Young people are getting the brunt, socially and environmentally. It’s time we did something to change our lot
Recently I was one out of 1,000 millennials from 129 countries who met in Denmark. We spent 10 days coming up with new solutions for some pressing global issues. Our group included: medical students; social entrepreneurs; creatives; teachers; UN associates; and consultants who handle disaster and conflict zones. Basically, imagine the planes flying in and add your favourite anthem to get a sense of the diverse energy.
The first day, we gathered at a rustic conference space which was formally an old steam train workshop. Hundreds of jeans and Converse shoes alongside traditional African attire, all perched on randomly piled-up decks. We watched and listened as previous leaders inspired and briefed us on the key issues to tackle.
Uber-cool Aric Dromi, ‘futurologist, digital philosopher and professional troublemaker’ (he said it), set the tone for ambition telling us to plunge into our millennialism. The energy in the room could have revived those old engines. Our colour-coded tags reflected a multicoloured galaxy from diverse sectors.
On day two, coaches dispersed us amongst several headquarters of big companies relevant to our field. For Education & ICT, Microsoft demonstrated the full potential on our screens to support learning disabilities. Labster’s A.I re-affirmed exciting possibilities of the digital classroom. CIID Creative Innovation hub prompted my memories from working at the Creative Conscience Awards.
By the time we finished invading Copenhagen, we were trending on Danish Twitter and headed on a 4-hour drive to source ideas from a local folk high school. The scenic landscapes of Brandbjerg school were expected, but the teaching concept was a liberating pleasure.
‘Folk’ may suggest old-school ideas, but this is misleading. In fact, at Brandbjerg, traditional curriculum is discarded and replaced with a foundation in self-awareness. This is a teaching method that aims to guide young people towards discovering their own unique talents to share with the world.
I kept thinking; our generation is lucky if our regular schools encouraged us to think out of the box, but in folks schools, you get to live out of the box — something that’s desperately needed in these trying times.
The final three days took place in the city of Aarhus (host to the European Capital of Culture 2017). This was an entirely new world built around creativity, the arts and sustainable models. As a bit of a fashion connoisseur, I lit up every time we stepped into one of our host’s BESTSELLER HQ. A retail group of stimulating brands that drive sustainable development in the fashion industry. But don’t think that they compromise on style just because they do good — I, of course, did my best to pay homage given my 15 kg baggage allowance … .
The pressure however became very palpable on the penultimate day. Our faces no longer had the capacity to mask our exhaustion from scrambling to reach presentation deadlines — suffice to say, our vocabulary became incoherent.
On the final conference day, Ashton Kutcher, Mayor of Aarhus, investors, international politicians, leading activists and CEOs of prominent companies handed out awards and spoke. Some even stayed for drinks.
Mary, the Crown Princess of Denmark kept an understated and elegant presence. Her commanding words were delivered simply but unequivocally:
‘Girls and women are key to building healthy prosperous societies. When we invest in girls and women, society is better on the whole. So when companies improve conditions for women and girls it benefits them as well’.
I realised at the end of this that our minds, given a valid urgency, can tap into a tribal instinct. When necessary, we can deliver in a short space of time. Now is as good a time as any to deliver for our planet.
I am beyond honoured to be associated with all those young gladiators, driving positive change. The future is counting on us.
During my week’s stay not only did I get the opportunity to learn more but I also got the chance to discuss my own idea of ‘skilling’. This is a new way of employing millennials.
Unleash‘s innovation process allowed me to refine it into a platform that arms young people with skills and oversees their career strategies. At the same time, the platform acts as a recruitment tool for identifying skills beyond credentials — I look forward to presenting the SkilledIt APP in the near future!