guest teacher at primary schools, and a full-time student in Finance and Control at The Hague University of Applied Sciences.