Going to a foreign country, you always want to be prepared for all possible outcomes. The good, the bad and everything in between. My luggage reflected that. Both the physical and the mental. I had clothing which Eskimos would model as well as those you would wear when the sun seemed to reign supreme. Mentally I was going to make the best out of everything, no matter the outcome.
It took two days for me to reach my final destination of Johannesburg, South Africa. When I finally got there the main thought that was on repeat, like a broken record was, “besides having the opportunity to visit a new land untouched by the soles of my feet before, I hope this experience is going to be mind-blowing and life changing.” When I entered that room with the other YAP finalists (Jony, Nikki, Lillian and Josine) the first day, I knew from then that it was going to be just that.
You might be wondering what the first indication of this was. It was the fact that I was greeted with faces of enthusiasm, hope and an eagerness to make a change from every individual in the room.
A good sign.
This resonated throughout the entire conference for me. A feeling of hope and passion which was wonderfully articulated by the guest speakers I was privy to hear. I believe these two words—hope and passion—are the key building blocks for any story of success or victory you’ve ever been told. Something that I somehow knew before but was now at the fore front of my brain and imprinted on it like a permanent tattoo. Yes, passion and hope were needed for my project, focused on providing natural skin care through sustainable agriculture, to be a great success. A project which allows me to do what I love while helping and empowering others in the process.
Now where did I collect this notion that being honoured as one of the six finalists would not involve public speaking?
Boy, was I wrong!
The carefully scheduled pitch training session had a purpose: to prepare us mere mortals to slay this huge giant called public speaking. To make it even more challenging, why don’t we add in the time constraint of doing it in two minutes.
Yes, each of us had to explain our project to an audience of 500 people—the drive behind them and the positive impact we are trying to make. This was something I was not prepared for and dreaded every time the thought passed across my mind. I had a fear of public speaking. I tried to avoid it at all costs, but equipped with the knowledge from the workshop, so carefully planned by Michelle Kovacevic, I decided to take this on as a challenge I would conquer.
Finally, the day came when the battle would begin between my fears and my purpose. And boy, what a battle. Fortunately for me, I managed to slay that giant with the lethal cocktail of practice makes perfect, a few teaspoons of confidence and the finishing touches of sincere support from my colleagues and mentors. After my two minutes were up, I had collected a new badge of honour. I was elated! Public speaking was no longer an obstacle to me but an opportunity for others to understand why they, too, should want to be a part of the venture I was embarking upon.
Coming In For Landing
We came! We saw! We conquered!
GCARD3 served as a foundation for greater things to come in the present and future. For me it was the needed catalyst to catapult the movement of collaboration between people of all ages in demonstrating the importance of agriculture. I was really impressed by the active participation of the youth in the conference.
And we should be involved, to shape the type of future we want for ourselves and the generations that come after us. It was clear to see that the youth carry this feeling that one might classify as extreme hope. Hope that obstacles we face in the present can and will be overcome by collaborative work and innovation. These sentiments were reinforced by the young Jim Leandro Cano, as he gave his speech to the audience. This left a lasting impression that such collaborations also need to be reinforced in my home country and the Caribbean region as a whole.
So as I embark on this quest I eagerly await to collaborate with even more farmers for my project of producing essential oils and hydrosols. Farmers are the backbone of any nation and sometimes we tend to forget the sacrifice and dedication they have given, when taking on such a tedious job. My aim is to help diversify their income stream and give recognition to some of these dedicated workers in this field.
I am looking forward to seeing all the projects pitched by my fellow YAP finalists come to fruition, to make the positive impact we wish to see. This year will be a mix of learning, re-evaluating and evolving. A year that will be very scary, exciting and rewarding all at once. I am looking forward to it!
So stay tuned to keep abreast of our journey to make the earth a better place.
Watch KellyAnn introduce her project at the #GCARD3 conference:
Blogpost by KellyAnn Allicott – ibisproducts(at)gmail.com – one of six finalists in the Youth Agripreneurs Project, a pilot project targeting young agricultural entrepreneurs (“agripreneurs”), co-organized by GFAR and YPARD. The YAP Finalists launched their projects during the #GCARD3 Global Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, 5-8 April 2016.
Read her original YAP proposal here.
Photo Credit: first – pixabay.com; second – Daisy Ouya