The months of intense communication about and for the technical vocational education and training (TVET) Youth Forum seemed like preparation but there was truly nothing that could have prepared us for the eye-opening, breath-taking experience that was WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017. It began with those first initials steps off the plane and the dry heat hitting like a solid right hook to the face. The fear of burning was real but the relief of airport air-conditioning was a welcome distraction. Walking through this huge building filled with shiny new tech and pearly white floors, my eyes were automatically drawn to the other skills champions branded by their backpacks and hoodies. If anything, this was confirmation that I was moving in the right direction. As I progressed through the airport, I was continuously stopped by the view of huge electronic boards advertising the events of that weekend being hosted by WorldSkills Abu Dhabi.
Playing passenger in the luxurious private car was the first insight into the incredible generosity of our hosts. It surprised me how quiet the roads and general surroundings were. Each building was different and you could instantly see the resemblance or inspiration from popular structures seen around the world. Soon, we arrived at our home for the long weekend, New York University. It was not at all what we would describe as a university. It was more of a holiday resort surrounded by palm trees, modern architectures and pretty horizons. The daunting notion of an unknown roommate soon hit but fortunately, I got to share with an amazing girl from Algeria who would go on to be a great friend. We spoke and learned from each other throughout the whole event and continue to do so.
Abu Dhabi was hosting a Youth Forum where we, the young and great minds of the world had been given the responsibility of producing a youth declaration. This would then be shared worldwide with the hope of shaping the world for the better. Approximately three hundred of us from all over the world were put into groups identifying key aspects of world growth like innovation and the green economy. My particular group was innovation and we tackled issues such as the progression of technology and how that affects the types of jobs available or the skills set needed for a country to advance. The diversity of each group encouraged insightful and multi-cultural conversation. Young people from all different types of backgrounds using their own experiences to offer solutions to potential worldwide issues and guidance towards a more positive future for all.
The declaration produced was incredibly impressive and I’m so proud to have been part of that process. It includes the voices of the youth, their hopes for the future and the inevitable obstacles that we will overcome with a sense of global community. It was a platform that allowed international communication that would have otherwise been timid or hushed by the reality of distance. It was a heart-warming experience to be part of and truly shows the power of WorldSkills as well as the diverse thinking it promotes.