Our next board meeting and activity was held in Singapore. Unfortunately not all of the board could attend. One had visa issues and another sadly passed away. We were all shocked to hear of Benjamin Bekoe’s sudden death. The news upset us all and so we were faced with trying to replace him at short notice or moving forward and honouring his legacy. We chose the latter. It was a difficult moment but we managed to get through in our small group of five. By this stage we were all starting to feel comfortable with each other having met previously. Our meetings coincided with the Asian Youth Camp which was attended by many people from the region.
At our previous meeting we had set a number of aims for our work and so this is where we began our Singapore meeting. We again carried on discussion of issues from the previous meeting and unpacked a range of other topics and challenges related to leadership, the YOM’s and preparations for the junior youth camp in Australia the following year (2017). This was a big item for discussion as a number of key activities needed planning such as the program, who to enlist for support and liaising with the Camp Organising Committee in Australia. I became the main point of contact for the WFDYS to ensure effective communication at all times. I distributed updates and information to regional youth secretaries and provided advice on how to share relevant information. At the same as our meetings the Asia Youth Camp was in full swing so it was a really busy time, meeting with those participants and running activities. It was interesting to see how the camp was run in a very different way to that of the WFDYS events. I think this came down to cultural, personnel, activities and styles differences.
The weather in Singapore is really hot and humid. You can’t escape it. We arranged our group to take a tour around Singapore and we visited the Marina Bay Sands building, Chinatown and a number of other places I had been to before but it was good to visit in our group. We used public transport most of the time and I could not believe the level of cleanliness of the train system. The interior was spotless. The laws around littering are strictly enforced and fines are heavy. It is remarkable how clean the city is.
An intense few days with long hours meant I was exhausted. I surely had bags under my eyes. On top of this I was given the task of presenting and video recording the board report. I’m sure it took me about 30 tries to get it right.
Following on from the WFDYS meeting the WFD held a three-day conference for the Asia region. Amongst a range of topics the theme was sign language rights. This coincided with the Asia Youth General Assembly. People were nominated and elected to form a new board. This provided the groups a chance to discuss their partnerships and steps for working together over the coming four years. The WFD conference was really engaging. I met a number of new people and used the opportunity to network to support and advocate for youth in Asian regions through the establishment of youth groups and activities. This is important for carrying the work forward.
So, the Singapore series of events was a great chance to gather information, meet new people, discuss ideas and work on new projects. In addition, I am the WFDYS liaison for the Asia region so I managed to gather new information and meet relevant people to help progress my work and coordinate with the new board of the Asia youth regional secretariat through sharing information and collaboration.
Overall, I really enjoyed and valued the experience of combing a range of WFD and WFDYS activities in one place. The only disheartening moment was the news of Benjamin’s death but we know his memory will carry on.