What can you expect of Ottawa as this year's Host City?
Hi everyone,it's Katie Dolan here.
I’m writing to you today to let you know a couple of things:
1.) What being a One Young World ambassador has done for me personally;
2.) To tell you a bit more about my hometown, Ottawa, and why you should be extra excited to come here for the 2016 Summit.
I figured I would approach this blog by writing as though I was talking to a friend. Because, really – that’s the beauty of One Young World, attending the summit has made me live my life feeling as though I am part of something bigger than me. I now have an extended family that spans across 196 countries. I am honoured to say that I am part of a global network of individuals that aren’t necessarily just like me, but we do have one profound thing in common that will forever link us together: We believe that we have the power to change the world.
Like these people who are from all walks of life. I met them at our external breakout session in Bangkok (hey guys! Give me a follow, I would love to reconnect: @OttawaKD).
I was extremely fortunate to attend the One Young World Summit in Bangkok as part of the Team Ottawa contingent. Not only was I there to promote Ottawa as the 2016 Host City, I was afforded with the once in a lifetime opportunity to attend as a delegate. This opportunity was not lost on me, and definitely warranted this promise I made to myself:
At One Young World, I will find my calling and actually do something about it. I will come home revitalized, and committed, to do my part in making the world a better place, and make my mark.
I am standing by that commitment in two ways.
Firstly, I am the chair of the Social Media Committee, as well as sitting on the local organizing committee for One Young World. I am devoted and determined to ensure that this Summit is the best one yet. My vision is for One Young World delegates to experience my hometown in the best way possible, while immersed in a platform to absorb all the One Young World content.
Secondly, I am organizing a run to raise awareness and funds for statelessness and refugees (money generated will go to Refugee 613). This 5km fun run, which will be taking place the night prior to the Summit, was also dreamt up as a way to enhance the overall delegate experience here in Ottawa. I wanted to organize an activity for the delegates arriving a night early, to familiarize themselves with their stomping grounds over the next four or more days, as well as network with their fellow delegates and the Ottawa community. Ottawa boasts an amazing recreational pathway system, one of the largest in North America. This offers a stunning backdrop for a One Young World icebreaker. My vision also involves giving the local community an opportunity to be part of the energy One Young World is bringing to our city.
Photo credit: IGER @hannahkgm
True to the promise I made myself, I came home from Bangkok and immediately asked my boss to set up a meeting for me with the president of Run Ottawa. I showed up to the meeting prepared. I pitched my idea, The Home Run, with pen and paper poised, ready to take down as many notes as I could. I had never organized a run before; therefore he was a great connection to have to figure out how to actually pull this off. The enthusiasm and passion I exuded must have rubbed off on him because he came on board as the Official Race Organizer. Thank you, Mr. John Halvorson!
I have received overwhelming support from my Ottawa industry family, such as Epic Fitness Ottawa (our official warm up crew), the Westin Ottawa (hosting registration as well as supporting the run), the Shaw Centre (hosting the after party), Events.Com (the registration platform), plus friends and family offering to volunteer their time and energy for this. A client/friend, Chantel Beaupre, responded to my Facebook post asking for help with creating a logo. When I received this file, I knew this was really real and it was going to happen. Stay tuned for more information – registration will be going live within the next month or so.
It would be remiss of me not to note that this run was inspired while sitting in the 2015 Human Rights Plenary Session, after hearing Kamolnan Chearavanont speak. She told us about The Voices Organization, which she started when she was 14 years old. I plan to pay my respects to her and what she stands for by incorporating music into the run.
I was waiting for a moment at the Summit to pull at my heart strings and clearly speak to me that ‘this is my purpose of being here’. I have her to thank for this.
My challenge to my fellow One Young World Ambassadors and Host Cities:
Organize a run on the same day as me (Tuesday, September 27th, 2016). Power in numbers; can you imagine the impact of having satellite runs taking place around the world, all running to raise awareness for refugees and statelessness? Now THAT would be something pretty special, and powerful. Share your stories/images via my social media handles on Twitter, Instagram as well as on Facebook. You can organize a formal race with registration and select a local charity to support, or just get your family and friends to run with you. #TheHomeRun
Ottawa, my hometown, my people.
I am a proud Ottawan. Ottawa is much more than a city to me. It where I was born and raised, where my family resides, and where my passions live. It is where I belong.
I have chosen a career path that has allowed me to promote the city I hold so near and dear to me, exemplified by my stint at Ottawa Tourism. I have worked here in various capacities for over 8 years.
The Elevator Pitch:
As Canada’s Capital, Ottawa is a city of impressive landmarks, a wealth of cultural attractions, in a beautiful natural setting, all wrapped up in a relaxed urban vibe. Nestled at the junction of three rivers and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Rideau Canal, the city is considered one of the world’s most beautiful capitals. The city borders the province of Québec, creating a dynamic cultural milieu in which both French and English cultures are treasured. Add to that its clean, green natural setting and the allure of the surrounding wide-open green spaces, parks and wilderness areas, and you’ve got a capital combination that attracts millions of visitors every year.
You are going to feel at home here. Even though we are Canada’s Capital city, we also boast the kind of atmosphere that invites you to explore our inner workings with a real small town feel. We are a lively people, welcoming, and not afraid to say ‘hello’. This applies to all sorts of places for potential stranger greetings: at baggage claim, in elevators, on street corners, in pubs/cafes… Be prepared; you’ve been warned.
We Ottawans are the kind of people that bring our roots everywhere we go. We have the kind of energy that radiates and is contagious with everyone we meet. We wear the maple leaf with pride, and extend an open invitation to anyone we come across to visit the city we proudly call ‘home’.
The BeaverTail, a delightful sweet (or savoury) pastry treat is the perfect reward for skating the canal… or ‘just because’ / wandering around the ByWard Market and the Poutine, a Canadian delicacy and must-try while you are in Ottawa.
Disclaimer: Katie Dolan shall not be liable for any addictions developed to these two foodie gems during time spent in Ottawa.
We say ‘EH’. Not for the fun of it, but to genuinely engage someone else to offer their input on something / continue the dialogue. Example: “The One Young World Summit in Ottawa is going to be something really spectacular, eh?”
We Ottawans have been known to commute to work via skating (along the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
The Rideau Canal in the winter, platform for commuting via skating.
Photo credit: Craig Barlow
We as people embrace being a four-season destination (for the most part) and customize how we live our life in the form of hobbies depending on the time of year. Snowshoeing in the winter, running the trails in the spring, canoeing/kayaking/white water rafting in the summer, hiking in the Fall (to name a few).
When you come to Ottawa, the season that awaits you will be Fall. Consider this a heads up that you will surely ‘fall for fall’ in Canada’s Capital City.
This is a time of year that the city comes alive in a paintbrush colourful kind of way. The fall foliage kicks into full force and painted pumpkins join the welcoming committee in the ByWard Market. Autumn is a relatively dry time of year, a time when umbrellas aren’t as abundant as they are in the spring. Translation: it is a wonderful time of year to come to Ottawa. And, after you do, you can add to your bucket list the other 3 seasons to come to our city. Because, really, it can be a completely different experience depending on the time of year you visit.
So consider this a warm invitation, from me personally, to attend One Young World in Ottawa, my stomping grounds. Feel free to connect with me prior to your arrival. I have all the time in the one young world for my extended OYW family.
Myself and the @OYWOttawa social media team will be generating hype, fun facts, images and stories leading up to the summit. I encourage you to give us a thumbs-up / follow, and be part of the energy.
Ottawa team in Bangkok
One Young World ambassador Andrew Ponton and me
My house is your house. Mi casa es tu casa. Ma maison est ta maison.
Same applies to any language.
One Young World, Ottawa is ready for you. See you soon!
Image credit: Destination Canada (formerly the Canadian Tourism Commission)