My stomach fluttered with what felt like a thousand butterflies as we crossed the street and entered the archway of the COY12. People slowly started trickling in the small concrete complex that greeted conference attendees. As we were waiting for the actual conference to open, Sarita exclaimed: “Let’s do a flash mob from our play right here, right now!”This flash mob was a hit and definitely broke the ice for talking to other COY participants. I soon was crowded by a group of young women from Morroco who were eager to get to know me. Pretty soon all of us were laughing and guilty of taking a couple of selfies.
The COY12 was full of youth who were interested in either learning new things, meeting new people, or just to participate. I met groups of youth from different schools all over Morocco. I was surprised by the amount of people who were willing to hear what I had to say about our Earthbound journey. I also did not realise that I had so much to share. I would start speaking about Earthbound and then I started to go into depth of my experiences and the things that I learned. I even ended up getting interviewed, which I thought was pretty cool!
I expected to be learning from workshops and speakers daily, but I didn’t learn as much as I hoped, and those that I went to were less organized than I expected. On one morning, I came ready to learn about the ocean relating to climate change but ended up sitting in a classroom waiting for the workshop to begin with some fellow Earthbound students. Other workshops I was planning to go to that day were canceled. Although I did attend a workshop about the Dakota Access Pipeline that was really interesting. Even though I may not have learned that much from workshops, I ended up learning more from the participants themselves.
The reason the conference was disorganized was due to the fact that an organization (YOUNGO) has been organizing the COY for the past nine years. This year the Moroccan government decided to get involved at the last minute, causing a lot of complications. Last year I was told that the COY11 was absolutely amazing, as it did a really great job of showcasing innovating solutions to climate change. As well the theme of last years COY was more participative as the theme of COP21 was about making a unified agreement.
Although the COY differed this year from last year, there were a lot of benefits. I made some good friends and had very interesting discussions. I learned a lot more about climate change from others and broadened my knowledge of the DAPL. I also got to have the thrill of flash mobbing Earthbound’s roadshow multiple times. Overall, the COY and the message it stands for should make everyone want to be a part of it. I encourage all young people to attend the conference next year and to make sure they bring their innovating ideas and their youthful perspective on climate change.
Written by Ruby Newman
Photos by Roxana McDonald