by Emma Ronning and Kelly Adam, Grade 12
A stadium full of incredibly motivating speakers and 18,000 of the most passionate youth on the West Coast is a powerful experience to say the least. It was overwhelming, inspiring and empowering. Last year was the first We Day Vancouver, leaving high expectations for this year. In 2009, we were graced by the Dalai Lama and other extraordinary speakers. No one knew how this year was going to compare.
From the energy in the stadium, it was clear no one would walk away disappointed. We had some of our philanthropic heroes sharing with us the hope they have for our generation. The speakers ranged from Reverend Jesse Jackson to Philippe Cousteau. We were also entertained by the Barenaked Ladies, Colbie Callait and Hedley.
From the front row, our SMUS group of 85 students shook hands with Martin Sheen after his moving speech about his passion for activism. “Acting is my career, but activism is my life” was one of the many things we learned about this devoted person.
We Day was created to unite the youth who believe it’s our generation that has to make the change. “John F. Kennedy challenged the United States to land on the moon in 10 years. Everyone thought he was unrealistic and setting the nation up for failure. On July 21, 1969 Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Now, you have a challenge.” Jesse Jackson made this comparison to instill us with hope of our potential.
Although there were several stories shared of the challenges and inequality in the world, this left people with the opposite of despair. The mood was lifted by the talented musicians and entertaining dances. The feeling of optimism and enthusiasm was infectious. It was remarkable to be surrounded by such a large number of passionate people who we now share this with. The numbers at each event are growing and the philosophy of “be the change you wish to see in the world” is spreading.
The facts that flood us about disparity in the world is easily overwhelming. After an event like We Day, we realize there are a staggering number of people who are motivated to do their part to eliminate suffering world-wide.