May 24, 2011 was when my life changed (Jarvwan bumroungruksa) . I rang my mother with such excitement telling her that not only had I found an ideal place that inspired me but that I felt I would always be inspired by it. It was the JCI London opening, where I was given a glimpse of what JCI was about.
That very day, I was so motivated and very eager to become part of the Jaycee family. So I signed up to my first international event – the JCI Global Partnership Summit, not knowing what to expect or who to meet, but just hoping for the best.
June 20, off I went to the Park Central New York Hotel, which was situated at the West end of the vibrant city of New York. It wasn’t my first time here, but it was the first time I was this excited. This time, I wasn’t here as a tourist but as a delegate to what I would call a gathering of the finest people around the world, people with passion who aim to make the world a better living place through active citizenship.
After registering on the Sunday, June 20, I was told to wait for the opening ceremony, which was about to take place around 5.30pm. So I went to Starbucks just around the corner. As I sat down, my nerves started to hit me. It hit me that I was in New York City, alone… whom was I going to talk to? I had no friends with me. To my surprise, a gentleman approached my table asking if I was a JCI and whether he could join me. “Of course”, I naturally answered. And so, my first friendship here was born. Jamie Lee was his name, and now I was not alone. I asked him if he would mind me tagging along with him and he welcomed me to his group of friends.
As the opening ceremony began, I was pleased to learn about the long remarkable history of JCI, and how it formed and rose from St Louis, MO, USA into a worldwide partnership, purely by the power of a small group of men who had dreams.
As Mr Kodama, JCI Secretary General, stated: “We need men who can dream of things that never were (JFK)… and ask ‘why not?'” That was what JCI peers were about.
The four days and three nights of the conference were intense. We early birds met at 7.30am for breakfast and a bit of a chit-chat prior to our interactive discussions, workshops and case study sessions. Our first sessions began each day between 8am and 9am and would continue intensively until 3pm or 4pm. Of course, we never did leave at exactly 4pm as there were so many interesting people to meet and so many things to do such as have drinks on the Monday 21 as hosted by JCI Philippines. It was at this point that I realized how much of an opportunity this conference had provided me to meet top class people without so much of a hassle of having to fly around the world to other countries to see them. The creams of the crop were all right here, all summoned to one place and I needed look no further.
Besides learning such things as how to advance UN MDGs goals, how to take action in local communities, how to adapt sustainability development in the work environment or do business that can help solve a society’s problem, what was hidden was the fire within each individual and the personal experiences they brought to the table. They were from all walks of life: business owners, lawyers, social workers, doctors etc.
The spirit of the Japanese people particularly impressed me. There were some 150+ Japanese delegates there, not including their translators. They managed to come to New York with such positivity of attitude despite the unimaginable difficulties they are presently going through in their country. It was a tragic moment when a slide presentation was shown of the devastation.
Instead of throwing our lunches away, we were asked if we would like to bring the food to the homeless shelter nearby – a thoughtful gesture to which many of us were more than happy to fulfill: it was reminder of such easy ways there can be to make small changes that most of us probably forget about.
Moreover, I got to meet other UK delegates, including Mr Mooraby, also known as Faisal from JCI Reading to whom I am very grateful. He introduced me to Toastmasters, an organization training public speaking skill through practice and feedback. We went to the Microsoft building, the hardest place to get into and, to my experience, to get out of. The organizer did not show up, but as a JCI and a great leader, Faisal took charge. We decided not to waste our time and organized our own session and it there he taught me how to be a better speaker.
I also met somebody I will callMr Bat. He asked where I was originally from and I explained I was from Thailand. His next question was whether I knew who the former Prime Minister of Thailand was. I said yes, of course. He then told me that he had been invited to join the inauguration ceremony of Thanksin’s sister. I might just make it clear here that Thailand’s Prime Minister’s election was not due to happen until August 3, and yet here I was on June 22 being told this: as you can imagine, I thought to myself how he could he possibly be sure who was made Prime Minister? Then Election Day arrived…as Mr Bat predicted, he was right -Thanksin’s sister did indeed win. It made me question our system of democracy. As a result, I decided to do a dissertation for my master’s degree on this topic.
The most unforgettable moment and quite personal of mine would be our last day going to the UN Headquarters. It was raining hard, but we didn’t care. It was a shame that the UN Secretary, Ban Ki-moon, was unavailable at the time. I didn’t know what to expect, but there were talks, speeches, scroll signing symbolizing our agreement to the resolution, and out of the blue, my name was called to the stage. I was in shock. The youngest JCI membership pin I received will always last long in my heart.
It took me 23 years to fly across the continent to finally find myself in the right place at the right time with like-minded people at JCI. The hospitality was amazing and it was an experience I will never forget. It was the best that I hoped for and the best is what I got.
Jaruwan Brmroungroksa (JCI London Marketing Team Member)
Categorised in: International
This post was written by makedo