Have you ever had the feeling of being overwhelmed because you got more, much, much more than what you were expecting? Well, I hadn’t, till I came for the World Bank and IMF Annual meetings.
Usually, any long, monotonous sessions would lull me to sleep, but somehow, I was wide awake in every session that I attended, despite being jet-lagged and sleep-deprived! Be it the youth capacity building session with the IMF officials, or getting a chance to mingle with the IMF sponsored youth leaders and CSOs, the learning only in the first 5 hours of the meetings was phenomenal. I must confess, my mind was boggled, and I felt a little dizzy, either due to sleep-deprivation or due to the information overload, I can’t truthfully say!
It wasn’t until the second day that things came back to normal. Maybe it was the jet lag wearing off; maybe it was the fact that all the other World Bank youth delegates had gelled in so well, as if we had known each other for ages, but there was something about the place that started feeling like home.
The respect extended to us by each and every person who met us, the appreciation we got for the work that we had been doing back home, and the chance to present it to people who mattered; the opportunity to meet new people (networking, as most people would call it) and to be able to make them understand more about problems that the youth in Pakistan was facing…the list could go on and on and then some more, but I still won’t be able to finish.
However, the most magical part of this experience for me was the things I learned from these meetings. I got the chance to understand that people working at the World Bank and the IMF were human beings striving to make a positive change in the world, just like us. The fact that they got it wrong sometimes notwithstanding, their effort and sincerity towards their work should still be applauded! I met five amazing strangers from all over South Asia, who were friends just waiting to meet!
I let go of my very embarrassing bias against Indians, got inspired by the work a Nepalese was doing back home, learnt Sinhalese from a Sri Lankan, got pearls of wisdom from a strong Bengali young lady and fell in love with the shy delegate from Bhutan! The work that these special young people were doing back at their respective countries was awe-inspiring, and I gathered a lot of ideas to kick off some of these projects back in Pakistan!
Similarly, I hope everyone learned something from me too, and would take at least one positive thing back with them, with the promise to continue the good work that is being done and take the initiative to kick-start more collaborative efforts!