The kids -and then some adults- were exited and curious. Most of them had never been to Buenos Aires, neither had they participated in a Youth Congress. We met at the bus station in Rosario around 3:30 a.m. to make it on time for the bus, which was leaving half an hour later. However, they were already there, energetic and happy about what was coming.
To be a part of a Congress with 200 other young kids from all over the country and the region so as to exchange ideas, debate, create, get to know each other and bond was an unthinkable adventure a while ago. Each one had travelled a different path to get there and developed skills that made them confident that they were ready for it. How many of us had the chance to stop and talk about what we cared about when we were 17? How many of us were heard? How many of us noticed that we had the leading role in our present and future?
The trip started with a hasty tour around Buenos Aires to get to know the most important places: the House of Government (Casa Rosada), the bicentennial museum, Puerto Madero waterfront, the metro, the Obelisk and Palermo (neighborhood). “There’s too many people”, was one of the first impressions. The call for pictures got in the way of the explanations and answers for the kids’ questions about the country’s history, the buildings, and the workings of such a big city. With a critical awareness, they stared at the renovation signs in the Cultural Center, recently opened in the former Argentinean Post Office Palace. “982 million pesos? The schools are falling apart, the streets are a disaster… can’t they use the money to fix that?” The comparisons with Rosario were part of the agenda, and good spirits and jokes completed the perfect picture. In the afternoon, going back to the hostel -where most of the other kids were staying- gave them an idea of what was coming: a multicultural and diverse environment for young kids who shared the same drive and energy as them.
“The planes go right through the middle, for real!” The debate held on for a while, until it could not be maintained. The kids innocence made them think that huge planes flew through the hole of the emblematic ICB building in Puerto Madero.
The Congress was for thinking, reflecting and daring. Different issues and topics such as addictions, poverty, social exclusion, education and abortion were some of the topics selected by all the participants to debate on. Romina, Marco, Andy, Damián, Cesar, Agustina and Daiana came back from the experience with many things worth mentioning: new friends, new experiences, and new ideas. More important yet, they discovered more about themselves and a whole new world of possibilities.
The Congress organized by Ashoka gathered 200 young children between 15 and 22 years old with the goal of developing new leaders. For two days, the kids attended to lectures, debates and workshops where they worked together with their peers around different topics that they suggested.