Project Rwanda by JCI Canary Wharf Member
by Guest Blogger on November 17, 2013 22:31
My name is Tony Koutsoumbos and I am proud to be one of the first members of JCI Canary Wharf. Three weeks from now I, and three of my fellow debate trainers, will fly out to Rwanda to spend 10 days with 200 school children in Gashora Girls' Academy, just outside the capital of Kigali. Each child will be travelling far and wide from across the country to be with us and they will be coming for one reason - to learn how debating will change their lives.
One of the reasons I joined the JCI this year was my first-hand experience of its life-changing power. Right now, my other half, Alexandra Spencer, is volunteering in Brazil and preparing to embark on a new career upon her return, none of which would have happened without the JCI. Now, I would like to explain what my team and I are doing to give the same opportunity to 200 children in Rwanda, and how you can help.
It starts with the Central London Debating Society (CLDS), a voluntary organisation I founded four years ago, which now has over 1000 members and provides a platform for anyone who wants to speak their mind on issues they care about in a supportive environment. Last year, I decided I wanted to do more, so I quit my job and founded CLDS Debate Training and have since run training courses for charities, businesses, and schools, and staged public debates in the House of Commons.
Three months ago, I met Sam Baker, project manager of Idebate Rwanda, a charity that uses debating to improve the lives of young Rwandans. Sam explained that he had been following CLDS online for years and was so inspired he set up a network of debate clubs in over 30 schools across Rwanda. He asked me if I could put together a team to fly to Rwanda in December to deliver a national debate training programme that he and his colleagues were planning.
I didn't need to be asked twice.
A developing nation still emerging from the shadow of the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has progressed at a startling rate, this year becoming the first country in the world where women outnumber men in Parliament. Now, it aspires to become a medium wealth economy by 2020 as well. Sam and Idebate Rwanda see debating as the key to achieving this goal by teaching the leaders of tomorrow how to solve the most pressing problems in their communities today through critical thinking and open discourse.
The legacy of the programme will be managed by the local charity IDebate Rwanda, who will assist the students attending the camp to set up and run competitive debating clubs in their schools and universities. Planning for the camp is well under way: the Rwandan Ministry of Education has already granted us use of Gashora Girls Academy, and accommodation and living expenses for students attending the camp will be funded by the Goethe-Institut/Liaison Office Kigali.
How you can get involved
The one obstacle standing in our way is that Idebate Rwanda has not yet raised enough money to cover their costs and avoid charging students attending the camp. This is why we need your help: if we can raise £2500 by December, then attendance will be free, broadening the range of students who can attend.
We would therefore be extremely grateful if you can spread the word about the camp, contribute to the project via our crowd-funding page, or attend our fundraising events throughout November. To raise awareness and funds for the camp we are partnering with the Rwandan Embassy in London, Morgan Stanley, Parliament Week, City of London School, and Regent's College to host four events in nine days from Tuesday 19th November to Thursday 28th November, details of which can be found here.
I would also be very grateful to sit down with any JCI members with experience of working in Africa and in particular, experience of marketing fundraisers, as this is very new territory to us and we need to make sure our events are a success. Finally, we are also interested in hearing from people with photography and video production skills who can advise us on how best to record our experience on a shoestring budget.
Help us keep Debate Camp Rwanda free so the youths of today can take their first bold step to being the leaders of tomorrow.
JCI members meet Her Majesty the Queen
by Guest Blogger on November 10, 2013 22:26
Blog written by Danielle Nanton
JCI Canary Wharf Member
On the 18th October 2013, JCI members Hiwot Wolde-Senbet and I were invited to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace on Youth, the Commonwealth and Education. This once in a life-time opportunity was made possible through the coordination and hard work of individuals volunteering with JCI and Hiwot and I are truly thankful for this amazing experience.
Once inside the gates and passed the inner courtyard of Buckingham Palace, we entered the doors and were greeted by the porters who showed us to the cloak room. All electronic and recording devises as well as bags and jackets were left in the cloak room and then we made our way into the reception area. Fascinating people from all around the Commonwealth were met, including many Commonwealth Scholarship Recipients and Commonwealth University Leaders. We did not forget our JCI-taught networking skills and connections were made with some very interesting people.
After a preliminary champagne reception as well as mingling and meeting other delegates, we all joined a cue and were ushered to meet the Queen. We presented our announcement cards and a formally dressed gentleman introduced us delegate-by-delegate; where we were given the opportunity to curtsy and shake the Queen's, and the Duke of Edinburgh's hand. For me, as an individual brought up in Canada, a part of the Commonwealth, who had taken part in Youth Parliaments and studied Political Science at University, the political significance of this moment was mind-blowing.
After our formal introduction to the Queen we were taken to a larger theater and classical music and children's choir entertained the delegates and royals for about an hour. We were then ushered back into the reception area where we dined on freshly made duck h'ordeurves, quail's eggs and celery salt, green pea pannacotta bites, quiches, and chocolates all made by the palace chefs. We were also able to speak directly with the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Gloucestershire as well as one of the Lady's in Waiting. All were incredibly personable and interested in JCI.
This day was a day to remember, and without being involved in JCI neither of us would have had this amazing opportunity. We would really like to thank JCI for allowing us this chance and encourage that others get involved in JCI.
60 second interview: Meet Lina Derkeshli from JCI London
by Sofie Sandell on September 28, 2013 17:19
Can you tell me about your background and your profession?
I am a global citizen, I lived and worked in three continents, Asia, Europe and America. I started my career in Marketing and Advertising then moved to banking after few years. I worked for prominent organization such as JPMorgan and Citi, while I studied for my MBA at Argosy University. Later I took few contracts in EMEA working in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Norway, before I moved to the UK.
When you lived in Syria and were involved in JCI, what did you do there?
I am originally from Damascus Syria; in 2006 I returned to work in the Levant region and that is when I got introduced to JCI. I was fascinated by this young organization that has a lot to offer covering 4 development opportunities, business, individual, community and international. Each one of these area was useful and much needed in a beautiful developing country like Syria to empower it youth and educate it communities about NGO. I participated in many local projects with JCI Damascus. In 2008, I led and implemented a national programme to certify 50 new trainers by inviting international CNT and CLT trainers to facilitate JCI Presenter and JCI Trainer. I also severed that year on the national board as Financial Director. In 2009 I served as the National VP for Individual and Membership Development and established the National Academy for training and personal development.
How has JCI Syria been progressing over the last couple of years?
Due to the current in situation in Syria there are lots of limitations in terms planning and executing projects. However and regardless of all the obstacles, JCI Syria is still an active organization with national and local boards.
Which is your best JCI experience?
Every JCI experience is very special and my best experience is my first international participation travelling to Norway to attend the Viking weekend. I learned that JCI is not only amazing as a local leadership incubator but also an amazing international opportunity to meet people and learn about cultures. It was eight of us and they are all still my best friends.
If you could travel to any country in the world where would you go? (no budget restriction)
I would like to visit China. I am very curious about west Asia and would love to learn more about this country in person.
What do you like about living in London?
It is a great melting pot where you meet people from all over the globe. I love all the variety of cultural experience you can get whether restaurants, theater, and museums. I like that London is an international hub and many of my friends and family
What is a good weekend for you?
Coffee in a nearby local coffee shop with my family and friends. I like also attending a musical or theater.
Who is the person who influenced you the most, and how? How would you describe her?
My younger sister Alia. Alia is an inspiring leader, intelligent and great speaker. I admire her resiliency and determination that got her very far. She is very kind with exceptional EQ and communication skills.
What can JCI do for you? Do you need help with anything such as connections, developing ideas?
JCI is a great way to give back, learn and grow in a safe environment, and friends for life from across the globe. I would like to take more advantage of JCI networking events.
Membership Impact Week 2013 Day 6 - Meet James from Cambridge and Michael from Southampton
by Sarah Beckwith on September 21, 2013 14:46
It's two for the price of one on Day 6 of Membership Impact Week as we get to know two members who have taken on what is said to be the most challenging and rewarding role within JCI - that of local president.
James Mitchell leads JCI Cambridge:
Tell us about a typical day in the life of a local chamber president
As President my role can vary a lot from one week to the next! Communicating with my Directors and helping them keep track of their events and projects, keeping in touch with all the members, being on the ground to meet with local businesses to maintain and obtain new sponsors of the organisation, taking part in volunteering projects, finding new trainers to wow our members and the hard life of attending the odd social to maybe taste some new Cocktails! This mix of roles and task suits me well as I get tired of routine very quickly!
What has been your proudest moment as president to date?
My proudest moment was finally getting our mentoring program off the ground. When I took over in January I told myself if everything else goes wrong this is the one program that couldn't fail! Following on from attending LEAP in 2012 I decided to take what I had learnt and provide a programme for Cambridge Businesses and JCI Members to understand and gain training about mentoring over a 6 week course which I designed with a brilliant trainer and mentor, Jeanette Harrison. We then matched all mentors with metees in a "speed dating" style session. The outcome was gaining new members, providing excellent training, starting to address the local council's 2020 goals and helping College leavers find employment, so I couldn't be more proud!
What have you learnt most of being President?
With everything there comes unexpected problems when you least expect them and being President you get your fair share of problems that need solving! What I learnt most is that JCI UK has an amazing National board and senators that have provided me with enormous amounts of help and support to help me run an awesome chamber and personally develop myself to be more aware of problems in advance and have the tools ready to tackle them!
Is there anything you have done as a JCI member that has benefitted your business?
We have 3 JCI members in the company and its a brilliant way for them to meet other business and other professionals in Cambridge and we have all attended the mental health first aid training which has been brilliant to reduce stress in the work place and have a strong understanding of mental health issues and how they develop. We also use the volunteering events to work together and improve teamwork and help with local promotion of the business.
How would you describe JCI to someone who has never heard of it before?
An amazing organisation for people in their 20's and 30's that holds business, social, training, community and international events throughout the year, its THE place to meet people that are really looking to make a difference!
Michael Steel is this year's president of JCI Southampton:
Tell us about a typical day in the life of a local chamber president
As a Local President it's my job to develop & oversee the strategic and day-to-day management of my Local Chamber. Running my own business, I'm generally always in 'work mode' so talking to people about JCI Southampton often appears in every conversation. In my business I get to meet creative and positive young professionals who are looking for an employer to give them an opportunity - so recruiting them to JCI becomes my mission.
There usually isn't a day that I don't bump into a member or a council member in the centre of the city and grab a coffee.
What has been your proudest moment as president to date?
There is one moment that stands out firmly for me this year.
We work with a local Costa Coffee franchise, Premier Coffee, and they agreed to pay for six young apprentices who have progressed through our JCI Southampton Costa Academy to attend the JCI European Conference in Monte Carlo, Monaco. These apprentices were chosen by selection from peers and had the chance to go on this once of a lifetime all expenses paid trip. I remember seeing their faces as we boarded the helicopter from nice to Monte Carlo...it was amazing!
Has JCI presented any unusual or unexpected opportunities?
It's all about international for me! I absolutely love travelling to different countries and visiting other JCI chambers. With JCI New York, JCI Stockholm and JCI European conference under my belt this year...I'm so excited to be attending the World Congress in Rio this November. I'm really looking forward to entering the debating competition on the world stage for the UK too. I'd never done debating before I joined JCI and now I try and enter everything involving debating I can!
Is there anything you have done as a JCI member that has benefited your career?
Well there are lot's of things in terms of public speaking and debating etc. This will be a great question for me to answer next year...as recently I've joined an international College which delivers British qualifications around the world. With JCI's international opportunities....I hope to network and make contacts that will enable me to grow the college and develop myself further.
Canary Wharf is the chosen location for a new potential JCI group: JCI Canary Wharf
by Guest Blogger on September 20, 2013 09:02
Blog written by Danielle Nanton (JCI Canary Wharf Member)
"Canary Wharf is the chosen location for a new potential JCI group: JCI Canary Wharf. Along with its' image of fast-paced success and international organisations, Canary Wharf is currently in the process of starting to host events related to this newest addition to JCI.
Thus far a few meetings have been held to promote and organize the fledgling JCI group. The first meeting was held in a private meeting room of the Ledger Bar, senior members of JCI London were there to speak about the organisation, free drinks were had and networking took place.
JCI Canary Wharf has also had a strategy meeting, which was organised to help to build the JCI Canary Wharf brand. Many interesting ideas were shared such as organisations to contact, blogs to write and a new meetup group to be created on Meetup.com. This meeting took place in a local bar in Canary Wharf where we were allowed to make use of an area of the bar which had been sectioned off from the crowds. Current members of JCI London attended and also friends and contacts who work in the Canary Wharf area.
Another meeting which has been held includes a community and social brainstorming event. This event took place in the head office of Barclay's in Canary Wharf and many exciting potential projects and events were discussed such as involvement with hampers for food banks, training sessions and networking events.
I myself have been involved with JCI London and while I have been pursuing my active membership I have had the opportunity to attend an interview with Cath Kidson, classes on debating and public speaking, as well as learn about Nothing but Nets, an initiative which brings mosquito nets to communities suffering from malaria. I have also become involved with TedxSquaremile which is affiliated with the well-known Ted Talks and through this I have obtained free business cards, attended two business launch events at private members clubs, events at Google Campus London, the General Assembly as well as the London Chamber of Commerce. Without being involved with JCI, for me, none of this would have been possible!
I would recommend becoming a member of JCI to anyone as you can develop skills that you never thought you would have and further develop any skills that you might already have. As well, I would recommend becoming a member of JCI Canary Wharf as you can be a part of something new and help to shape and develop this exciting new group. I look forward to transferring my membership from JCI London to JCI Canary Wharf."
Membership Impact Week 2013 Day 5 - Meet Kate from National Board
by Sarah Beckwith on September 20, 2013 00:01
On Day 5 of membership impact week we're talking to the lovely Kate Senter, who is gonig to tell us all about national board and what it's like to be a part of the team:
Can you explain a bit about what national board is and does?
The JCI UK National Board has many objectives when it comes to what we deliver. Ultimately, we are in place to support and strengthen existing and potential chambers. We are on hand to provide advice, marketing support, coordinate national projects, manage national training activities and much more!
Our National President is the voice for all of our UK members on the international stage - this is vitally important when it comes to considering policies that might impact on how we run our organisations locally.
What is your role on national board?
This year I am the JCI UK Deputy National President. This role is all about supporting our National President in ensuring that the organisation is well run. Equally, I have been working with the local Deputy Presidents - primarily helping to foster a sense of camaraderie and collaboration.
What made you take on this particular role?
I joined JCI in 2008 and got involved from the word go! I held various roles locally and following a year as local president for JCI Sheffield, I took the step up to the national board. I decided to take on this role specifically as I am so passionate about the organisation. As a group of individuals, we come together and make a positive impact in our society - be it through community projects, personal development or building business connections and collaboration. JCI is an organisation that has changed my life and those of many of the members that I know! I have been able to build new skills, gain new experiences, travel the world and make some amazing friends for life - everyone should have these opportunities!
How is the year going?
AMAZING! Where to start? From winning the Queen's Award to seeing our members hauling in sacks of thousands of bras...our members have achieved some amazing things and we still have some way to go to the end of the year! My personal highlight....possibly meeting Prince Albert of Monaco (a Senator of JCI) at his palace during a VIP reception at the JCI European Conference in June!
What are you looking forward to in the last quarter of the year?
Crumbs....there is so much going on! We're heading into the annual dinner season where many of our chambers will be celebrating the last 12 months so that will be great! We also have the national convention coming up in Leeds in November and that promises to be such an amazing event, held at the beautiful Oulton Hall! I can't wait!
Membership Impact Week 2013 Day 4 - Meet Fiona from JCI Sheffield
by Sarah Beckwith on September 19, 2013 19:31
Today Fiona Silvester from JCI Sheffield is telling us all about what it's like to be a member of a local council team.
What is your role this year?
This year I've taken on the role as membership director for JCI Sheffield
What made you take on this particular role?
I was keen to take a position on the council this year to engage more with JCI and expand my existing skillset. I thought what role would I best be suited to for a while before making a decision. I'm a little (read a lot) obsessed with neatness, organisation, time management etc. I'm also extremely enthusiastic about JCI and the benefits of joining JCI so quickly realised that membership director was the role for me.
Tell us what it's like to be on a local chamber's council team.
I'm not going to lie there's a fair amount of work involved with being on a local chamber council, it's also a LOT fun and very rewarding. It's a great way to improve your team building skills as well as lots of other areas. Being on the council team this year has definitely given me a better understanding of JCI's mission as well as the difference we can make in our own community. I've met loads of great people and leaders in the City that have helped us immensely and this wouldn't have been possible with JCI. The successes of everyone else on the team feel like your successes too as you learn to support each other and work together. It's not just the council team members either, every member is there to support you and help you make a success of your role and ensure the future of the chamber.
What do you enjoy most about being on the council?
There's so many things to choose from. I love when the membership email comes through each month and I can see the difference my role has made to our membership number. I also love seeing new members becoming more involved with JCI and seeing the benefits.
What do you consider to be the main benefits of JCI membership?
There are so many different benefits depending on what you want to get out of JCI. The overall benefit has to be the way you develop personally. There are so many things you can gain to develop yourself through JCI. This range from confidence to public speaking to volunteering. In a nutshell there's something for everyone.
Membership Impact Week 2013 Day 3 - Meet Matt from JCI London
by Sarah Beckwith on September 18, 2013 09:21
It's Day 3 of Membership Impact Week and we're talking to Matt Beavan from JCI London who has been a member for a year.
How have you enjoyed your first year of membership?
The first year of my membership has been a lot more involved than I thought it would be. I initially joined JCI in order to attend some training events in the evening, I have since become involved in a project team as part of TEDX and moved on to becoming training director. As a result I have made friends and become involved in some very interesting projects. JCI is quite addictive.
What has been your highlight so far?
The highlight for me was working with AIESEC as part of the London Youth Conference at the start of the year. This was a two day conference that was put on to show young people how to 'redefine success' with talks, mentoring and group activities. It was great to have two different organizations work together to create a conference that benefited young people. It was a really good start to the year.
Is there anything you have done as a JCI member that you never would have thought possible before you joined?
Sit on council. This was a long way from my mind when I first joined!
What are you hoping to do in your second year of membership?
Something different - The beauty of JCI is that there is always something different to do. i think that knowledge of what JCI is about and what it has done is something that you become aware of after having spent a while in the organization. Knowing more about this should hopefully mean that my second year of membership will be less effort but more results.
What advice would you give to those considering joining JCI?
JCI is what you want to make of it, becoming active does require effort and at some points does feel like hard work, but as a result of this you can create positive social change through empowering yourself. Talk to as many people as possible in the organisation almost everyone has something to say that you haven't considered before.
Membership Impact Week 2013 Day 2 - Meet Cat from JCI Leeds
by Sarah Beckwith on September 17, 2013 08:20
Cat Simpson from JCI Leeds has been a member of JCI for around 6 months. Here's what she thinks about her JCI experience so far:
Why did you join JCI?
I set up my own business and was looking for an outlet to get to know new people in Leeds professionally but more importantly personably. My Dad was a JCI member (many moons ago) and encouraged me to join to meet motivated and interesting people in a forum that enables personal development and awareness about the part you can play within your community. I'm glad I listened to him.
What is the most interesting event you have been to so far and why?
I have really enjoyed the organised events in Leeds where successful business people volunteer their time to come and share experiences and ideas with the chamber. In August, we had talks by a local entrepreneur and MP, this was a great event and opened up a lot of questions and conversation between the group and the speakers. Something I would not have had access too if I hadn't known about JCI.
What have you learned/what skills have you developed since you joined?
I have begun helping with part of the social media marketing for JCI Leeds. This is something I volunteered to help with and is a good way to start contributing to the group in a gradual manner. The skills I'm learning whilst doing this filter through into my own business, which for me is a bonus.
What do you enjoy most about being a JCI member?
Meeting lots of interesting people from many occupations. The diversity in JCI Leeds is great, everyone is very welcoming and you get to know people that you may not have generally met in your own day-to-day routine.
Can you give some top tips to new members?
Be open minded about what you would like to achieve within JCI as the opportunities available span many areas of interest. Also, attend as many local JCI events as you can, it's a good way to really get to know other members and build friendships.
Membership Impact Week 2013 Day 1 - Meet Luke from JCI Portsmouth
by Sarah Beckwith on September 16, 2013 07:26
This week we are celebrating all things membership in JCI and will be meeting some of our members from chambers around the country. To start us off we meet Luke Gallagher, a new member from JCI Portsmouth.
How did you hear about JCI?
I heard about JCI through a former housemate, who was starting out herself at the Portsmouth chamber. She recommended it as something I would be interested in, so I gave it a go.
What persuaded you to join?
The warmth given to me by the members. They were very friendly and open to me. Also my first event was a useful training seminar on self confidence and I saw first hand how the training events can be extremely useful.
What was your first event?
As mentioned before, by first event was a training event on Self confidence and awareness
What was your first impression and has that changed since?
My first impression was that this chamber was one of a friendly and happy group, with a great group of people with a determination and drives to provide great events and make a difference in the community. This opinion has not changed.
What are you looking forward to in your first year of membership?
To expand the chamber and all the exciting and wonderful events that the chamber have planned. The national event in Leeds will be a fantastic event to go to also.