Maybe it’s the overwhelming layers of life that each student contributes to the group. Maybe it’s the sleepless nights of preparation that have been put into the trip. Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve inhabited a city with hundreds of years of history. But we’ve aged.
Many of my classmates, in fact, sound old. They are able to contextualize each new event at the 21st Conference of Parties in a history of climate negotiations while at the same time articulate their concerns over ambition, climate finance, and everything in between through a multi-lingual framework that accommodates a diverse audience.
1. There is a lot of excitement—I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard “Oh my gosh,” “Gah! I’m so pumped,” or the warm-my-heart phrases of “Where are we going?”, “Wait, what?”, and the all-mighty “What the f*** does that mean?” It seems like the shared curiosity of experiencing the COP for the first time has motivated everyone to poke their noses into as many conversations, interviews, or restricted-access zones as possible.
3. There is a lot of getting lost, raging hormones, and raging hormones coupled with getting lost—After the first day of negotiations, at least five ways of communication were pursued in order to identify one individual who was not accounted for at the end of the day (s/he/they went out to dinner with a few people s/he/they had met at the conference and had lost power in BOTH of her/his/hir cell phones). It culminated in a few noteworthy hashtags including #saveshane and #wheresShane2k15. Furthermore, s/he/they and I were able to discuss the beautiful, intelligent, and justice-oriented individuals that s/he/they had dinner with. But I digress…
I am in awe of the capacity of this group. Through a combination of grit, drive, and jealousy, each of us inspires each other to go further with our work and with our passions. It’s only been 48 hours, but I’m hopeful that our growing wisdom and inanity will bolster the voice of the youth and the next generation. We are fresh, raw, and excited to move our world towards a just and sustainable future.