Have you ever been part of a race where running feels like a bigger achievement than winning? Blogger Kaavya Raveendran has. She loved it, although nobody could point out the country ‘Benelux’ on the map.
© Sven Menschel
The entire last week I spent in London, representing Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg (BeNeLux) in a competition about promoting ideas that help corporate businesses make a larger societal impact through sustainability. I was part of a culturally diverse team holding the banner of Benelux. It was pretty funny every time someone asked me where Benelux was on the map. It was also strange to tell people repeatedly that I was not from Team India.
Moving past these two identity crises, I would say that it was by far the most internationally enriching experience I have had. Finally, travelling so many miles away from home paid off. There were teams from 27 countries, winners of 27 national levels of this competition, like us. Meeting and mingling involved exchanging numbers and LinkedIn profiles -- in other words: networking -- was great. Prodigious minds and ideas from all over the world were put together in the same room and the vibe that went around was rewarding. Meeting influential and top professionals of the field raised the bar to new heights.
Each team a winner in itself
Now, let me come to the point. Have you ever been part of a race where running feels like a bigger achievement than winning? Well, this competition was such a race. Each team had brilliant ideas to pitch, with immense confidence. And the way each pitch was delivered, showed that each team was a winner in itself; the competition was just for the subjective liking of the jury. Teams who didn’t qualify or win didn’t think any less of themselves and they applauded for the ones who did with utmost diligence.
That’s when I realized the true essence of internationalism. It is not about competing with your differences, but about celebrating your similarities. There were no teams, just 81 young minds supporting and encouraging budding ideas. And that was a magically positive atmosphere, the real international experience! Each member worked hard, but it was to only make it count, to make a societal impact and to make a difference in this world. This constructively aligned mission gave everyone a reason to believe and look at the bigger picture.
The future is safe
Everyone cared first about humanity and the environment before they did about themselves winning this competition. Wonderful, isn’t it, when you see that the millennials thinking this way naturally, without any push or influence to do so -- who says the future generation is selfish? They care, and most importantly: they really act. They do what matters and they stand for what they believe in. So, in short, the future is in safe and responsible hands.
Diversity is a boon
Recently, when I was hosting the Fashion Show of the One World Week 2019 at WUR, I mentioned that diversity is a boon: let's celebrate it together. I say that here again. Diversity is a powerful instrument that should be fostered. Young minds should be as open as they can be to the flow of new ideas, initiatives and experience, support what they believe in and hold hands to make a worldwide impact.