Reflecting on Commonwealth Youth Leadership Week 2016April 14th, 2016
“The CYLW 2016 was a true token of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s commitment to youth development.”
The Commonwealth Youth Leadership Week 2016 sought to empower the various youth networks to be centres of excellence in their fields, writes George Stanley Njoroge, a member of the Commonwealth Students Association from Kenya, as he discusses his participation in CYLW 2016.
From 13-22 March 2016, the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Division hosted about 20 leaders from the various Commonwealth youth networks , as well as the 2016 Commonwealth Youth Award Winners, for a week-long Commonwealth Youth Leadership Workshop (CYLW) at their headquarters in Marlborough House, London. The CYLW was held alongside Commonwealth Week, a landmark event in its own right as it not only celebrated Her Majesty the Queen’s ninetieth birthday but also served to mark the sunset of H.E. Kamalesh Sharma’s time as Commonwealth Secretary General. This year’s celebrations were held under the theme ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’.
We took part in various celebratory events, which included the Council for Education in the Commonwealth’s (CEC) Commonwealth Day Seminar under the theme “Achieving an Inclusive Education -what role for the Commonwealth?” at the Palace of Westminster; the Commonwealth Observance Service at the Westminster Abbey; the annual Commonwealth Day Reception; and the Commonwealth Youth Awards at Marlborough House. We also interacted with young entrepreneurs from the UK at an event held at Wyra, an entrepreneurial hub based in Central London.
Through various presentations from the divisions and units of the Secretariat, as well as interaction with consultants in resource mobilisation and strategic planning, the Commonwealth Youth Leadership workshop achieved its objectives, which were to provide:
• an understanding of the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Youth Division and other Commonwealth bodies,
• an understanding of current global youth development issues and priorities, and
• personal and professional development training on leadership, communication, advocacy and planning.
Youth leaders were also afforded opportunities to network, interact and engage stakeholders such as the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, and the Commonwealth Games Federation. In addition to receiving mentorship from the leadership of the Youth Division, we also had the honour of spending time with the Deputies Secretary-General of the Secretariat, Mr Deodat Maharaj and Dr Josephine Ojiambo, who took time out of their busy schedules to have lunch and share words of wisdom from their vast experience.
After the workshop came to an end, we were commissioned to serve as ambassadors of the Commonwealth, through our designation as Commonwealth Champions, a new leadership recognition scheme instituted by outgoing Secretary-General Sharma. As a participant I still marvel at the planning, resources, and excellence that made this event a reality. The CYLW was a true token of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s commitment to youth development, as it sought to empower all the various youth networks to be centres of excellence in their fields and to develop their own strategic direction that will benefit the 1.3 billion young people they represent and serve.
To the team that made this happen: Hongera!