By Lily Zhang, Senior, North Allegheny High School
The One Young World opening ceremony inspired delegates, counselors, and observers alike, featuring the performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Children’s Festival Chorus of Pittsburgh as well as speeches by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, President Bill Clinton, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus, and singer/activist Bob Geldof.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s performance introduced delegates to one of the many cultural gems Pittsburgh has to offer. In fact, during last year’s summit in Zurich, Switzerland, the PSO was just 32 miles away performing in Lucerne, Switzerland. The request for a PSO performance was not granted at the summit last year, making the orchestra’s appearance at the ceremony last night even more significant. Likewise, the performance by Pittsburgh’s very own Children’s Festival Chorus truly embraced the spirit and aspiration of the summit.
After the PSO and Children’s Festival Chorus of Pittsburgh performances came speeches of noteworthy dignitaries, all of which embodied the essence of the One Young World Summit.
Ravenstahl, the youngest mayor of any major US city, left the youth delegates with the message not to succumb to discouragement. President Clinton answered several delegates’ questions about world issues, ranging from the Arab Spring to international aid. “My goal is to work myself out of a job,” he joked, referring to the William J. Clinton Foundation and his commitment to helping nations develop sustainable institutions.
Founder of the Grameen bank, Muhammad Yunus gave delegates background into his philosophy of banking and his approach to societal issues. “Don’t be scared if you don’t know something,” he advised the delegates. On a more urgent note, Bob Geldof warned delegates that “what we are suffering from…is a lack of leadership.” He emphasized that the power for change rested in today’s youth. “It’s not in my hands anymore,” he declared, “it is in yours.”
Overall, the ceremony, lasting over three hours, provided a perfect beginning for delegates to dive into global issues in the upcoming days of the summit. There is an energized atmosphere in the air as the delegates, whom World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh CEO Steven Sokol refers to as the “members of the successor generation,” prepare for their beginning plenary sessions. As expressed by Muhammad Yunus, “The distance between the possible and impossible is getting closer and closer.”