“Do you know the story of global dignity?” Maria Fernanda Gandara of Mexico asked just past 11 Saturday night.
The architecture student, 23, wore a leopard-print dress, black boots and orange-red lipstick as she kicked off a Night Owl session at the One Young World Summit. From Thursday to Sunday, the summit gathered 1,200 young adults engaged in treating the world’s ills, as well as chief executive officers, former heads of state, a Nobel Laureate and a supermodel.
Gandara said she is a volunteer teacher in Mexico, telling children about their basic human rights -- education, security and health care -- as defined by the principles of Global Dignity Day. (The nonprofit Global Dignity has marked the day on the third Wednesday in October.)
In one workshop, seven-year-olds growing up amid the nation’s drug-fueled turmoil made drawings of their future.
“The girls drew stars and hearts and guns,” she said. “They wanted to be soldiers to protect their families.”
Giving Gandara a fighting chance at stopping the drug war is the ultimate ambition of One Young World Summit. How to do that is no easy matter.
The sharing of personal stories was an essential thread of the four-day experience in Pittsburgh, in the convention hall, in the homes of Pittsburgh residents who hosted dinners and in precious little unscheduled time.
The super model Natalia Vodianova, 30, told of taking her children to play parks her foundation has built in Russia.
Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus told of developing his idea of a bank for poor people. “I looked at what all the big banks do and I did the opposite,” he said.
Barclays Plc CEO Antony Jenkins said he’d just had two days of meetings with senior executives to discuss “the purpose of Barclays.”
Jenkins also said he has a screen in his office so he can see all tweets mentioning Barclays. On the day the Libor scandal broke, his screen was aflutter with 10,000 tweets. On a typical day, there are about 2,000.
Catherine Kipsang, 22, of Kenya, sat down for a one-on-one with Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter Inc.
“We both founded companies, so we exchanged notes,” Kipsang said. Last year she co-founded givenumbers.com, which posts detailed profiles of Kenya politicians to engage citizens in the political process.
“He said if growth is slow, it’s fine. He remembers a time when he hit 5,000 on Twitter and he was excited about that, and now it’s so many people. I guess it inspired me to know you can grow slowly and still have a great product.”
Dorsey said Kipsang “blew me away.” He expected that she would achieve her goal of becoming president of Kenya by age 45.
Personal stories were at the heart of a session led by Frederik Pferdt, Google Inc.’s global program manager for innovation and creativity. Saturday afternoon he guided about 40 delegates through a four-hour exercise in product design modeled on what Googlers do.
It started with a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Losers had to line up behind the victor and cheer as he faced new opponents.
“When there’s a good idea, you get behind that person and help them to move it forward,” said Pferdt, sporting a Google watch.
He then asked each group to identify a user to interview about his experience of wasting food, with one person taking notes on Post-Its. These were stuck on a wall for further refinement until a clear definition of the user and the need was determined. A “Yes, and” brainstorm ensued, leading to the groups designing -- with pipe cleaners, play dough and magic markers -- a “pretendo-type” of their product.
Shaaz Nasir of Ottawa, Canada, told his group that he eats out a lot, and the only time he leaves food on his plate is when he doesn’t like a dish. His group imagined an app that would allow users to specify the dish he felt like eating, and his general taste preferences, to help him find a restaurant serving it.
Gandara, sitting on the floor of a hotel lounge with five or six others on Saturday night, found a use for the drawings of guns. At the World Economic Forum on Latin America, she handed them to William Brownfield, the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
“He was very appreciative,” she said.
The summit ended last night with the passing of the baton to next year’s host city, Johannesburg.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Elin McCoy on wine, James S. Russell on architecture.