★ An Intensive Month in the Life of a Local President! ★
Three weeks, five countries: From Southampton to London, London to Helsinki, Helsinki to Tallinn, Tallinn to Helsinki, Helsinki to Tampere, Tampere to Helsinki, Helsinki to London, London to Southampton, Southampton to Dover, Dover to Calais, Calais to Kortrijk, Kortrijk to Calais, Calais to Dover, Dover to Southampton, Southampton to London, London to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to London and London to Southampton.
JCI European Convention in Finland and Day visit in Estonia:
My journey started Saturday 11 June, early morning. Destination: Helsinki, for a pretour of Finland with my dear friend Katja before the European Convention! I couldn’t have wished for better place to stay with someone with such a big heart! Katja made my first days in Finland a memorable experience; as she said “You are building memories that you will tell your grand-children”. The first night was a success: sky bar, city walk, karaoke duet with strangers, a girl squad for bodyguard…so this is Finland and I’m loving it! I still don’t get the whole daylight situation though, you wake up in the middle of the night and it seems like it’s 4:00pm.
A few members from Scotland arrived early too so I had the chance to join Leslie and Jasmin for a day trip to Tallinn in Estonia after a pleasant afternoon in Suomelinna watching a military band play.
Time flies when you are in good company and I had to get ready to leave Espoo (near Helsinki) on the Tuesday. I headed straight to Tampere, sorted out my registration for the EC, checked in…. now let’s wait for everyone to arrive and do some work.
Because JCI means challenge, this year (following a suggestion from my JCI Mentor Ben Hawley) we’ve decided to enter the first JCI UK Debating team in French. I’ve spent a good part of the European Convention getting ready for this with my fellow frogs Rafael & Sophie but it was worth every minute we’ve put it in. Wednesday 15th: Opening Ceremony. It’s amazing to be able to witness the energy in this room. I was incredibly proud of the familiar faces I saw on the stage, particularly Sarah.
JCI European Convention was very well organised, with day programs and evening parties. I really enjoyed representing the UK in the debating competition. We’ve taken a challenge and worked hard to make it happen. Seeing some members of our delegation who don’t understand French but who showed their support during the whole competition was priceless: Lindsey, Henry, Charlotte, Melissa, Neal, Michael you guys are amazing!! Your support has helped us more than you can imagine.
Saturday night was probably the best moment! We are the United Kingdom and that spirit of people being united was around our two tables. We didn’t win the Debating Competition, but we are still vice champion of French debating in Europe as first timers and people who don’t speak French on a daily basis. This was a great achievement as a team and as individuals. Soon after the results announcement came the awards. Well done UK, we came back with 3! Well done JCI Manchester, first to go on stage and JCI London. Until the Saturday morning, I almost forgot that I was running for an award. Or maybe I just tried not to think too much about it, fearing disappointment. On stage, Kaspar (our Vice President for Europe that I met the September before for a project in Malta) and Joanna are announcing the list of people shortlisted, the third person is announced and there’s no sign of me.. I thought never mind that means they were better than I was which was fine with me but.. it actually took 3 seconds of disappointment and 1 second of hope when I actually realised that I was the 4th person shortlisted. From then, all I could hear was excitement in the screams from the UK table and then it happened. They just said my name… I’ve just been elected Most Outstanding New Member in Europe, surrounded by some of my really good friends and the whole delegation. Feeling like déjà vu times 100, people are applauding me, and I will never forget the first hug (of many that night) given to my friend and going on stage with Sarah and last but not least being pushed by Michael (I really mean being pushed….. then forced to run with my 10cm heels, only he can do this…). Walking on stage in front of 2,000 people is a unique experience and a mix of multiple emotions all happening at the same time. Thanks Michael & Sarah for walking (and running) there by my side, and the Tampere guys for avoiding a fall. Thank you to the people who’ve acknowledge my work too, who came to talk to me, spent time getting to know me.. I have never given so much hugs in one evening.
So you’ve guessed it, I’m actually the third one being awarded tonight. This reward, although being an individual one, is definitely a victory for the whole chamber and the UK. Being self driven is not enough to win; you have to be inspired by people to commit to change and that’s why I thank everyone who’s been an inspiration: family, mentors, friends, JCI members.
Good news is, I have won a free registration to Quebec. Not so good news is I did not plan to go so I hope I can make it. It would be an honour to see my chamber’s name on screen in front of thousands and thousands of people, JCI United Kingdom and my name.
To everyone wondering what you can get from JCI, my answer is that JCI is the place where you can better yourself and make a significant impact in your local community whilst having fun with awesome, like-minded people and be a future leader meeting leaders.. Follow blog number 3 and 4 for more about my crazy month!
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Celestine Onomo Onomo