Being the colorful, energetic and proactive person that she is, Lisa van der Heijden (in the red shirt) was one of our very first EPIC apprentices. During her apprenticeship the Public Leadership Foundation (PLF) linked her to One Young World(OYW). OYW is a UK-based charity that brings together the brightest young leaders from around the world during a annual summit, empowering them to make lasting connections to create positive change. Next year the summit will take place in The Hague and we are hoping to play an active role. But before that OYW 2017 is taking place in Bogotá, Colombia next week, and guess who is going? And she’s going to vlog and blog for the PLF!
Time flies. It only seems like yesterday that I received the news that I will be one of only 12 ambassadors to represent The Hague during this year’s One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Colombia.
PLFs core mantra about Making A Difference, or being MAD, really hits home! During the first conversation with OYW they immediately reacted enthusiastically to the whole MAD idea, and my fellow ambassadors decided to use MAD as the main theme during our presentation in the Peace Palace last week. The media asked why we had made this choice, and this is just the beginning of everything. I love every minute of this experience and I love being MAD.
I can’t believe that I will be on a flight to Bogota this week. That I will be on board a KLM Dreamliner on my way to a country that’s so different from ours, and where public leadership may be even more challenging then here. Public leadership demands courage, and this courage is context specific. How do you show courage? In Colombia, safety and freedom of speech have not always been taken for granted. It’s a place that has experienced more than its fair share of challenges, and people who used to be enemies are now working together on a solution. Working together making the country a better place to live and to thrive. Precisely the people who used to be on different sides in conflict now need to have the courage to let the past be the past and embrace each other in the interest of the country and its people.
I look forward to meeting fellow MAD people from around the world. I look forward to hearing all their MAD stories, but at the same time I am scared. I feel fear of the fact that we sometimes have a filter in our head that normalises what is not normal. A filter that makes us unable to feel the grief, pain, and horrors that is so real to so many people out there. But in a couple of days someone representing different realities and pain will stand in front of me in the person of a young leader who is able to tell her challenge in front of the entire world. Real challenges that are not comparable with the ones in The Netherlands.
We are going to Colombia to Make a Difference. We are all going there to be MAD! But what is really required to make a difference is my question? It starts with dialogue, engaging in conversations with people I have yet to meet in Bogota. It’s about listening, watching what’s happening in the world. It’s about a hand on someone’s shoulder. Together we will connect. We will do our best to work together across borders, nations, cultures, religions, politics and ideologies, and together we will make the world a little bit better.
No matter how many sessions we have in preparation for this trip we will never really be fully prepared for the One Young World summit. But, we are ready to take on what comes our way. We are ready to listen, to share and to be open minded. Confronted with issues of war, hunger and prosecution, I appreciate all the people who are prepared to take on the responsibility of showing public leadership. I admire their courage because these people are really MAD!
Making A Difference is not easy. It’s a constant process of connecting and working with others. One Young World Bogotá is only the beginning for me. The beginning of something very beautiful.
Check out Lisa’s first vlog here!