On Thursday, October 28 I landed in Skopje, Macedonia. I had the honour of being in this fabulous city as the United Kingdom’s Lions Young Ambassador 2018. The Lions is an international non-political organisation founded in 1998 and has around 1.4 million members worldwide.
They perform such amazing work across the globe and help so many good causes. Their moto is ‘we serve’ and this resonates with every act the organisation performs.
The Europe Forum 2018 was held in Macedonia from 25 to 27 November.
I had previously attended and won the District Final and Multiple District Final hence I was privileged be part of the Lions Young Ambassadors 11th international final. Competing with me were young people from Italy, Germany, Belgium, Romania, Ireland and Macedonia. Each representative won the competition in their own country and had earnt their position in the final due to the amazing projects they are running, supporting and promoting.
The first day of the three-day competition was an information session for all the competitors, mentors and parents so we got to know each other and were informed of how the weekend would run.
The people I met were truly amazing and we all got to know each other very quickly. We shared stories and facts about our projects and home cultures.
We had time to look around the city too. The architecture was a strange but beautiful marriage between old and new. There were some breath-taking original structures, including the old bridge which is considered a symbol of Skopje and it is incorporated in the flag.
The new buildings were equally astounding and showed the modern side of the city. The location was an abstract but brilliant choice for the forum.
The Friday was when the work began for seven of the competitors. We each had an interview scheduled with three judges.
Each candidate had to produce a five-minute speech all about who we are and what we do. We were then intensely questioned about our project in the past, present and future.
This was hard and felt gruelling but was equally helpful to make us all think about the whys, what’s and how’s of every aspect of our project, in particular the future sustainability.
Saturday came and brought with it the results of the competition. But first each of us had to present a three-minute presentation to a room full of Lions from across the world. This was a brilliant opportunity to hear the other candidates and promote your own project.
Then we were all given feedback from the judges and the top three young ambassadors were announced.
Third place was the German candidate who runs an amazing project that helps poor and homeless children have a present to open at Christmas. Second place was me! I was shocked, amazed and pleased in equal amounts. I never thought that I would place after hearing all the other projects.
First place was the Irish candidate.
His win was truly deserved and I would not have hoped to come second to anyone else. He advocates for equality in education for all people no matter their needs.
He has fund raised an amazing amount to support the people in his local community, those who attend a special school in particular.
I had the most amazing time and met some friends for life. I am proud to have placed second and wish all the other candidates across the world the very best with their projects. The competition proves that young people can do anything when they put their minds to it.