@AIESEC YouthSpeak Forum: The Exploration Of A Visitor’s Experience

Editor’s Note: Nigerian Youth Speak Forum 2016 themed – Leading Transformational Change In Nigeria held on Friday, September 23, 2016 at Glory View Hotel, Bodija Housing Estate, Ibadan. The Forum which is a phase of “The Youth for Global Goals (Y4GG)” is an initiative of AIESEC as its contribution towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The Y4GG other phases include: YouthSpeak Survey, YouthSpeak Insights, and the YouthSpeak Project.
Opetu Ebibote, a young writer was part of the occasion and she opens up her thoughts about the event which happens to be her first.

You have got to agree with me, for a seminar that I had barely prepared for because I thought that it would be just like any other seminar; a total lack of interest is justified.  This was the picture that came to mind, few hours listening to old boring people narrating long stories about their achievements without really teaching us how they got there. Little did I know that I was in for a big surprise. Truth be told, there were old people who talked about their achievement and there were times when I almost did fall asleep. But at the end of the day, all I thought was anyone who missed it, missed out on a whole lifetime opportunity.
        The gathering that met my eye rooted my feet to the ground. I wouldn’t have called it a crowd but it was sure more than I expected. I was lost when I got in (late though)and heard the event compere shouting "AIESEC"and theecstatic audience replied “What’s up!!!”. At first I didn’t understand - “what was up” but after the program I did. The forum was an extension of a three day seminar that was organized for AIESEC members across the country. I was told before my arrival, that AIESEC is a non-governmental organization that has its main focus on the empowerment of youths. But if I were to describe AIESEC, I would say, "AIESEC isn’t just an organization - it is a society with a culture of its own."First of all, they had a distinctive mode of greeting which baffled me and when they got angry, instead of the usual response of “What’s up”, they replied the speaker’s call with“sounds like shit”. Next was the presentation of seminars. Theirs wasn’t the usual motivational speeches delivered by highly paid motivational speakers. Members of the alumni engaged the participants in different interactive sessions after a series of lectures on “transformational change”. This scenario created the mental picture of a father or mother nurturing their children.
The program went on smoothly and though it was business oriented,there was a little shower of pleasure. It wasn’t only about the long doses of seriousness but also the little pills of laughter that seemed to set the mind at ease. The organizers kept in mind that though the program was designed to make the country a happy one in the future, efforts had to be made to ensure that the participants were happy even with the present state of things.  They kept into proper use, the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. The program was a fusion of work and play. It got more excitingduring the break when some of the participants went to the front of the hall and began a group dance. The sight of feet moving to the left and right; and hands swinging forward and backward; made me burst out in laughter where I was seated. At that moment, one could barely think of the problems that plagued the country, problem for which we had gathered todevelop a solution. All that came to mind was the sound of the hip hop music blasting through the speakers, the comical steps of dancers who didn’t really know how to dance and the feeling that 'all iswell.'
However, it didn’t end there. After the second session of seminars and conversations with the panelists, there was a break for lunch. Sitting down all day had weakened me and all I wanted to do was go home but I was stopped in my tracks. The DJ, thinking of ways to keep the audience busy played different clips from Britain Got Talents and for minutes my eyes were glued to the screen oblivious of the world around me, and again for the second time, we did not think of the problems that defaced our country instead we concentrated deeply on the wonders that others could perform with their talents.
            At a point, I felt so out of place and bored that I prayed that the program would end but then came what I call the enlightenment stage. A stage that explained what AIESEC is or should I say who she is, heraims, her achievements and most importantly her work in progress. Believe me, nothing could be more inspiring than a young guy standing in front of you telling you about his global company and how he started it with a zero naira plan. He was among the members of the alumni. The first speaker mentioned names of people who had once sat in AIESEC meetings and now where making their mark on the walls of time. As a lady,it is normal that the young guys who were part of the panelist would interest me. But this time, it wasn’t the beauty of the Italian suit or the nice pair of jeans or the dazzling native fabric on beautiful dark skin that caught my fancy. It was the fact that young guys like that had started making history no matter how little we may think it is.
        There in attendance were also other organizations that were geared towards not just the empowermentof youths but adults as well. It was really impressive that AIESEC reached out to other non-governmental organizations that could make better, the life of their members and 'stumblers' like me. A representative from one.org stepped to the podium and created awareness about the NGO. There were health facts that were to be learnt, the encouragement to read about the happenings in the country and ways in which they served as voice to people deprived of good health care. In giving a voice to these people, they recorded their lives and made it available to the whole world to see the trauma they were made to pass through. Some might disagree to this but what amused me about this organization was the petition we were asked to write. On the card was written “To President Buhari. I wondered how my thoughts on what is right or wrong  can change the situation of things in the country. The fact that I wasn’t a believer of such made it hard for me to humour them.
          Despite the major highlights, nothing was much more fun than the opportunity to meet with different people and share ideas with people of like minds. Though I felt too out of place to leave my seat, and therefore could not interact as I would have loved to; nevertheless, I still met a few people and just the thought of exchanging ideas was more exciting than words can describe. For the first time since almost a year of my knowing him, I met a friend yesterday. The forum served as a platform for ourmeeting. If anything could be erased from my memory, the ideas that were birthed in that forum while discussing with my friend, could never be erased. It was really interesting that these members were not only hearers of the word but were also doers. There were different little organizations that were advertizing different products.One contact I would never forget was when a lady walked up to me with stickers in her hands. At firstglance, the stickers were barely noticed because of the unique design of the cloth she was putting on. I was wowed when she told me it was hand sewn. But that is not the lesson I learnt the stickers in her hands read vision 2020. I didn’t see it as Important so I didn’t buy it. Later on, I was admonished by 'my friend' who stated clearly that no matter how little it was, she was effecting a change in her life financially.
           So, departure for me came with mixed feelings. Though I would have loved to stay I was tired of seating for hours. But the major thingis I went disinterested but I left empowered to take necessary steps in changing my future and this article is a proof.
          Maybe, I'll tell you more about my friend is the coming days, first, let me put to practice a little out of the much I've learnt at YouthSpeak Forum2016

Opetu Ebibote is a young writer who appreciates the gifts of words and its power to effect a change in the society. For her, writing is not limited to pen and paper. It also extends to social media platforms. She is based in Ibadan and currently a student of the University Of Ibadan.
She blogs @ Musespills and can be contacted via [email protected].You can also follow her on Twitter.

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