This past August I had the honour of representing Tshwane Hub at the newly renamed Global Shapers Annual Summit, previously Annual Curators Summit. This year the summit included not only the curators from hubs around the world but also the winners of the Shape Your City challenge and with Shaper Advisory Council. When I think about my time at the Summit it always comes down to 3 things; People, Place and Purpose.

People. Becoming a Global Shaper at the Tshwane Hub gave me a home at a time when things were considerably uncertain for me. It gave me a place to work with people who understood the urgency I felt to make a positive difference in South Africa. It gave me a place to grow, not only in my skillset but also in my own form of leadership. Going to Geneva expanded that tenfold. Being around people from all over the world with the same drive but with different approaches reminded me how powerful the Shaper community is and how, if used effectively, can create cumulative positive change around the world. Shapers were honest, vulnerable and powerful, and throughout the exercises and sessions the learning increased as the bonding did. As African Curators we’ve started discussions around how we as young leaders can start holding our leadership accountable and how we can take the lead on shaping our narrative. Exciting projects to come. And as it should always be, with the intensity came the crazy fun. We danced up storms to each other’s music, chatted away into the early hours of the morning and randomly joined the locals for an evening salsa session in a gazebo. Time with shapers never disappoints!

Place. The summit afforded me the opportunity to be in some of the most powerful spaces in the world. Walking along the corridors with a fellow South African shaper I had an incredible moment when I spotted a photo of Tata Madiba with a World Economic Forum badge around his neck, the same kind that I was wearing. If I could tell the young girl from Chatsworth, who would always find her name linking her to the country’s history, that one day you would be sharing places that our freedom fighters did, she’d probably never believe it. Being able to visit the United Nations was something else I could never quite utter into existence and again, through this experience I got to walk the floors where so many important decisions were made. The final thing was being at the right place at the right time. This year, the summit had its first LGBTQ+ inclusion session and I was privileged to be part of it. After the honest discussion we were able to start planting the seeds of ideas around collaborating to improve inclusion and to help each other with the progressions of LGBTQ+ rights. Watch this space!

Purpose. The summit reminded me that I joined and continue to remain in the Shaper community because it encompasses people and a place that gives me a home to fulfil the purpose I feel in fighting for rights and improving the world for everyone in it. The summit revolved around #BuildingAMovement and what that looks like for us around the world. Besides the separate battles we all choose to take on in our lifetimes, the summit reminded us that as the global shaper community part of the strategy to build a movement and live our purpose is to 1. enable young people to self-organise for impact and 2. amplify the youth voice. These two sentiments are what I will take with me in each of my activities as a Shaper moving forward.

Shapers Summit was an amazing experience that really opened my eyes to the incredible diversity, creativity and impact that’s taking place through the community around the world. Please take advantage of every opportunity to experience the shaper community on a global level!