BLOG: Youth Co-Chair reflections - Haengeun
28 September 2012
22 September 2012: Challenge 2012.
The day of challenge began with me waking up in the dark, the early hours before the sunrise, and catching a train to Embankment station. As I walked into the Royal Festival Hall, I was greeted with the smile on the faces of hundreds of youth volunteers. It was then that I realised that this was going to be huge – it was going to be the day of change.
As the time of the opening ceremony drew closer, the excitement for the day grew. In no time, people started to fill the auditorium and Ndidi Okezie, my inspirational teacher, soon made the grand opening address to the big day and launched Challenge 2012. Once the Co-Chairs addressed each of the five challenge areas, and reflected on their thoughts, it was our turn as Youth Co-Chairs to represent and articulate the voice of the youth. As I walked on stage along with four other inspiring Youth Co-Chairs - Alex, Cyan, Michael and Samad - I was amazed by the passion, excitement and enthusiasm of 3,000 people. It was just astonishing to see that such a huge number of people dedicating their time to take part in the event, determined to play a role in achieving the vision that “no child’s educational success is limited by their socio-economic background”. It was an incredible experience to speak in front of such a huge crowd and share our thoughts on the five 2022 Impact Goals.
After the opening ceremony we were invited to the collective impact round table to continue the discussions introduced at the opening ceremony. Chaired by Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Adviser to Pearson, 35 senior figures from the world of education, politics, business and the third sector worked together in a small group to explore how we might achieve collective responsibility to work towards achieving Teach First’s shared vision. It was particularly interesting to hear such diverse views and solutions suggested by each sector. Despite having conflicting views on some of the issues, it was clear that their willingness to collaborate was the same for everyone. Blackrock and Deloitte in particular have agreed to work together to connect their Teach First participants and help further develop the ambassadors network. It was great to see all the sectors putting aside their individual goals to focus on addressing educational disadvantage. There was no doubt that we were taking a closer step towards achieving the vision.
As soon as the round table was finished, there was no time to lose: I had to run up the stairs to the 6th floor to attend discussion based activity, ‘Addressing the STEM Challenge’. I was given another great opportunity to deliver a short speech in front of small group of delegates about my passion for mathematics, and the influence of good maths teachers. There was a smile and a sound of agreement as I spoke of Euler’s identity and how “I enjoyed maths ever more because I had teachers who shared my passion, and who encouraged me to pursue that passion”. It was great to see that such a great discussion was taking place about how we can further encourage STEM subjects, and I was glad to have taken part in making the discussion possible.
This fantastic discussion was then followed by hearing the inspirational life stories from four panel members in the activity ‘I am Young and I am Winning’. Hearing extraordinary achievements such as becoming one of the youngest ever Masters Degree graduate from Oxford University, and being voted in as young mayor of Lewisham made me realise once again how much potential young people possess. Given the right opportunities at the right time, all young people can achieve success in their chosen path and reach their potential to amaze the world.
As the closing ceremony slowly approached, 3,000 people once again gathered in auditorium, full of energy after a long day of excitement. I was amazed to see that the same level of passion, excitement and enthusiasm I saw in the morning was still present at the end of the day. As I set down amongst the crowd, hearing ten people’s commitments to play their part in making five 2022 Impact Goals possible, my final thought of the day was ‘hope’. It was a feeling of hope and excitement as I saw that Challenge 2012 was going to become the day of catalyst. Catalyst to infinite possibilities ahead…
Words simply cannot describe how amazing the day has been – the sheer enormity of the day left me speechless. It had been a great privilege to have represented thousands of young people throughout the day as Youth Co-Chair. I am glad to have taken part in such an inspirational and life changing experience.
Thank you so much Teach First, and especially Ndidi Okezie, for this wonderful opportunity.
Is change possible? Yes it is! We’ve seen it happen. We can make it happen. We just need to do it!
Challenge 2012 is only the beginning.