“We don't have a choice because if we don't make a change, we won't have a future.”
Throughout the Nordic Young Change Leaders Summit, I learned useful ideas that helped me in both the short- and long-run. The majority of the time was structured to discuss strategies for addressing important issues such as self-leadership and active listening, watching live speakers and participating in break-out sessions. Aside from that, I met a lot of wonderful people from all over the region who are working to make a difference in their communities. Seeing the enthusiasm of young Nordic athletes was both inspiring and empowering for me.
What did I do before the Summit?
Before the Nordic Youth Summit, I began several social initiatives to improve the lives of our community members. I founded Hope for Youth Development, a non-profit organization restoring hope for youth by empowering them in the development of mentorship and capacity building to make them the better leaders that society needs and adding value to the nation's growth as a whole.
So I came to the Summit on behalf of our organizations and as a young changemaker to improve my efforts and meet the other participants.
How the journey was started
In the arrival day, I had the opportunity to meet and travel with some of the Swedish participants at the airport. We arrived in Haparanda after a long journey and ate a delicious buffet dinner of one of my favourite foods, local seafood. We were given some instructions about the location and other important requirements, while we also had the opportunity to get to know each other over dinner, which allowed us to introduce ourselves and the work we do as changemakers.
During the storytelling session, it was extremely motivating to hear the wonderful stories about the other participants' contributions to social development and entrepreneurship. We asked various questions, such as everyone’s thoughts on youth development and change-making. It was inspiring to hear about the fantastic dreams and outstanding work that delegates had already accomplished. I had the opportunity to stay with four amazing participants, two of whom were from Finland and Norway, while I and the other young men were from Sweden. We continued our overture, and each person shared his wonderful work in youth development and other areas of society. Some of us were involved in various youth organizations, while others came up with a successful business idea.
What were the highlights?
My Finnish roommate has a wonderful personality – he truly embodies social well-being. I paid close attention to his ideas on entrepreneurship, and we talked about the importance of creativity and mindset, and how everyone must challenge himself/herself. We recall a lively discussion about youth integration, the organization of another Summit, meetings between Nordic youth, and the establishment of a center of youth excellence. We shared beautiful stories and many positive ideas, brimming with energy and optimism.
The first day
We heard the river's waves and admired the beauty of the snow before the first seminar began. The lecture was about mental health, which was fantastic. We learned about various types of advocacy and assistance when it comes to mental health issues. Even if we are not psychiatrists, psychologists, or medical professionals, we were taught how to help people who are suffering from mental health issues and what kind of strategy we need.
Gaining helpful tools and techniques for honing our leadership skills also meant learning not only how to lead others, but how to lead ourselves.
I also learned how to strengthen awareness of resources and strategies for maintaining positive mental health in my city and community, including several lectures on what it takes to lead others, an organization, and yourself. We also had the opportunity to hear Jimmy Westerheim, the founder of The Human Aspect, share his inspiring story and advice.
The Peer Support Session, throughout which we focused on active listening, was especially interesting and we participated in debates about how to solve the problems that were assigned to us in this activity. During the Peer Support Session, we gave each other advice and shared our struggles, demonstrating the value and power of feedback.
We started the second day with mediation, motivating ourselves and each other. On the final day, we learned how to use advocacy to increase the impact of the work we do. For example, Andrea Bocconi from The Good Lobby presented key topics, and we were then required to summarize them and finish the session as a group. During the final session, everyone shared their Summit experiences, during which I was pleased to hear the positive feedback from the group and how well they felt after joining.
What have I taken away from this experience?
I understand the difficulties that many communities are facing today and how this has affected them. More importantly, everyone's positive energy on addressing these challenges was spreading like wildfire, and I am overjoyed to be a part of this Summit. Even if decision-makers are unable to respond to our calls-to-action, I am confident that we will continue to raise our voices and work towards a future that prioritizes sustainability, social justice, and improved health and well-being for all Nordic youth and those around the world.
"I'll see you soon, and I'll tell everyone that we can all learn and improve."