Francesca’s Blog – “the biggest eye-opening experience I have had to date”

I love quotes! Each day I find on average about 10 new ones that I add to my collection and as my use of social media has advanced, I can now add pictures with quotes to my collection. I know one of the reasons I love quotes is because I find my thoughts well-articulated by someone else and think,’ That’s what you were trying to say Francesca!’ One of my favourite findings in 2011 is a quote that reads ‘Always speak the truth, even if your voice shakes’. I love it took me back to the day as a child when I lied about not breaking the TV and blaming it on my sister because I knew the consequences were grave. My mum found out anyway and my bottom suffered. Quickly though, I fast forwarded to more serious things like being a teenager and someone challenging my beliefs and being bold enough, even with a shaky voice, to speak my truth. I promise this trip down memory lane has a purpose! This quote has stayed with me ever since for many reasons because we base our lives around what we believe to be true and when we are bold enough to fight for the truth…even if our voice shakes.

Truth was a concept that danced around in my mind in the run up to our Sri Lankan visit. Google, sceptics, critics and enthusiasts attempted to fill me with their truth but a lesson I learned a while back is that objectivity is my greatest weapon in uncertainty. I told myself that if I had no expectations that it would be easier to accept whatever happened. Was I fooling myself? Yes! I had begun to form a truth. Was I worried about the truth I would find in Sri Lanka? Yes. Was I worried that they would forcibly feed me tropical fruit juice? Yes (this is an irrational fear of mine) Was I worried that I didn’t know enough? Yes! Was I worried that I wouldn’t be able to lead? Yes. Was I going to back out? No, I thrive off challenges and this one was a challenge I was not going to let win.

Sri Lanka was the biggest eye-opening experience I have had to date! From the hospitality to its history, the culture to the celebrations, Sri Lanka presented an amazing learning experience. Meeting other young people, visiting schools, facilitating workshops, making presentations and all the other fun stuff allowed me to not only dare to lead but step out and actually lead. The exchange challenged my views and made me see the world in more layers than I had previously done. The exchange has humbled me and refuelled my passion to see young people, through education, moulded into active global citizens.

It’s amazing that in life you can subconsciously place yourself in a bigger box than you were in before but nonetheless, it’s still a box! Sri Lanka not only broke down my box but took away all the screws and screw drivers so that no more boxes could ever be built!

I didn’t go to Sri Lanka in search of the truth but I was aware that I was going to be told the ‘truth’. Did I find the truth? The answer to that question is yes. The truth is we live in a young world with over 50% of the world’s population under the age on 25 – young people are important! The truth is just like everywhere else in the world; young people in Sri Lanka want change in their education systems, the way youth are engaged, gender issues, employment issues and so much more! The biggest truth I discovered was that, just like me…young people in Sri Lanka want the space to be able to speak their truth, even if their voice shakes.

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