By Danelle Hueging
One of the best decisions I made last year was participating in the JCI World Congress in Leipzig, Germany.
I was one of over 4,500 participants from 106 nations gathered in one place for a week of training, exchanges and international networking with Jaycees who all strive for positive impact in their community.
I stepped off the train from Berlin and into a conference like no other. Leipzig boasts a beautifully modern convention centre with grand halls that take your breath away – this is where the opening ceremonies took place.
Thousands of delegates grouped by nation waved their country’s flags and sang their anthems. Live music, dancing and pyrotechnics followed, filling the grand halls with jubilance and getting everyone energized for a week of learning, networking and celebration. It was day one, and already I was blown away!
And so kicked off my first JCI World Congress.
Every day of the week had its own theme: Invest, Impact, Collaborate, Connect and Motivate. All daily activities, like workshops with world-class keynote speakers and group discussions led by industry experts, revolved around these daily themes.
Mixed with these activities were the debate competition, training sessions, the World Effective Speaking Championship (where JCI Winnipeg’s Natasha Fisher represented the Americas), group excursions, trade shows and the General Assembly of all National Presidents.
There were so many activities to take in, but there were two I couldn’t miss: the World Effective Speaking Championship and the General Assembly.
Natasha Fisher brought JCI Winnipeg to the world stage in the effective speaking championship. Her path began in Winnipeg in 2013, where she competed locally, regionally and nationally to earn the top spot as Canada’s Effective Speaking Champion. Her next stop took her to the JCI Conference of the Americas in Medellín, Colombia in April 2014. Once again taking the top seed, Fisher earned her place on the world stage and would compete, as representative of the Americas, in Leipzig at the JCI World Congress. Finishing as one of the top four speakers in the world is quite the accomplishment for our own Winnipegger!
I also wanted to make sure to catch an important announcement regarding who was to host World Congress in 2016. The local JCI chapter in Quebec City, called Jeune chambre de commerce de Quebec, had submitted a bid to host, and it was awarded during General Assembly. I met up with all the Canadian delegates present at World Congress to celebrate this great news that represents over $12 million in economic activity for the Quebec City region as host.
Other highlights of the conference included workshops aimed at developing Jaycees who would return to their local chapters as certified JCI trainers; discussions revolving around sustainability and environmental impact; and the different projects other JCI chapters led in regard to these important issues. We also discussed Nothing but Nets, a campaign aimed at providing nets to fight against malaria in impoverished areas of the world.
The fun didn’t stop as in the evenings we were treated to nightly parties hosted by different chapters that showcased the many different cultures coming together under one roof.
There were plenty of opportunities to connect with other young professionals from all walks of life, including candidates for the Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) recognitions like Darren Lomman from Australia, who applied his education and experience in biomedical engineering to a passion for helping people with disabilities. The success of his first invention, a hand-controlled motorcycle for paraplegics, quickly ignited the formation of DreamFit, a non-profit providing innovative equipment solutions for making dreams possible for people with disabilities.
Ruth Riley from the United States, a professional women’s basketball player in the WNBA, is a leader and visionary on and off the court. Riley joined the UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign to create awareness, advocate for government support, and inspire other athletes to join the fight against malaria. She also co-founded an NGO called Inspire Transformation. The organization’s programs support local leaders in underprivileged areas while establishing community-based initiatives using sports, music, counselling, or other activities to create positive change.
Inspiration and motivation comes easily after witnessing what these individuals could accomplish, often with fewer resources than what is available to us in Canada.
World Congress wrapped up with an impressive gala that united the 4,500-plus delegates into yet another beautiful grand hall. We kicked off the 100 Years of Impact celebration that marks JCI’s 100th anniversary in 2015, and the Jaycees sure do know how to throw a good party! Here’s to the next 100 years of empowering young people to create positive change!
You too can get involved. Join us at a JCI Winnipeg’s Month End Mixer to share your vision of a better community, engage JCI members toward betterment, and discover the avenues of potential and impact that exist within JCI Winnipeg to empower young people to create positive change. Visit jciwinnipeg.blogspot.ca for more information.