Day 2 has been a day for me of deep frustration but ultimately of deep joy.
The day started with a plenary that assumed knowledge many of didn’t have ( as anyone who’s been following my tweets @lylyee may have gathered) before heading into a conversation that highlighted the need to understand what we’re changing before we change it.
The session was pitched as an opportunity to ‘Set a structure for a Better Future’ by re imagining how we as young people organise ourselves in the Commonwealth. Like yesterday the initial conversations in my group tended to be a purge of all the frustrations people have with the current system. The reality of this and the way this discussions often centre on the past rather than looking into the future says a lot to me on the need for people to feel listened to and have a space to vent their frustrations. This isn’t the space for that at all, but there needs to be a space for this somewhere in the conversation. People need a space to let go of the old before they can step into the new clean.
The frustration did eventually lead to some constructive debate but I feel we could have found our way there quicker and more effectively had their been an appropriate space to vent prior to engaging in conversations that ask us to consider systematic change. Any conversation about systematic change tends to be problematic enough when you consider how deeply our views are shaped by the reality of operating within existing systems.
I won’t give you a blow by blow of the session other than too say, the particular group I was working on came to a passionate consensus regarding the need for resources to make it to RYC’s and the Commonwealth Youth Development Bank, only to be told that there is in fact an allocated budget and in recent years it’s been significantly underspent (Please note – no one has actually really explained what RYC’s are or they do for those of us who came into this with limited understanding of the Commonwealth, however you can find out by doing some Google snooping and the general conversation here which has enlightened me significantly. In basic terms it’s youth rep position for each region of the Commonwealth).
All of this begs the question why doesn’t that money filter down directly to the RYC’s? If RYC positions were paid this makes them automatically accountable, gives them leverage with other organisations and possible creditors and gives them tangible resources to achieve their purpose. This seemed like a no-brainer to our group – so why isn’t it happening? Presumably there is some ‘good’ reason as to why there is in unspent money in the budget and this isn’t happening.
Anyhow, I’m aware of time slipping away (why are you wasting it by reading this blog?) – I still haven’t managed to have Breakfast and Day 3 is about to start.
A highlight of Day 2 for me was hearing the Hon. Michael Kirby (former justice of the High Court of Australia and a member of the Emminent Person’s Group for the Commonwealth) speak at or Civil Society Lunch. I won’t rehash his words here as I quoted all the key points over twitter with the #honmichaelkirby, but suffice to say he is an intelligent, passionate man and a credit to this country.
The afternoon for many of us was a sadly wasted opportunity, touted as skills sessions, many reported the sessions to be basic and things which they’d obviously covered before (hence how they managed to be a chosen delegate in the first place). There is a time and place for skills building but many felt our time would have been better spent building stronger recommendations.
The day ultimately ended on a joyful and pivotal experience for me and many other delegates however with a Cultural Performance Evening over dinner. Each region presented a snapshot of their region and shared some of their music, dance or other aspects of their culture. This experience moved me deeply. Watching each and every one of our regions, their colourful & vibrant energy & their deep generosity I was struck again with the thought ‘if only we could all have the opportunity to dance with those who are different from us’.
Our Australian group was incredibly disorganised but the day was saved by our AMAZING indigenous contingent (Maddie, Lucy, Kia and a young man who’s name I haven’t caught yet). Maddia led the way by singing ‘My Island Home’ at the beginning of the night and the Australian delegates took to the stage in a show of solidarity to clap and sway behind her. The group of 4 then finished off the night by painting themselves and beginning a dance to the song ‘Treaty’ (those of you who know me will know how close this song is too my heart – the lyrics were taped precariously to my pantry cupboard for many many years!), Maddie then invited all of us to dance with them and show our supports and connection (Raquel managed to capture the beginning of this dance on her phone, take a look here).
Every single region showed that they have something precious to offer and that they know how to sing and dance!
I’m now officially late for breakfast so I wont’ say anymore except this – the world is so big and so precious. Watching our delegates celebrate their cultural backgrounds last night all I could think was how incredibly precious and each and every one of us is. How human we all are. Vulnerable, passionate, generous of spirit, questing…
Thank you CYF 2011 for allowing me to see our people dance.