Social Responsibility Interns Reflect on the 2018 Concordia Americas Summit Experience in Colombia
New York, July 25 2018.
Livia, Summer 2018 Libra Social Responsibility Intern, Concordia:
Six weeks into the Libra Internship Program on a Friday, I awoke to the sound of an alarm at three in the morning – I had a plane to catch to Bogotá, Colombia. The past few weeks had been a whirlwind of meticulous preparation for the Concordia Americas Summit with a team to which I was brand new.
The two-day Summit took place July 16-17 in Bogotá and featured a distinguished set of high-level speakers, from presidents and senators to renowned chefs and doctors. The Concordia Americas Summit was unique in that it was the only global forum to engage both the outgoing and incoming presidential administrations of Colombia – a fact I had read and written many times over the weeks leading up to the Summit, but I truly realized its excitement and importance as I saw it happen before my eyes.
I was fortunate enough to experience keynote addresses by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Colombian President-elect Iván Duque, and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and to witness conversations between decision-makers and influential experts on Latin America’s most pressing challenges. The dialogues that took place focused on the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis, the narcotics issue within the region, healthcare improvement in Colombia, digital technology in the region and the future of the Americas. There were two sessions that resonated with me the most: a strategic dialogue on the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis and Chef Juan Manuel Barrientos’ panel on his ElCielo Foundation, an initiative that provides former paramilitaries, wounded soldiers and ex-guerrillas with a training program to work at his restaurants and get a new chance in life. These are subjects we hear about on the news or learn about in school but facing people who are seeing atrocities firsthand in Latin America or hearing personal stories of ex-guerrillas is a learning experience like no other. Attending the Summit made me realize that Concordia’s work in this region is a stepping stone to progress and incredibly significant.
I was in Bogotá with the Concordia team for five days; however, the impact I feel that we made on the region made our time there feel much longer. Our hashtag #Concordia18 trended number one in Colombia during the Summit, which verified that our work was not only significant but also recognized.
Daniel, Summer 2018 Libra Social Responsibility Intern, Concordia:
Running on little sleep and several cups of coffee, I hopped on a flight to Bogotá, Colombia. I had my assignments for the Concordia Americas Summit and felt ecstatic but also quite nervous. As my first major event and first off-campus internship, I did not know what to expect.
Leading up to the Summit, I worked hard but also enjoyed my time getting to know the capital since it was my first visit to Colombia. Despite the long hours and heightened cortisol levels, I felt energized. I was an intern in another country making an impact, and I was learning firsthand from some of the most graceful and talented professionals I know.
Once the event concluded, I stepped back on the plane a little sad to leave. Despite having a few very stressful moments, I had some of the best moments. Exploring Bogotá, meeting amazing people in Colombia driven by social impact work, hearing from former U.S. Vice President Biden, sitting only a meter some of the world’s most influential former policymakers and private sector representatives and learning to adapt to the situations presented to me were all invaluable experiences. Whether it was as small as printing a name tag or as important as escorting a former head of state to the table last minute, I felt I was contributing to the overall success of the event and was able to see how policy solutions unfold on refugee crises, the future of universal healthcare, the power of restorative justice in making peace after conflicts and so much more.
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