January 14, 2016
1,300 young people from around the world gathered in Bangkok, Thailand, in November for the 2015 One Young World Summit, a conference to debate, formulate and share innovative solutions for pressing issues the world faces today. Two of the people in attendance were Texas Tech University’s Saba Nafees and Caleb Fisher.
Representing the university, Nafees and Fisher were two of 130 delegates from the United States to attend the annual summit. It was Nafees’ second year to attend and Fisher’s first.
“Growing up in West Texas, I haven’t been as well-traveled as far as understanding the different cultures, belief systems, how different countries and cultures functions and how they are each working toward similar goals,” Fisher said. “It was really cool to be taken from Texas – I think I was the only person born and raised in Texas – and learn from more than 1,200 leaders from 196 different countries.”
At the summit, Nafees and Fisher discussed with many other young leaders from around the world issues such as climate change, human trafficking, terrorism and poverty.
Counselors, such as CEO’s, star soccer players, musicians, activists, Nobel Peace Prize winners, philanthropists and many other well-known people from around the world, led individual sessions with groups of young ambassadors and delegates to discuss issues in the world today and ways to overcome them.
“When I attended last year, it was an amazing, life-changing experience,” said Nafees, graduate vice president for Texas Tech’s Student Government Association and One Young World Ambassador. “I promised myself last year I would go again as an ambassador but would take someone else with me from Texas Tech, someone that had the open mind and the open heart to learn more about the world and the world’s issues and do something about them. So, I asked Caleb to go.”
Fisher, external vice president for Texas Tech’s Student Government Association, said he learned a lot from the summit and grew as a person.
“It gave me a better understanding about how the world functions,” he said. “The summit gave me a different lens to look through when trying to understand what goes on in the world and the people from other countries. Being at the conference in downtown Bangkok was a really neat experience, but just being in Asia was humbling in and of itself.”
One of the people who made a huge impact on him and Nafees was a young woman named Yeon-mi Park who escaped from North Korea to China and was sold into human trafficking, but was able to escape to Mongolia and find freedom. Park spoke at the summit and has written a book about her life story called “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom.”
Nafees and Fisher said they would like to establish a program at Texas Tech to allow one or two students to go each year.
“After talking about One Young World with Caleb, we talked about trying to find a way for Texas Tech students to go,” Nafees said. “I think it’s important to be connected to a global forum such as this and help our fellow young people to gain a better global perspective about issues in the world today.
“The place that you have the highest density of young people who can make a difference is a college or university campus. After Caleb and I have left Texas Tech, we would like the university to continue to be represented at the summit and find the financial means to sponsor students to attend each year.”
After the conference ended, Nafees and Fisher stayed in Bangkok for a few days to enjoy the culture of Thailand, walk around the city, and for Nafees, see family members she hadn’t seen in 15 years.
Fisher enjoyed being immersed in the culture. He visited the temples, Bangkok’s floating market and even a tiger and elephant sanctuary where he bottle fed a young tiger and came in contact with a young elephant.
“It was such a great experience, just interacting with the Thai people,” Fisher said. “They were very sweet and had such an honor-based culture. They would always bow to you when they saw you and they just wanted to make your life perfectly pleasurable. I even got to the point where I was bowing to people out of habit just because I had been so immersed in it.”
Both Nafees and Fisher couldn’t speak more highly of the One Young World Summit and their time there. Both of them would like to attend the summit again if the chance were to arise.
“It was truly an amazing experience,” Fisher said. “Just to be able to take my beliefs, culture and ideas to 1,300 people, talk about issues and find ways to solve them in a civil manner was a humbling experience. One day these people will be leaders in their own countries, so if we can solve pressing issues on this level in a civil manner, just think of what we can do whenever we are older and making a difference in our countries and around the world.”