A journey of discovery at Caux

By Ornella Nana, Young Ambassadors Programme 2017



Ornella Nana, from Ireland, aged 22, took part in the Young Ambassadors Programme during Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business at the Caux Forum 2017.

When I applied for the Young Ambassadors Programme (YAP) I wasn’t sure what to expect. I imagined it would be like all the other youth gatherings I had been to – an opportunity to network and discuss important issues with other young people from around the world. But there was so much more to the YAP than trying to solve global challenges and making great contacts with other young people.

The distinctive thing for me was the deep connection with people whose stories I would never otherwise have heard. People were given the time and space to liberate their minds and tell their stories without the fear of being judged or misunderstood. We heard their side of the story, their personal experiences and how they felt.

This changed my perspective. It allowed me to see that, no matter how different our stories, backgrounds and experiences, we shared a stronger commonality –through brokenness, fear, disappointment, forgiveness, vulnerability or even success. These were all factors that united us as humans.

Understanding other people’s journeys gave me the courage to face mine with boldness and without fear of being wrong. It inspired me to stay true to who I am, and made me aware that I can create an impact at all levels and every stage of my life. I learned that, although our realities and understanding of life may be different, somewhere in our deepest consciousness, we all have this feeling of vulnerability. Out of that place of vulnerability we can also find our greatest strength.

Being in Caux was such a journey of discovery! You never knew who you would sit beside at breakfast, lunch or dinner. The vibe and atmosphere was so peaceful and friendly. You could engage in profound conversations with older people about their lifetime experiences or hear amazing stories from peers, who showed so much bravery in their work. More important, you could also encourage someone else through your story, or simply by being yourself.

One of the most amazing habits I cultivated in Caux was taking a quiet moment every morning to reflect on my day and my life and to be inspired by a new day in which all things are possible. The programme prepared me to be a leader and taught me that leadership and true impact start from within. I began to understand that every conversation I had was important, because it not only told me a story about that person, but also revealed who I was, where I stood and what I could change.

I realised that no matter how small I am, if I really start making positive changes in my life, that has the power to make an impact. If I want to see more people smiling, I can do that by smiling first. If I want to see more peace, I can start being peaceful in myself and with others around me. You cannot always change how situations turn out. But choosing to live your life at its best can impact more people than you can imagine.

I am grateful that there is a place in the world where people can come with curiosity to learn about themselves and other people, and discover peace from within.


Featured Story

related stories

YAP goes online

The Young Ambassadors Programme goes online

The Young Ambassadors Programme (YAP) went online for the first time this summer, after six years of continuous growth and development and a pause in 2020 for reflection and adjustment to the new real...

Patrick Magee 600x600

‘Where Grieving Begins – Building Bridges after the Brighton Bomb’: a live interview with Patrick Magee

The second in Tools for Changemakers’ series of Stories for Changemakers took place on 25 August 2021, with an interview with Patrick Magee, who planted a bomb at the Grand Hotel, Brighton, in 1984, w...

Summer Academy 2021 screenshot square

Forging a network of problem-solvers to build a secure and sustainable future

The Summer Academy on Climate, Land and Security 2021 brought together 29 participants from 20 countries. From Egypt and Senegal to the United States and Thailand, zoom windows opened for six hours ev...

Salima Mahamoudou 21 July 2021 FDFA workshop CDES 2021

Remaking a world in peril

The Caux Dialogue on Environment and Security (CDES) 2021 ran online from 20 July until 30 July, for the second consecutive year, comprising three open plenaries and seven workshops. This year’s discu...

CL 2021 Hope square

A Journey from Uncertainty to Possibility

2021’s Creative Leadership conference took participants on a six-day journey ‘From Uncertainty to Possibility’. Between 25 to 31 July around 150 online participants living in over 50 countries engaged...

FDFA Baobabcowherd-1 Noah Elhardt through WikiCommons square with logos

A pathway to peace and prosperity in West and Central Africa

In the context of their partnership, Initiatives of Change Switzerland (IofC) and the Peace and Human Rights division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs organised a webinar on the them...

LPM report 2021 square

Peacemakers in the making

‘I am super happy to have been part of the Learning to be a Peacemaker course – we learned the true colours of Islam!’ wrote 18-year-old high-school graduate Nma Dahir, from Erbil, capital of the Kurd...

Choir Musical Stories

Musical Stories from Caux

‘What a magnificent presentation of stories and music’, commented one of the participants of the only in-person, by invitation, event of this year's Caux Forum Online which took place on 1 August 2021...

Books for changemakers

Books for Changemakers

A bi-monthly drop-in book club to resource you and fellow change-makers. Dive or dip into important and inspiring resources and ideas, connect with kindred spirits and explore your inner wisdom. ...

ICBE 2021 square white background

Sustainable businesses needs purpose beyond profit

Corporations and industries need a purpose beyond profit, says Sunil Mathur, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Siemens in India and South Asia. ‘Companies’ purposes are critical,’ he explai...

Stephanie Buri and Nick Foster Opening Ceremony Caux Forum 2021

Opening Ceremony of the Caux Forum Online 2021: Swiss perspectives on peace

The Caux Forum Online 2021 opened on 5 July with a panel on ‘Swiss Perspectives on Peace – past, present and future’ to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Caux Conference and Seminar Centre as the ...

Dhanasree Jayaram CDES 2020

A closer look at links between environment and security

Food security is a key to understanding the complex connection between climate and security, Dhanasree Jayaram, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations Manipal...

Shrouk Gamal

'A better version of myself'

'The conference showed me how much I really love to socialize with people. The members of our dialogue group asked me questions I never been asked before. This made me think about lots of things, in n...

ZimbaWomen credit: ZimbaWomen

Empowering women to enter the market

The Co-founder of Zimba Women, Peace Kuteesa, is passionate about providing women with the tools and resources to participate in their economies and develop their communities. She spoke at last year's...

Hani Abou Fadel

'Humans are made of stories'

'This extraordinary conference has changed me to be more ambitious, intellectually honest and more consistent', said Hani Abou Fadel from Lebanon after his participation at last year's Creative Leader...