Aaron, Kyrah, Olivia, Libby and I were all invited to attend the South Coast Youth Leadership Forum, which was a 3 day camp aimed at invigorating and inspiring young leaders to bring about change in the Shoalhaven.
On the first day, we spent most of the time at the Council being introduced to the other 60 students and getting to know our mentors for the weekend.
Our main focus was on our core values and our “glocalization” groups. Glocalization was combining global and local issues, such as education, and coming up with a simple solution that could be integrated into the community.
The rest of the day consisted of meeting the Mayor and talking about local issues, and then becoming settled into our rooms at Waterslea.
Our second day was focused on social topics such as stereotyping and privilege. These talks were very inspiring and taught us never to judge a book by its cover, which is what society has taught us to do. The fact that we must tear away from social norms and create a better non-discriminatory society was the main focus of these talks, as well as understanding that everybody comes from a different place in life and some have to work harder than others to get to the same place.
My favourite part of the weekend was when we met Darren Flanagan, a Nowra local who helped get the trapped miners out of Beaconsfield mines. His talk was truly emotional and awe inspiring as he recounted every second of his story, but also the story of how the miners were trapped and survived. We were able to hear details not revealed on the news about what happened in those fateful days.
On Saturday we welcomed the mental health group, Batyr, to talk to us about the stigma around mental illness. They brought in speakers, who had actually experienced mental illness, to tell us about their stories. This was a good way to get everybody listening and talking about the issue.
On the final day, we focused on finishing our Globalization projects and presenting them to our Member of Parliament, Mrs Anne Sudmalis MP.
The person who had the best idea and presentation would get a grant and be able to integrate their project into the local community.
After our presentations, we farewelled all of our new friends, and the amazing mentors who we had developed a strong bond with.
Overall the experience was extremely encouraging and inspiring, which is why I am planning on making a trip to Vietnam through Sonder Youth, an amazing volunteering company run by one the mentors, Avalon, which focuses on giving aid to those less fortunate.