By Alexander Lange
The 19th November 2015 marked a very special day for me. In fact it was the craziest, most eventful day of my life so far: I had the chance of speaking at the One Young World summit in Bangkok.
But let’s start a little earlier. When Telefónica announced that it would send 30 delegates to this year’s summit I knew that I would do anything to be one of them. So I thought hard about the task and decided to hand in an idea about how Telefónica can support the integration of the refugees that are now coming into Germany every day. After the crisis and the media attention grew I thought to myself: “Why have an idea and not do anything about it”. So I went first to my boss and then to other stakeholders within the company and presented my idea to them. Slowly the enthusiasm and the number of supporters grew and finally I received the message that we would be engaging in helping refugees. I talk about the project in my speech, have a look if you want to learn more about it.
So next I handed in my application as a delegate speaker for the Human Rights track thinking: “what harm can it do to apply?” Surprisingly I passed the first round and shockingly, after having had a 15 minute interview, I received the mail telling me that I was selected for the speech. At that time I was overwhelmed, even though I didn’t exactly know what was coming up.
In the next weeks I prepared my speech and had several rehearsals with the organizers at One Young World. They told me what to delete and where to emphasize but they never added a word.
Finally, the big day came. I wasn’t too nervous until everyone asked me how nervous I was. It made me realize that it’s a pretty big thing. One hour before the speech the delegate speakers for Human Rights and I met with our councillors. One word about the other speakers: They are such inspiring people from all over the world. It is incredible what these young people have achieved and I am so happy and grateful that they all have become my friends over the time of the conference. I highly recommend watching their videos and if anyone wants to contribute to their projects please contact me.
The councillors are people that already had a tremendous impact in the field and have the task of introducing the speakers. My councillor is Hans Reitz, a legend in the field of social business and a close friend of Prof. Muhammad Yunus. We chatted and immediately had a great connection. He told me about his life and I told him about my project. Since we all had some time left, we also got to know the other councillors and Hope Solo (Goalkeeper and Olympic Gold Medalist), Alexandra Mars (Founder of Epic Foundation) and Liya Kebede (Super Model and Activist) were super nice.
After taking a lot of pictures and selfies we went backstage. Former UN secretary and winner of the Nobel piece prize Kofi Annan was giving the introduction to our topic. After he finished we briefly met him backstage and exchanged a few words with him: what an incredible experience. Then we were asked on stage, where each of us was first introduced and then gave their speech. I can’t say a lot about that process because it was over so quickly. But people gave me good feedback on the speech so I guess it was alright.
Because we had Kamolnan in our group, who is a 19 year old woman from Thailand, who gave an inspiring speech about her support of stateless people, we were immediately approached by the Thai media after our session. The result was that in the evening we were invited into a TV studio. Two famous Thai TV hosts interviewed us for 20 minutes and a crew of about 30 people watched us very closely. Apparently the interview was broadcast on Thai Channel 3 that evening. Sadly, I didn’t get to see it but the experience is still unique.
This was the last highlight of a very eventful and unforgettable day. Over the next days so many people approached me to share their stories and to work together to help refugees. I even got a promise for a donation for this cause! Thanks to the Telefónica delegation who made this trip so wonderful and to Telefónica and OYW team for giving me and the other delegates this inspiring opportunity. Next year’s conference will be in Ottawa, Canada, and I highly recommend applying to go there – I certainly will.