YAP 2017, AEUB
A journey of discovery at Caux
By Ornella Nana, Young Ambassadors Programme 2017
Friday, 4. May 2018

A journey of discovery at Caux

By Ornella Nana
Ornella Nana, from Ireland, aged 22, took part in the Young Ambassadors Programme during Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business at the Caux Forum 2017.

When I applied for the Young Ambassadors Programme (YAP) I wasn’t sure what to expect. I imagined it would be like all the other youth gatherings I had been to – an opportunity to network and discuss important issues with other young people from around the world. But there was so much more to the YAP than trying to solve global challenges and making great contacts with other young people.

The distinctive thing for me was the deep connection with people whose stories I would never otherwise have heard. People were given the time and space to liberate their minds and tell their stories without the fear of being judged or misunderstood. We heard their side of the story, their personal experiences and how they felt.

This changed my perspective. It allowed me to see that, no matter how different our stories, backgrounds and experiences, we shared a stronger commonality –through brokenness, fear, disappointment, forgiveness, vulnerability or even success. These were all factors that united us as humans.

Understanding other people’s journeys gave me the courage to face mine with boldness and without fear of being wrong. It inspired me to stay true to who I am, and made me aware that I can create an impact at all levels and every stage of my life. I learned that, although our realities and understanding of life may be different, somewhere in our deepest consciousness, we all have this feeling of vulnerability. Out of that place of vulnerability we can also find our greatest strength.

Being in Caux was such a journey of discovery! You never knew who you would sit beside at breakfast, lunch or dinner. The vibe and atmosphere was so peaceful and friendly. You could engage in profound conversations with older people about their lifetime experiences or hear amazing stories from peers, who showed so much bravery in their work. More important, you could also encourage someone else through your story, or simply by being yourself.

One of the most amazing habits I cultivated in Caux was taking a quiet moment every morning to reflect on my day and my life and to be inspired by a new day in which all things are possible. The programme prepared me to be a leader and taught me that leadership and true impact start from within. I began to understand that every conversation I had was important, because it not only told me a story about that person, but also revealed who I was, where I stood and what I could change.

I realised that no matter how small I am, if I really start making positive changes in my life, that has the power to make an impact. If I want to see more people smiling, I can do that by smiling first. If I want to see more peace, I can start being peaceful in myself and with others around me. You cannot always change how situations turn out. But choosing to live your life at its best can impact more people than you can imagine.

I am grateful that there is a place in the world where people can come with curiosity to learn about themselves and other people, and discover peace from within.