July 6th, 2015 – Caricom Youth Ambassador Ms. Sonia Boddie was a part of a packed theatre of young people from across the region, who were privileged to participate in the Caribbean Youth Speak: The World We Want Post -2015 Symposium in Barbados, with United Nations Secretary General His Excellency, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. The Symposium which was organized by the University of the West Indies in collaboration with the United Nations System for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, was held on July 3rd at the Walcott Warner Theatre at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination at the UWI, Cave Hill Campus in Barbados.
The Symposium provided an opportunity for the UN Secretary General to address the youth and discuss important global issues which included Climate Change, Political Participation, Youth Unemployment, Gender-Based Violence, Non –Communicable Diseases and Crime and Violence. The Secretary General also fielded questions from the youth, who were all very delighted to dialogue with His Excellency.
Boddie noted that she was invited to participate in the Symposium in her capacity as Caricom Youth Ambassador. She remarked, “I was absolutely over the moon when I received the invitation and I felt very honored to have been invited to an event of this magnitude.” She further commented, “Having developed a keen interest in the area of diplomacy and international relations from the age of 18, I have always been very much interested in the work of the United Nations. Therefore, having had the opportunity to participate in a session with the present top global diplomat was truly a very humbling, life changing and inspirational experience for me and certainly puts the cherry on top of the cake for my experiences as a Caricom Youth Ambassador.”
According to Boddie, H.E. gave powerful words of advice, wisdom and encouragement to the young people gathered and those viewing online. Boddie noted that she was particularly moved by the UN Secretary General words, when he challenged young people to do three very important things,
“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. Have big dreams which are both practical and realistic. 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. 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.”
Boddie however remarked that she was disheartened to learn during His Excellency’s speech that there are currently “73 million youth unemployed” across the globe. She added, “I therefore agree with UN Secretary General’s comment that more partnerships must be forged between government and the private sector to provide jobs for the youth. But also I want to implore our young people to allow their creative juices to flow and to come up with innovative ideas, so that they can move from being job seekers to job creators, through entrepreneurship.”
Boddie concluded by highlighting that, “leaders should never be too busy to engage the youth as we are not the leaders of tomorrow, but we are leaders of today.” She continued to note that Mr. Ban’s presence at the event, despite his hectic schedule during his short visit to Barbados, to participate in the 36th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, was indicative of his words that indeed reaching out to young people is one of his top priorities.