GYC Facilitators Kikoy, Madeline, Sherly and Sam (left to right)

A late night and early morning preceded the 2019 GYC Opening Ceremony for the Osaka YMCA Global Department staff and Interns. Months of preparation came to fruition as the Taiko Drummers took the stage to open the 5th Annual Global Youth Conference to over 90 young international delegates.

Mr Nikki Iwasaka, Vice President of Osaka YMCA Board addressed the eager delegates, reminiscing about his own global YMCA experience as a young man having attended World YMCA Camp in 1985. He shared with them that one can have the wisdom and the courage to overcome their political and cultural challenges and connect with others different from them. Mr Iwasaka led the delegates in a rendition of ‘We are the World’, reminding everyone of why it is important to attend events like the Global Youth Conference and wishing them a trans-formative time with Osaka YMCA.

What followed Mr Iwasaka was a showcase of passion and youth engagement. Youth Committee members and International High School students, Ayana and Cian were engaging MC’s and introduced the delegates to a range of people that were influential in the creation of this year’s conference. Treasurer of the Youth Committee, Eriko Fujita, delivered a rousing speech to the delegates, sharing with them her experience of attending the Global Youth Conference and how it changed her perspective of the world. Eriko urged delegates to recognise that ‘differences are important’. ‘Often we learn the most from people that have different opinions from ours’ she said. This is the message that delegates must carry with them throughout the GYC.

Bianca Yamaguchi, a pioneer in zero waste living in Japan and the author of The Zero Way presented a challenging and informative Keynote Address. She asked delegates to consider themselves the superheroes that this world needs - and if they were, what superpowers would they have? Whether it is selling your car and walking to work or using your power as a consumer to influence our society, Bianca firmly asserted that one individual can make a difference.

Following the bus ride up to Mt Rokko, delegates had a tour of the beautiful campgrounds and were led through some camp activities by Mt Rokko Intern Matt D’Arcy and Kindergarten Assistant Intern Marcell Wombwell. After a delicious dinner, delegates gathered together to relax, watch a movie and play games. With over 90 delegates from 15 countries and territories, Day 1 was fare-welled with new experiences and friendships alike.