Delegate from the USA, Allishia Edmonds on her experience at this year's Opening Ceremony at Soccer City, Johannesburg.
It was the night we had all been waiting for. Some have been waiting longer than others but all anxious. It was the first night that the 1,250 delegates from all four corners of the world were gathered under one "roof"... in this case, the incredible Soccer City in Johannesburg.
As we arrived on buses, we were all absolutely blown away by the magnitude of this amazing facility. The architecture and beauty is like none other. Delegates were taking pictures with new and old friends as we prepared to begin the night and there was a buzz coming from inside the stadium. As if that wasn't breathtaking enough, here came the flag bearers. We've all heard and have seen the pictures of the famous One Young World Flag laying Ceremony but nothing is like being there in person. As the flags approached us, there was a sense of excitement and awe. Some couldn't wait to take a picture with their flag and everyone was proud of the place they call 'home', but this would only be the beginning.
Walking in to the stadium behind our countries flags was overwhelming, especially when the first thing you see is a giant One Young World flag hanging in the stadium. Despite the jet lag that a lot of us felt, you couldn't help but feel emotional from the international unity. It was almost like this was the defining moment of why we all were here. As we took our seats, the sound of local South African music, horns and the cheers of thousands of local South African students filled the air. Locals were dancing and singing as their international friends joined along. Then came the "meat and potatoes" of the night. We heard from the founders, David and Kate as well as incredible key note speeches from One Young World Counsellors including the Seventh Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus and Sir Bob Geldof. The inspiration was beyond amazing.
It was clear that these "grown ups" really believed that young people can change the world. Their speeches were peppered with words that really set the tone for this Summit. There was a lot of talk of international collaboration as Kofi Annan encouraged us to "rediscover the common values that connect us all, around the world" while Sir Bob Geldof encouraged us to take part in transnational dialogue.
I could fill the page with all of the words I personally took away from the night but I'll leave it with something so simple, yet profound that I think provided a kick start for the week. As Muhammad Yunus excitingly gave his profound speech, he spoke about the possibility of destroying poverty, so much so that there will be museums created for those who will never have to know poverty and then he simply exclaimed: "if you imagine it, it will happen."
At One Young World we are encouraged to not only imagine, but to do something with that imagination. What a wonderful start to the Summit.