Sunday, November 29, 2009

Intro to the CCF – Transit, Day 2, and the Sense of Camaraderie - From Olivia

Hi All!

We definitely had a long trip over to Copenhagen. It was already tough to coordinate the different flights from all over the U.S., but it turned out that we got delayed for a really long time in New York. Fortunately, we got off the ground after a seven-hour wait to head off to Copenhagen!

Our roommates, Cressi and Katie, are two amazing girls from the UK who were so friendly although we got to the hostel really late at night. Since some of us were missing luggage, they even volunteered some PJs and clothes along with providing us an overview of what we missed the first day. We weren’t able to attend the opening ceremonies and climate “marketplace,” but they definitely helped us out by describing the arrival of the countess (the patroness of UNICEF Denmark), the great cultural dance number, and the display boards of different countries. We were ready for the next day after that!

Copenhagen is a gorgeous city with amazing canals, buildings, and culture. The CCF is being held in the City Hall, which was described by one of our roommates as “sort of like a Victorian hospital.” Its high ceilings and intricate tiling gave us a sense of wonder and history even as the stately rooms we were working in gave our task more gravity.

Before the serious business, however, we had a great time playing what I’m going to call “World-Ball.” We arrived in the main exhibition hall, a little dazed and worried about our own naked exhibition board, to find a circle of delegates from Italy, Malawi, Indonesia, and elsewhere tossing/kicking/volleying around a humongous inflatable globe. We were invited to play and happily joined in. What really struck me was fact that we’d all applaud a particularly impressive kick or when someone saved the ball before it got precariously close to one of the vibrant display boards. I suppose you could say we tried to really ‘get on the ball’ and ‘rolled’ with it. Aside from the bad puns, the circle and friendliness of “World-Ball” was a great way to start the day.

We were then directed to interest groups and, after that, working groups, where the sense of openness and cooperation only grew. In my working group (Urbanization), there was a particularly touching moment when Jovita, of Hong Kong, started crying as we were discussing how to implement green spaces in urban areas. She felt a sense of desperation because Hong Kong was so urbanized that there was absolutely no room for green spaces—something the rest of us had never even considered. We tried to come together and develop alternatives that could be applied in Jovita’s community, including increasing potted plants and balcony gardens. I think the important takeaway message here is that we really needed to consider the differences inherent in the various countries of the world, no matter how small they may seem.

Throughout lunch and the plenary sessions of the afternoon, we were able to socialize with and meet many more delegates. I got to talk to Jesús, of Spain, about our shared love of Spanish food. With the group of Chinese delegates, I broke out my stilted Mandarin. Haitian delegate Coralie worked with Fergal, of Ireland, and me on finalizing our subsection of the Urbanization group’s presentation. There were so many amazing people that we met throughout the day and so many different countries represented! I’m so excited to go back tomorrow and meet even more.

Over lunch, I had an interesting conversation with Daniel of Denmark and Anand of India about the climate policies of our respective countries. We discussed President Obama’s promises and work as well as future directions of the U.S. I think this conversation really highlighted how respectful everyone has been at this conference. Despite differing views, we’re working towards a common goal while cooperating and seeing eye-to-eye after debating a variety of contentious issues.

The end of the day was a bit frantic, as we needed to set up the exhibition board and prepare for tomorrow’s cultural presentation. Luckily, we had the amazing Ragnar, from Iceland, who helped us out so, so much. As he pinned a picture to the very top of the exhibition board, we talked about the differences between Iceland and America as well as how the plights of other countries are so compelling and important to address. With his help, we finished the exhibition board and headed back to the hostel.

Day Two (AKA our first day) at the CCF was a whirlwind of different meetings and planning sessions, but in the midst of all that frantic working and debating, we found common ground with the other delegates. There’s a spirit of openness here that has helped me, for one, better appreciate different viewpoints and the need to consider everyone with regard to this global issue. Hopefully, we can maintain this sense of community not only here at the Forum, but when we return to our home countries.

Having another session of “World-Ball” tomorrow is definitely something I’m looking forward to. More soon!


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