News — August 28, 2018

2018 JCI European Conference: A First Timer’s Perspective

By Magdalena Riedel, Membership Growth and Development Manager for Europe

Two months have already passed since the 2018 European Conference hosted Riga, Latvia, but the impact the conference has had on me is still present. As a new member to the JCI World Headquarters team, I did not really quite know what to expect. I travelled to Riga to meet my new colleagues and to meet with young active citizens from all over Europe and the world to dive deep into the JCI world. Latvia’s beautiful capital welcomed me with unusually warm and sunny weather, considering its geographic location in the North of Europe.

During my first day, I realized that this was not the type of conference I was used to attending. Not only because of the sheer amount of people — around 1,300 delegates were buzzing around the conference venue — but what amazed me the most was the spirit of the conference. Even though the conference had many participants, the atmosphere still felt cozy and familiar. This feeling gave me the impression that JCI members have a connection similar to one big family. As a new member to this community, I was met by welcoming, open-minded and friendly people.

Although the nights were rather short due to the Midsummer season, JCI delegates kept busy with numerous networking events and parties in the evenings. Connecting members from different cultures, sharing food and drinks from different European countries and exchanging experiences and ideas on sustainable development for our region. However, sleep deprivation did not stop the motivation and dedication JCI delegates showed during workshops and sessions.

One of my personal highlights was the JCI Morning Show because it engaged the attendants to learn more about the Global Goals for Sustainable Development including the priority goals for Europe: Global Goal 4: Quality Education; Global Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth; and Global Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. During the Global Goals Game Show, participants had the chance to test their knowledge on the progress of the Global Goals for a chance to win cool prizes. Other highlights from the Morning Show were hearing from JCI Secretary General, Arrey Obenson, who gave a motivational speech “waking up” the Morning Show participants by singing and dancing together. JCI India also gave a presentation about the 2018 JCI World Congress in Goa, India by entering the stage while playing instruments and singing their theme song to spread positive vibes and boost anticipation for the upcoming World Congress taking place 30 October to 3 November 3.

Whenever I had the free time during the conference, I took the opportunity to slip into workshops and sessions. As a newbie to this organization, a very interesting and useful experience for me was attending the Strategic Planning Workshop where JCI Immediate Past President Dawn Hetzel discussed with participants how we will accelerate our transformation to advance the strategic development of the organization in the framework of the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan.

Overall, my first JCI Event turned out to be a wonderful experience! The number of inspiring speeches, great presentations and interesting exchanges with fascinating people while working alongside my JCI colleagues motivated me and definitely outweighed the hard work and little sleep we all experienced. I was amazed by the commitment and effort of young active citizens to develop themselves while making a positive impact in their communities. I’m excited to see more of this spirit at the next European Conference in Lyon, France as well as during the upcoming JCI World Congress in Goa, India.

Make sure you register for this year’s World Congress for an unforgettable experience to connect and learn from young active citizens around the world, all working to advance the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. 

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