The International Youth Leadership Conference, a weeklong forum on world politics, international relations, law, media, business and global economy, has a lot to offer for students. Started in 2000 in Prague, the IYLC now draws on average 100 university students from over 35 countries across the globe biannually. Since its inception, the conference has touched the lives of nearly 2200 participants from a total of 133 countries and is considered by them an unparalleled learning experience. This year, it will be held in Prague from 22nd July to 27th July.So, what is this conference all about?
The theme of the conference is a "cross-cultural exchange of young ideas concerning the future of world leadership." The organization, which is hosting the conference, Civic Concepts International, believes in the learning method of direct, hands-on experience. With regards to Indian Students, by participating in simulations that recreate a United Nations Security Council crisis meeting, an International Criminal Court hearing, and a model European Parliament session, students begin to understand international relations and relationships through practice as opposed to theory (as taught in their university curriculum). Their interaction provokes communication and dialogue, a system not normally encouraged in India.
StudentStory.in got in touch with Bharat Itagi, a 3rd Year student of law at University College of Law Dharwad, Karnataka to know more about the IYLC. Bharat is one enthusiastic young student who has been selected for the IYLC this year and here is what he had to say:
1. How did you get to know about it and how challenging is the selection procedure?
I was participating in the 1st International Youth Forum held in New Delhi and it is there that I met an interactive person who looked intuitive and troubled him with my views and the questions that we youth face regardless of geographical boundaries. That gentleman asked me to send my paper on the very topic that we had the conversation to an email address. Little did I know that that gentleman was none other than Mr. William Webster (the executive director of CCI). On the passage of few days, I received a request from IYLC to fill in the application form even though the deadline was over. I had to write two essays. One on the United Nations Global Impact and the other one assuming if I was the head of the Nation, what changes would I like to bring in my Nation? Followed by essays were the rounds of phone interview, which were elaborative where questions on International Relations were asked. After 2 days since I filled in the form, I received a reply from IYLC that I have been selected.
2. How important is this opportunity for you and what value do you think it will add to your academic/student life?
This is a once in a life time opportunity. The exposure to develop leadership skills at an international level is very important to me as a person. It will definitely add to my student life. I wish to be a leader to bring about the change, especially with regards to youth because I know that the task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already. It is needless to elaborate the importance and lacunae that we as youth face in the ever emerging, double-edged competitive and dynamic world that we are placed in. The cliché of old wine in a new bottle needs to be “new minds with fresh ideas”.
3. What is the preparation that goes into this conference and what are the shortcomings you are currently facing?
It is a pre - requisite that one who attends the conference must know the proceedings of UNSC, ICC and all other simulations, which will be held. I have also been researching extensively on the theme of the conference in terms of my academic preparation. The reason of my research is every one of us is aware of the puzzle and none of us are able to dissect it threadbare and find solutions at the grassroots level. When the efforts of participation by the youth in civic issues is not acknowledged, when the ideas expressed by youth is looked down upon for want of experience, when youth are typically stereotyped to be “just college students”, lack of interest and hatred by the youth is bound to be noticed. My participation will be on this line of view.
Coming from the remote corner of the country with exposure limited by resources, challenges are bound to be there. However, in this case it was even more challenging as the invitation mandated sponsorship as one of the requisites of participation. I sent requisition for sponsorship to various organizations that I felt might be interested. One of my friends suggested that the local representative at the legislature (MLA) is one of the youngest MLAs that Karnataka has ever had and he is extremely supportive of causes for youth. I must confess that on the very call to secure appointment to meet him, he congratulated me and assured me of financial support to aid my one way travel to Prague. This means I will have to fund the other way travel by myself.
Added to this, the fee for attending the conference is 33,000 CZK (around Rs. 81,000), however I have been awarded scholarship of 20% discount on the merit of my essays. This is given only to 10 participants out of 100. This means I would need another company/person to sponsor me so as to confirm my participation in the conference. But a constraint before me is time. I have very little time left.
With only 3 days left before he leaves for Prague, Bharat still needs 50% of the conference fee, which amounts to about INR 33000. With all adherent hope that someone will come forward to sponsor him, Bharat strongly wishes that he can make it to the conference and is looking for anyone willing to contribute any amount. If interested you can reach out to him at email@example.com