young people gather to discuss issues that affect them

young people gather to discuss issues that affect them


Jake Glaser talking about the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

nexus2 nexus3 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others….” Marianne Williamson.
This remains one of my best inspirational quotes of all time and at my lowest it is all I need to read then hope dispels my fear and I move forward.
The invitation by Atlas Corps to apply for the Nexus Global Youth Summit felt overwhelming and the application process itself seemed an uphill task. However, I went through with it and I was totally elated when I found out I had been successful and would travel to New York to attend the summit. More exciting was that I would see New York for the first time in my life….of course on a bus that had WIFI and plugs where I could charge my phone over the four hour journey!!!
I must say the information on the website about Nexus did not prepare me well for what I was to experience in New York. It was such an understatement and I was pleasantly surprised by how inspired I was throughout the whole program.
Opening night on Wednesday, July 23 brought me to tears as I listened to the few speakers that were lined up to talk. Co-founders, Rachel Cohen and Jonah Whittkamper were so down to earth you would not think they have contributed to changing the world in an immense manner.
The Co-founder and CEO of Akilah Institute for Women, Elizabeth Dearborn-Hughes’s desire to effect change saw her providing education to a marginalized group of women and has propelled them to rise above their limitations and ultimately change not only their lives, but their communities for the better. Her most inspiring words were, “Refuse to accept doubt around a vision,” after she went through upsets and disappointments during her journey to building the institute.
Geena Roccaro, founder of Gender Proud, Kosta Grammatis, CEO of A Human Right and Taylor Conroy, founder of Change Heroes summed up the evening with earth moving stories of their experiences – how they managed to write their own story through the lives they lived, the hurdles they stumbled upon and myths they had to demystify.
The one phrase that caught at me was, “You are exactly where you need to be.” I felt a burst of energy and felt moved when the following day, Thursday 24 July, saw me attending the first session of the Nexus Youth Summit at the United Nations Headquarters. Coupled with being my mother’s birthday, this was an extraordinary day and moment for me. Having grown up and lived in Zimbabwe all my life I only ever saw my head of state, President Mugabe, at the UN headquarters and being there myself gave me a sense of honour and great importance.
In the opening session one speaker alluded to the fact that “the United Nations had done more in talking about the youth and talking to the youth, but not listening to the youth. Young people have been seen as the passionate ones but the professional ones – they do not know how to do the job,” said Ahmad Alhendawi. From this statement came the notion “nothing for us without us,” and this explained the purpose of NEXUS and its relevance to young people.
There was a grueling story on Human Trafficking shared by Shandra Woworuntu, a survivor of trafficking. Lauren Bush Lauren, the founder and CEO of FEED talked about the need to ensure food and access to education for girls. Ben Rattray, the CEO of, inspired me when he said,“the best strategy is to start small…” while a young girl from India, Anya Dalmia, spoke extensively about their project on water harvesting in India.

I vividly remember a session in which Jake Glaser told his mother’s story, Elizabeth Glaser, the founder of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, who contracted HIV through blood transfusion. It was such an emotional story, yet inspiring because of the passion and drive that saw her dedicating her life to prevention of mother to child transmission. Her organization has grown from strength to strength, from a foundation of love, passion and personal experience.
The Nexus experience was next to none that I have ever experienced. Meeting young people from all over the world whose passion and drive have seen them change the world from their various spheres. Oprah Winfrey inspired me through this saying, “Follow your passion, it will lead you to your purpose.” We all have a passion, and ultimately a purpose on this earth. The time is always ripe to ‘Write your own story…’

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