Two weeks ago, I participated in the JCI World Congress in Kanazawa, Japan. I knew this was going to be a special event because it also marks the 100th anniversary of the JCI movement and boy was I not disappointed. I have to admit, the 9 hour time difference threw me somewhat but who has time for jetlag when there is training, excursions, keynote speeches, the trade show, general assembly, competitions and yes, even parties to get to!?
Zooming in on a shinkansen (bullet train), we made it just in time for the JCI UK welcome meeting. There, we were given an outline of what to expect throughout the week, what some of the national board would be getting up to as well as a chance to meet with members of JCI I had not met before. The rest of the day consisted of settling in to my new home in Kanazawa and preparing for the opening ceremony later that evening.
If you attend no other event at a JCI international conference, make sure you attend the opening ceremony. It’s like the Olympics where you get people from (almost) every country in the world dressed up in national dress and waving lots and LOTS of flags!! Countries get to cheer as their national presidents come on to stage. There were speeches from the organising committee, senior figures within JCI, the local government and even a member of royalty, Princess Mako of Akishino, granddaughter of the Emperor of Japan!
JCI conferences are great because you are able to choose which events you’d like to go to based on your preferences and what you want to get out of it. The first training session I attended was “Japan for beginners”. This was really great as we got an introduction to the language (came in very handy for finding the loo!) and the culture (I absolutely love Japanese culture, I’m from Asia myself but I’ve never experienced anything like it!) .
Other training I attended included a motivational talk on “Finding the Magic in you” as well as a session on “Turning your passion into wealth”. One of my highlights of the congress was watching JCI Sheffield president, Mark Smith lead the JCI UK team of debaters at the debating competition. It was inspirational and I am so proud of them for making it to the finals.
Another highlight (as is the case with almost every World Congress) was the night event “Global Village”. This is an event where every JCI member country gets a stall to showcase something (usually culinary) from their corner of the globe. Naturally, JCI UK served Gin & Tonic (shaken not stirred) and chocolate. Popular consensus declared our stall to be the favourite in the hall – okay this may be a bit biased but hey, we were still buzzing with people when most other stalls had finished!An element of every JCI international conference is the opportunity to go on excursions. Mine involved visiting the neighbouring town, Kotmatsu and making udon noodles from scratch! Yes, flour did get everywhere, and yes some pieces of noodle was fatter than the others but it was so fun to make and even tastier to eat!!
I could go on and on and on about everything that happened at the JCI World Congress but really, unless you experience it for yourself, you may not fully appreciate the value, the buzz and the realization that JCI really is an international organisation and JCI members are making a difference in every part of the world each and every day. JCI World Congress (an indeed other conferences) are opportunities to celebrate our successes.
Matthew Wong, JCI Sheffield Member
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Ryan Pilkington