Recap of the Annual Curator's Meeting in Geneva

August 24, 2015

I represented Barbados at the World Economic Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland last week as Curator of the Global Shapers Bridgetown Hub and the experience was nothing short of incredible.
The Global Shapers Community is an initiative of the World Economic Forum and is developed and led by young people who are selected on the basis of their achievements and commitment to make a difference in their local communities. The Community of over 5000 young people under the age of 33 is divided into a network of Hubs in every major city around the world. Each Hub manages projects that focus on various issues such as youth development, entrepreneurship and sustainable development.
With my Caribbean posse: L-R: Aruba, Suriname, Kingston Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Montego Bay Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominican Republic.
The Bridgetown Hub was founded in 2013 and is managed by 5 hub members. I took over the role as Curator in July for a year and received full funding to attend the Annual Curator’s Meeting in Geneva.
Over 450 Curators from 142 countries came together to share challenges faced in ongoing projects and to develop strategies on how best to enhance and accelerate their impact. Working together in an environment of trust and understanding to build practical solutions that have global impact is one of the key features of the Shapers community. I now have Hub partners and great friends in Africa, North America, the Middle East and ASEAN community who are there to share resources, experience and skills.
Not only was it a priority for me to ensure that Barbados had a seat at the table, but to raise the profile of the Caribbean youth on a whole. I attended a provocative session on long term investing, infrastructure and development with industry leaders based at the World Economic Forum who focussed on the ‘blended economy’ concept. We had the opportunity to discuss specific issues faced by the islands in the Caribbean and potential ways in which the regional Shapers can work together to come up with sustainable solutions. The focus is on creating long term, scalable impact.
The 5 day event consisted of panel discussions, team building exercises, workshops and community service in Geneva and surrounding areas.
On the final day I was part of a small group of Shapers who volunteered for a creative session at a shelter for asylum seekers being housed in a bunker beneath a hospital on the French border.
Interacting with this group of young men from Eritrea, India and Ethiopia who were currently ‘in limbo’ and had been through so much adversity was an incredibly humbling experience. We had Shapers from Italy, Mozambique, USA, Morocco, Indonesia, Norway and Canada in our team who were pretty taken aback at first; we didn’t quite know what we were in for. Luckily, the Curator from Mozambique had facilitated similar group ‘sessions’ with at risk youth and within a few minutes we were all dancing to music from our respective countries and sharing dance moves. I made sure to introduce them to ‘All ah we’ by Peter Ram! Seeing the Curators applying their leadership skills in a difficult situation like that reaffirmed my passion for this compassionate, global community.

The images of our community service session above were taken by Hugh Weber.
The Bridgetown Hub will be focussing on growing membership significantly in the next year and will be recruiting young people between the ages of 18-30 who are not only passionate about building a better Barbados, but have also proven themselves to be leaders and capable of getting things done as part of a team.
Get in touch with the Bridgetown Hub via or Twitter @GlobalShapersBB
You can find out more about the Global Shapers Community via @GlobalShapers or

Postcards from Geneva | ACM Day 1

August 14, 2015
As I mentioned in my previous post, I popped over to Geneva for the Annual Curator's Meeting as part of the Global Shapers community.

I say popped, but that was most definitely not the case. After over 24 hours of flying, I was a complete zombie when I finally arrived in Switzerland. It was grey and muggy, and I was miserable. 2 flights, 3 buses and a taxi later, I slumped up to my hotel room around noon, crossing my fingers that I had a tolerable roommate for the week.

After brief introductions, my new amazing, sweet and pretty incredible roomie quickly sussed out my current mood and suggested we explore the town, reminding me that this would be one of the few afternoons off during the ACM. I knew our newfound friendship was off to a great start when she listed the different cafes and food options she had researched ahead of time. I was so right!

We explored Geneva for the rest of the afternoon, after picking up some baguettes and taking in the scenes as we sat in a park along the river, before heading back to the hotel for a quick powernap before the ACM opening ceremony. 

I was immediately drawn to the water in the city centre, it was crystal clear and bright blue! Though Geneva was peaceful and certain parts seemed quaint, I felt like I needed to give the city another chance before deciding whether I liked it or not. 

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't expecting this Annual Curators Meeting experience to be similar to my life changing One Young World weekend in Pittsburgh a few years ago. The Global Shapers community has a similar vibe to it and I was really excited to be inspired and connected with cool people doing their bit to change the world. 

Maybe my power nap didn't set me in the right mood to begin with, but I felt really irritated by the patronising tone used during the ceremony. It felt like 'they' were trying to entertain children.  We had to sit through a gruelling 'concert' by two of the Global Leaders who had clearly stopped chasing their childhood dreams of musical superstardom. The music was awful, and it was a wasted opportunity to highlight one of the many local musical talents in Geneva. Not only that, but there was a ridiculous clip of a female silhouette dancing provocatively used as the backdrop to one of the acts. My inner feminist was fuming by the time the show was over.  I don't blame anyone who met me for the first time right after that concert for thinking that I was a serious debbie downer, but I was really hungry and pissed off by the time it was over. 

On a more positive note, the opening ceremony and cocktail reception was held at the beautiful Bâtiment des Forces Motrices - an old hydroelectric station dating back to 1886 that appears to swim in the middle of the Rhone River. I took a stroll around before and after the event and took in this magnificent building.

After a class of wine and too many canapés, I felt much better and started to take in the now buzzing atmosphere of the night. Over 400+ people were there from every corner of the globe, and though this was incredibly interesting, the conversations generally followed this routine:

"Where are you from?"
"What do you do?"
"What projects is your Hub working on?"

These three questions help someone decide whether they really want to talk to you or not. Events like this are just as much about the networking as they are about team building and Global Shapers camaraderie. Most people and a strategy in mind, and they weren't shy about it. I generally don't work like this and tend to get sucked up in storytelling, but I don't mind when people are pretty frank and clear about what they want from you. Coming from a small island that many people had never heard of before, I tend to get asked the same questions repeatedly. I understand that people are curious, but sometimes it gets kind of boring, so I tend to ask pretty random questions to shake things up a bit. Those who buy into my random questioning generally become friends, like this awesome chick pictured below:

Highlights of the first day: meeting and connecting with my awesome roommate and leaving the first event feeling buzzed and excited for the week ahead!

Please note that these opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinions of the Global Shapers Bridgetown Hub.

Annual Curator's Meeting in Geneva

August 12, 2015
After a whirlwind week recovering from Crop Over, it's time to get serious again.
As I type this, my hands are shaking because I'm so excited for the week ahead! I'm going to Genevaaaaaaaaaaa!

Since 2013, I have been a part of the Global Shapers network and at the beginning of July I took over as the Curator/President of the Bridgetown Hub. You can read more about the Hub here.
The Global Shapers Community is unique in its reliance on empowered young people to shape and lead their Hubs under the guidance of the Community Charter. Each Hub is organized in an autonomous way under a Curatorship. The Curator is the functional lead of the Hub for one year, with a mandate starting on 1 July and ending on 30 June.

Once a year, the current Curators are brought together in Geneva in order to discuss the purpose, mission, values and culture of the Community in order to ensure the success and sustainability of each Hub and the greater network at an event called the “Annual Curators Meeting”. The Meeting provides an opportunity for the next generation of Curators to exchange best practices on relevant issues, from selecting Shapers to Hub Governance, to exchange insights with World Economic Forum colleagues on varied regional issues and pressing world challenges, and an opportunity for Curators to create local impact in the host city of Geneva by serving the local community. 
I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by the World Economic Forum this year and I will be in Geneva from Aug 13th - 17th!
I can't help but expect it to be similar to my life changing One Young World experience and even if it isn't, I am so honoured to represent Barbados as part of a community that I feel very strongly about.

This will be my first time in Geneva and I know that the Geneva Shapers have a packed itinerary planned for us so I can't wait to see what's in store. Thought we won't have much spare time to ourselves, I'd appreciate any tips and tricks for those who may be familiar with the city in case I get a chance to explore. Especially food, ANY food suggestions are encouraged :)
I'll be tweeting and posting as much as possible, so follow along via @skiptomalouuu and skiptomalouuu on Instagram.

Crop Over Chronicles: Kadooment 2K15

August 11, 2015

We joined Baje International on the road again this year and absolutely loved it

I was less than impressed with my costume though, since it was tinier than anything I have ever worn before and I didn't get any feathers as part of the package. Serves me right for waiting until the last minute to book my costume I guess. I was also slightly concerned that J's male costume was more elaborately designed than mine...

I spent the week before Kadooment stressing about what I was going to wear on the road and ended up buying a sequinned leotard [because those are obviously readily available during Crop Over!] and sprucing up a friends' old feather collar. Apparently it's really difficult to smuggle feathers into the country because they're from China, who knew? I didn't really care that I didn't match perfectly, once I was covered and as glittery as possible! I think I may have overdone it on the feathers though, as I was o obnoxious people hitting others across the face with my feathers every time I turned around...#paradiseproblems

Cool, rainy weather + great friends + plenty tuuuunes + Machel performing on the road = epic Kadooment!

Here are some snapshots from the roadddddddddd: