Shape Europe 2016: A Recap

On behalf of the Calgary hub, I had the opportunity to attend Shape Europe 2016, which was held in Athens this year. In reality, I was the only shaper present who was actually living in Canada, and so the burden to represent our country was quite heavy!

Shape Europe, is one of the conferences held worldwide by Global Shapers, and, while the issues are European focused, they have global reach. For example, this year, we focused on economic growth, youth unemployment, and the refugee crisis.

The conference was a great opportunity to meet Shapers from around the world – with members representing hubs from South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia present. What we all learned, was that while we have different perspectives, we are all facing the same issues, and together, we can make an impact on solving those issues. Combining our skills and the networks of the Shapers present, we were able to quickly get to the heart of these issues, and put our heads together to create something unique.  

The weekend was made up of a series of speakers and panels, with representatives from Coca Cola, WEF, Deloitte, and the Microsoft Corporation as well as the ICRC, the Hellenic Initiative, Ashoka and OpenFund. As you can see, we were provided with a diverse set of opinions from both the corporate and NGO worlds. In the panel discussions, we focused on successful projects from other hubs, and brainstormed how we can better implement them in the future – or develop something similar to tackle an issue at our communities back home. There are some very exciting projects in the works to help integrate refugees and create a positive environment for them, and I am excited to see how they will pan out in the months to come. For example, Refugee Fun Day provides activities for children in refugee camps and allows them to have some normalcy in daily living. Also underworks, is a project which will share refugee stories from around the world, and focus on the positive contributions of these individuals to their communities.

Among all the projects we discussed, I found that the ReGeneration project (led by the Athens Hub) was the most inspiring. Aimed at providing Greek youth with the skills necessary to gain full time, meaningful employment, it was truly an example of what Global Shapers are mandated to do.    

During the off-moments of the conference, we were shown around Athens by the Athens hub, and experienced a tiny bit of Greek culture.

It was an unforgettable experience and I am so thankful that Global Shapers provided me with this opportunity.   

- Theresa Yurkewich