World Congress provides life-transforming experience

May 9, 2023

World Congress provides life-transforming experience

The World Congress is an event hosted by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) for educators and students from around the world to gather and explore the future of post-secondary education. More than 1,500 people attended the 2023 Congress on Montréal from April 21-25, 2023, including NorQuest student Gurleen Kaur Bhandohal. Gurleen shares her experience representing NorQuest College at the World Congress Youth Camp.

I was full of curiosity and excitement when I departed Edmonton to be a part of the World Congress and thrilled to be representing NorQuest. When I landed in Montréal, I was amazed by the lively spirit of the city and how welcoming everyone was.

The camp kicked off with an introduction to 22 global leaders who came from around the world and from different Canadian provinces. Our group learned about leadership, sustainable living, biodiversity, ensuring security and well-being, advancing Indigenous education, cultural diversity, and more.

The theme of this year’s congress was collective intelligence: how the world needs to ensure a holistic and creative approach to meet the needs of a diverse student population. It was very interesting to learn how students who were part of the camp had different educational backgrounds and careers but had one thing in common: a passion to bring a wave of change to conserve the environment. This common mindset helped us to blend so well that we made friends with each other on the very first day of the camp.

As the week continued, our collaborative efforts grew. As a group, we raised the voice of youth about the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development goals and what is required to achieve these goals from a student’s perspective. We were motivated enough to propose changes to the World Congress Montréal Declaration, a global statement of sustainability to reinforce and strengthen commitment to building a more sustainable and equitable world. The declaration is signed by Colleges and Institutes Canada and the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics. It was a proud moment when two youth members co-signed the declaration along with CICan’s president and WFCP’s board members.

I felt grateful and honored to share at the Youth Camp how NorQuest College is contributing towards the UN’s goals by not just focusing on the academic aspect of education, but also recognizing students for their exceptional skills, qualities, and contributions to community inside and outside of the college. My heart was filled with joy when one of the students from the youth camp sent me a message saying, “I am so inspired by your work that I would like to walk in your footsteps.”

It was also a proud moment to know that CICan selected NorQuest College as the bronze recipient of the Excellence in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion award. This made me understand why people at NorQuest are called “difference makers”.

One very important thing I learned from the Youth Camp is that we must consider Indigenous peoples with us on this mission to make the world more equal and sustainable. They are the ones who provided us with this land that we call home today, and we can learn from their daily life practices, which are already sustainable.

This camp was a life-transforming experience for me. I am so grateful to be the one that NorQuest trusted to represent the college at one of the biggest events of the World Congress 2023. Working with such an amazing group of young people who bring brilliant ideas to the table was incredible. The experience of meeting so many youths who are fully dedicated towards the betterment of the environment and the well-being of others helped me to plant a seed of hope that the world is in safe hands.

Gurleen Kaur Bhandohal is a second year NorQuest student in the Interdisciplinary Assistant Program.