Op-Ed: Lessons Learned on the Roberto Clemente Bridge: One Young World Bridge Party

By Lily Zhang, Senior, North Allegheny

Coming into the One Young World bridge party, I expected a relaxing aftermath to the intense opening ceremony. The bridge party provided just that. But even more significantly, the delegates’ interactions at the party on the Roberto Clemente Bridge revealed youth leaders at their core, fostering hope for a future of global unity in leadership.

I realized just how welcoming these delegates were when two different people introduced themselves to me before I even went up to them. Thus, in this intriguing shift in the social paradigm, the guests from foreign nations came up to the person from the host nation; the interviewees actually approached the reporter.

And the friendliness extended beyond the introductions. Unfamiliar with the nuances of an Australian accent, I couldn’t understand why delegate John Allan kept patiently repeating that his last name did not begin with and “I,” but with “Aye.” When I finally figured out that “apple begins with ‘Aye’,” we both burst out in laughter at this instance of miscommunication.

Similarly, my conversation with a French-speaking group of delegates definitively shattered the stereotype of haughty Frenchmen. As I practiced my high school French with these delegates, they put me at ease as we toyed with French wordplay.

When asked what they enjoyed most about the summit so far, the overwhelming majority of delegates cited the inspiration gained from the speakers at the opening ceremony, from President Bill Clinton to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus to singer/activist Sir Bob Geldof.

The majority of the delegates are most looking forward to meeting other young people and hearing their ideas, the ideal attitude for participants of such a forum.

But perhaps most encouraging is the delegates’ positive outlook on their own nations. Returning Ambassador Kevin Carter from Pittsburgh stated, “I hope that they see that the US isn’t as bad as its politics.” Kenyan delegate Ndanu Mwatu spoke about the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other horrors following the conflict in her country over the disputed results of the election. Nonetheless, she revealed, “I’m proud of my president and Prime Minister because they gave us peace.”

The overall sentiment illustrated the pride and hope delegates expressed for their nations, a great launching point for the discussions to ensue. After all, change must begin somewhere, and there is no better starting point than one’s home country.

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