Taking the YAS energy into 2018

We’re still in the mood for welcoming 2018 – and with a new set of days ahead to make a difference, there’s no time like these first weeks of the year to get started on a new project! For me, this year begins with the impetus of experiencing an amazing, life-changing event just a short time ago. It’s been three months since the Youth Ag-Summit ended, but for delegates, our energy and motivation levels are still at a high – especially if you see your ‘Three Little Things’ commitment on your pineapple poster every day, or use your YAS cup every morning!

This passion didn’t just come from winning a spot at YAS or getting the opportunity to travel to Belgium, but from meeting inspiring people, and experiencing the energy all around. I loved every minute, from the marketplace, to the farm visit, to the European Parliament… not to mention the food: waffles, Belgian fries – and the ugliest but tastiest pear I’ve ever eaten! (Seriously – see for yourself in the picture!) It might be ugly, but I loved that the organizers really walk the talk when it comes to cutting food waste, showing that all food is good, no matter how it looks.

A huge part of the Summit was the breakout sessions. We knew we would work on ‘Thrive for Change’ projects, but had no idea what it would involve. It was such a new experience, with ten countries meeting in one room to design a project. It was a mix of accents, cultures, idioms, backgrounds and knowledge, but at the end of the day, we shaped ourselves into one single family. Our project AGRIKUA was based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal ‘Gender Equality’ (SDG 5). Knowing that discrimination against women costs Africa billions every year, we want to set up an online platform where young Kenyan women can access information about opportunities in agriculture.

After creating a plan and pitching our project on stage, we all were collapsing with emotion. We realized how incredible all the projects were, and that 100% of the people (delegates, mentors, jury, staff) were doing an awesome job. Incredibly, our effort received the top prize of €10,000 from Bayer! This funding will definitely help to move our project from being a great idea, to deliver real empowerment to Kenyan women and solve food insecurity through education.

Sounds breathtaking, right? It was indeed, and the whole event was like that! The environment was full of dynamism and so many details that made us immerse ourselves in a totally different world for a week. Sadly, the last day in Belgium came and we all had to say goodbye, but with the certainty that we now have friendships, spread all around the world, that will last forever – and knowing the impact of the Summit will live on in our day-to-day lives. The YAS effect is still tangible, especially because we’ve now got a mission to complete our ‘Three Little Things.’

And how am I getting on with that? Well, I can happily tell you that I’ve already started my own local movement: ‘INCOMODATE’ in Spanish. Literally, it means ‘GET UNCOMFORTABLE’ – but explaining a little deeper, it’s a movement working on calling up one and all to make a social impact in three fields: hunger, education and gender equality. It’s born from the idea that everyone can do something, and that every action counts. To get more information, I invite you to write to info@incomodate.org. The website is coming soon!

Besides that, one of the many things I got out of the Summit was learning of incredible initiatives like Thought for Food. Just by listening to what it was about, I fell in love with the organization – and that’s why I was so happy to finish 2017 with the news that I’ve been selected as a TFF Ambassador for 2018! I’ll be working on engaging and empowering people with the aim of feeding 9+ billion people by 2050, connecting with one of the TFF core beliefs: “We can change the world.” And this year, anyone under the age of 35 can be part of the solution by participating in the 2018 TFF Challenge!

If you’re interested, the sign-ups open on 15 January. Follow this link and spread the word!

There’s plenty of more things to express but finally, I want to say THANK YOU. Thanks to the masterminds behind the Youth Ag-Summit, the organizers, the staff that prepared every detail, the mentors and all the team that made this experience possible. This initiative really inspires, impacts and empowers young leaders who are looking for concrete ways to reach the goal of feeding a hungry planet.

And to anyone else reading: long-term change will have to be built by our hands. YAS was a call to action to start moving ourselves. Three months might have passed, but the force that seized us in October remains as valid as before – so let’s keep us moving forward to be the change in the world!



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