More than 1,200 young adults are heading home today after spending the last four days in Pittsburgh searching for solutions to some of the world’s most perplexing problems. But local organizers wanted to make sure the One Young World delegates also had plenty of time to learn about the city.
After returning to Pittsburgh from the 2011 One Young World Summit in Zurich Switzerland where she served as a delegate, Leigh Halverson decided that when the 2012 summit came to Pittsburgh, local residents needed to have more opportunities to engage one-on-one with the delegates.
“So the goal was to create more breakout sessions and opportunities for delegates to get out to the classic American home in Pittsburgh,” said Halverson.
To make that happen, Halverson and her team started to build 50 breakout sessions where delegates would be shuttled to businesses, non-profits, and government agencies throughout the region to learn more about some of the issues facing those organizations. Among the most popular was a trip to Google where leaders from that company spoke about how to conduct a successful brainstorming session, and a session featuring some of the region’s top non-profit leaders.
Halverson said Heinz Endowments President Bobby Vagt spoke about his dealings with Marcellus Shale issues in his session and then listened as the delegates gave him “five or six ideas that he could tangibly take back to his office that really changed his opinion and thought process” around the issue.
“I just thought that was a really great example of how the delegates in the conference are leaving a lasting impact on our region,” said Halverson.
River Life, the non-profit group focused on preserving the regions waterways, hosted a session and Halverson said the delegates that were part of that gathering have promised to continue to work with the group’s leadership on tough issues moving forward.
Along with the breakout session, Halverson helped to find 120 locations where delegates could eat diner one night and engage in conversations with local residents. Most of those dinners where in private homes.
Halverson said the goal of the dinners was to introduce the delegates to Pittsburgh while at the same time introducing the city to the delegates who represented nearly 200 countries.
“I think we might have a few new recruits to Pittsburgh from the sound of things. People are ready to move here and make their life, which is very exciting,” said Halverson.
At the same time, said Halverson, spending time with some of the world’s most engaged teens and twenty-somethings has energized Pittsburgh and given Pittsburghers a renewed sense of hope for the future.