Last night ROSL extended the hand of friendship to over 15 Commonwealth organisations who represented the broad range of areas the Commonwealth has a direct impact on. From journalism and education, to business and the environment, these organisations work tirelessly across multiple countries to make advances in their fields. The aim of the night was to extend the conversation to “the future of the Commonwealth,” with just over 100 young people who attended the event.

The evening started with a series of addresses by Emma Kerr from the Commonwealth Secretariat. Emma spoke passionately about the meaning of the Commonwealth and the history behind CommonTies, which celebrated its first anniversary this year. To watch the full speech see below:

Jackie Yu Hon Lam followed Emma’s speech with a discussion on the history of the Royal Over-Seas League and his personal experience as a young person working in Commonwealth organisations. Many of you may already know Jackie as one of our Younger Members Committee members and we were honoured to hear just how much ROSL has made him “feel like a part of the family.”

We concluded with our keynote speaker, Rafiullah Kakar, who is an international development professional with current specialisation in peace and conflict and youth development. He currently works as an Assistant Research Officer at the youth division of the Commonwealth Secretariat. Prior to joining the Commonwealth, Rafi worked and volunteered as a peace activist with youth-led organisations in Pakistan to counter extremism and promote human rights. He also wrote commentaries on politics and development issues for some of the leading newspapers in Pakistan. He grew up in one of the most conflict-ridden and poorly-governed regions of Pakistan i.e. Balochistan and eventually overcame many challenges to win Pakistan’s only Rhodes scholarship to study at the University of Oxford. Last night he told us a bit about these trials.

The audience then split into four to join in one of our workshops, which lasted just over an hour. This was a chance for young adults to engage in and raise important issues in one of four areas: gender, business, climate change and the arts. The discussions were intense, and some very interesting and valid points were raised throughout the night including the different issues race plays on gender issues, the growing impact of social media on the arts, how climate change is changing human migration patterns, and how businesses are evolving to cope with our demanding world.

The evening then concluded with a wine reception, where the debates continued well into the night.

On behalf of ROSL I would just like to say it was a pleasure hosting CommonTies and extending the hand of friendship to so many wonderful young minds.

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Special thanks to all the organisations who took part last night:
Rotary International
Association of International Accountants
Commonwealth Journalists Association
Ramphal Institute
Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network
Commonwealth Human Ecology Council
Commonwealth Association of Science, Technology and Mathematics Educators
Programmes Officer (Youth and Education)
The Director and Manager of Policy and Research
Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council
Commonwealth Consortium for Education
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
Commonwealth Youth and Gender Equality Network
Cabinet Office
Commonwealth Secretariat

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