Experiencing Change From 13 Countries

October 2, 2017

ChangemakerXchange member Pritish Bhavnani shares his thoughts on the latest ChangemakerXchange retreat in the Philippines at the beginning of September 2017.

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change. (Wayne W. Dyer)

I recently received an incredible opportunity that altered my worldview and helped broaden my horizon. I visited the Philippines as a member of a global network of changemakers from all over the world thanks to a programme called ChangemakerXchange. ChangemakerXchange is an initiative co-created by Ashoka and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Ashoka is an international organisation that empowers social entrepreneurs all over the world, listing Nobel Peace Prize Winner Mr. Kailash Satyarthi among its fellows. The Robert Bosch Stiftung is one of the leading foundations in Europe aiming to fulfil the charitable and philanthropic mission of its founder, Robert Bosch.

The youth retreat kicked off with a conference where we had the chance to interact with the leading educators across the Philippines. Each of the participants had the chance to pitch its social venture as a way of introducing themselves to the network. I felt a surge of pride when speaking as a representative of my country, India. The following day we travelled to a more intimate and peaceful retreat location at the beach where we connected on a deeper level. The intention was to offer all of us the opportunity to take a break from our hectic schedules and to socialise, reflect, and recharge. This is particularly important to help us cope with our work as changemakers, which often leaves us hassled and tired. As we interacted, the subtle similarities and diversities in our cultures emerged organically. It was a pleasure to discover more about other countries and cultures. Eventually, we realised that despite our diversities, we face similar problems that require us to creatively adapt solutions to fit our specific context. The retreat also gave us the opportunity to explore opportunities to develop collaboration projects to amplify the social impact of this community.

The ChangemakerXchange youth retreat in the Philippines gathered 23 changemakers from 13 countries. It gathered diverse initiatives working on issues such as tackling human trafficking to using dancing and painting to inspire disadvantaged communities. But in the end, we all shared a powerful zest for social change. As we shared meals and sat beside the bonfire telling stories till dawn each day, an incredible bond formed among participants that now stretches beyond borders and boundaries.