Hello kind readers!
Well it has been an incredibly rewarding, informative and long day here in Paris and we are exhausted, satisfied and eager for more! This morning we woke up bright and early after a solid four hour sleep (apparently this jet lag thing is real). But no worries, let not our sleep deprived selves prevent us from having a good day – a good breakfast and cup of café au lait made it all better! Off we went to the youth forum for the opening ceremonies at 9:45am. The room was abuzz with the excitement of hundreds and hundreds of delegates, observers, and youth participants from all over the world.
If we could sum up the day in a few words, it would be: chance encounters, networking, intense discussion, and sitting on the edge of seats ready to participate. There are so many quotes, inspirational words, and in-depth topics to cover, one can easily be overwhelmed by information overload. However, as Nick, the 17 year old app producer wisely said on the stage, ‘if you are ever faced with information overload, simplify it.’ By ‘simplifying it’, we mean returning back to the theme of UNESCO and remembering that we are here to express not our personal views, but the views of the youth that we consulted over the past month.
The opening ceremonies set the tone for the conference: these were, without a doubt, some of the most inspiring speakers we have ever had the privilege to hear, including a welcome message from Ms. Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s Director-General (ps. First woman to EVER hold that title). Also presenting at the opening ceremonies were well-spoken youth that shared their stories of entrepreneurship, sport, overcoming barriers to physical disability, and more.
Axis discussion on Policy formulation and review with the participation of youth
The youth-led thematic plenary debate took place shortly thereafter, and Claire and I were very eager to get to work to share Canadian perspectives on youth and social inclusion. Throughout the day, we found it to be an incredibly useful tool that we had gone through a consultation process prior to coming to Paris, as our insights into what Canadian youth think were useful in understanding Axis 1: Policy Formulation and review with the participation of youth. As much as Jimmy had told us that consultation processes were very useful in preparing the Canadian position, we only realized just how useful it was to have a solid set of recommendations from Canadians during the debates. Once more…thank you to our in-person and online consultation participants for all the important perspectives. We are really striving to mention all the important points that were brought up to represent Canadian youth to be best of our abilities! We also had a great discussion with one of the secretariats about policy formulation, which helped us contextualize our position.
Claire in the Axis meeting
Betsy in the Axis Meeting
Lots for one day, But the day was not done just yet! We have a lot of preparations for tomorrow and the last day. Our personal goals are first and foremost, to come prepared bright and early to give a presentation to a very important member of UNESCO tomorrow. Also, we are excited to explore different axis groups to plug in the rest of our recommendations that we got from the Canadian consultations.
We finished off our day with a lovely walk in what is truly the city of lights; We are including in this post the event that made miss Betsy absolutely overjoyed: the Eiffel Tower twinkling in the evening glow of Paris!!
Betsy and Claire
This 17 year old kid (Nick) had such valuable things to say! We were inspired!
The key to Betsy’s heart and smile! Twinkly lights in the soft moonlight!
Irina Bokova opening the Forum