Ban Ki-Moon addresses youth symposium

The region’s youth have been told to make their voices heard and to dream big.

This advice came from the General Secretary of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon today as he spoke at a Youth Symposium at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, University of the Cave Hill Campus.

The event was held under the theme ‘Caribbean Youth Speak: The World We Want Post-2015’ and was attended by not only students of Barbados, but also those from UWI’s Mona and St Augustine campuses who logged in via video conference.

Also in attendance were recently installed Pro-vice Chancellor of UWI Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Minister of Education Ronald Jones and Principal of UWI’s Cave Hill Campus, Professor Eudine Barriteau.

Describing them as not only tomorrow’s leaders, but also the leaders of today, Ban urged them to stand up and let their voices be heard.

The UN Secretary General challenged the region’s youth to be champions of change.
The UN Secretary General challenged the region’s youth to be champions of change.

“You can play a very important role…but you have to work together…First raise your voice and challenge your present Prime Ministers, Ministers and even professors and business leaders. Tell them that this is your world and this is the place where you and your succeeding generation have to live and preserve this earth in a sustainable way.

“Secondly, remember you are more than just citizens of Barbados and of the Caribbean. Look beyond this area,” Ban explained.

The top UN official also encouraged them to have lofty expectations, while also cautioning them to ensure that these goals were realistic ones.

“We should all have big dreams. If you put your bar at 50 centimetres I think that you can cross over easily, but if you put your bar at one metre, you will have to train and exercise. There is no guarantee that your high dreams or high ideas will be met, but if you don’t run for Congressman or presidency, then you will never be elected as president or as a congressman,” Ban told them.

“If you never try to reach your dream you will never be able to achieve, therefore put your heads above the clouds and keep your feet firmly grounded.”

In her short address, visually challenged student Janeil Odle delivered a moving speech, which led Ban to give her a congratulatory handshake, as well as some encouraging words.

“I have been welcomed and introduced by hundreds of people from around the world, but this is the first time I have been introduced in such a moving way by Janice Odle who is physically challenged,” Ban acknowledged.

Ban Ki-Moon warmly greets visually impaired student Janeil Odle, after she delivered his official welcome to the Cave Hill Campus.
Ban Ki-Moon warmly greets visually impaired student Janeil Odle, after she delivered his official welcome to the Cave Hill Campus.

Ban also fielded several questions from students around the region, with most of them expressing concern about the high level of unemployment among youth.

Sir Hilary described the event as extraordinary and seminal, while saying it was an encouraging sign to see a global leader engaging the youth.

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