by Maximilian Schubert
I have been to different official political meetings with IFSA and I always had a lot of fun. I could gain knowledge in the sessions and conferences and I experienced different cultures and people, a real melting pot. The sessions of the experts and specialists are great, you get to know interesting concepts, you get to know new studies and you begin to learn about connections you have never realized before.
But what I did not think about before attending such a conference, was the most precious thing it can offer. The little talks, the time you spend speaking with all kind of people from different working fields, with different backgrounds and with various interests.
At every dinner you can use the chance to connect to people. You simply approach them without any reason and most of the time they are happy a young person is interested in having a conversation. You may think you learn a lot about topics when you are visiting a specialist group but when you are having such a talk with a random person, you most likely profit even more.
The thing is that you don’t speak just to some high level politician of a foreign country, you have not known before, but you actually get hands on people you would never ever had the chance to talk to. Indigenous people from the rainforests, activists, founders of NGOs. You can find all kind of different people.
And so I found Mr. Riamit from Kenya. He was neither part of a party nor only an observer. He described himself as being the thin line between negotiating and observing. He is fighting for the rights of indigenous people in Kenya and he was eager to talk about our society.
He was worried about our society because in the end, we all depend on each other and many of us would not care. “What if Trump pulls out of the Paris Agreement?” he asked. “Will you close the gap?”. He was concerned about other countries not keeping their promises and the consequences for our world. When he asked me, why I was thinking that we can save the Paris Agreement, I said I had hope. “We need hope+” he laughed. Mr. Riamit showed me how the indigenous people are affected the most by climate change despite having the smallest carbon footprint. It is unfair, he told me, that a small group of people, who are not responsible for what is happening, is suffering the most under the new conditions. And most of the time, we just skip this issue. And there are indeed, only few sessions on this.
The thing at conferences which will give you the most are the little talks you can have with all those positive and interesting minds running around. If you look closely between all this hurry and noise, you will find quiet and wise characters sitting there and waiting to have a conversation with you. And if you skip these opportunities, you probably skip some of the most interesting talks of your life.
But I am sure we can find those opportunities also apart from the conferences – instead of looking on our smartphone when we have nothing to do and standing somewhere alone, bored and waiting, we should approach a stranger and just try to have a nice conversation. We probably will not regret it and we most likely will experience a special time.