Washington D.C. ended with bang, a “culture night” in the hotel ballroom. Divided by country of origin, each group presented a dance to showcase their culture. In short, no one was exempt and it was a blast. For a moment, the worry presented by the looming SDGs was lost to dance and merriment. The delegates came together as relationships strengthened, solidifying the us as a unit and accepting any future challenge. This night was perhaps the night that truly encapsulated the meaning of IYLA. Different people dancing together as one. One force ready to tackle the world’s problems, regardless of size. Celebration of human nature. Start with connections, cultivate positivity, apply it to your daily life. Express yourself. Express your culture. Take pride in your past, look to the future.
SDG number 10 proposed by the UN: Reduced inequalities. Nothing could have been more prevalent on that night. In a way, by displaying just how different we were brought us closer together. Language barriers remained, but understanding grew. If we were to fix the world, we’d have to start small, as we did that night.
That left 16 other SDGs. A whole world immersed in conflict. Fixations of war. Dirty water. Underdeveloped infrastructure. A lack of innovation. All could be corrected, but it would take the unbridled determination of people who truly want to fix it. It would take a plan, not just a vision. We’d need to spread awareness, but be able to follow through. Action is required. Money is required.
The next portion of IYLA took place in Philadelphia and was ready to cover just that: money. Upcoming discussions at the University of Pennsylvania tackled themes of entrepreneurship. This was when the ideas began to slip into the hypothetical, moving away from the SDGs and more into the arbitrarily situational. Attacking issues from a business standpoint, speakers encouraged taking financial risks in the hopes of turning a profit, which is what entrepreneurship is at its core. While awareness was made, we spent more time touring the campus and the Liberty Bell Center than discussing action. The workshop we attended at the Wharton Business School had us identifying random marketable ideas and coming up with multiple business plans, plans with unattainable funding. The entire scheme wasn’t necessarily true or real and the specifics of the proposed ventures and even the ventures themselves have be driven from my mind with time.
We were in the city for under a day. Leaving in the late afternoon, we continued to a hotel in New Jersey to begin our New York portion of the trip the following day.