The Journey of the Dutch Delegates at the 66th MMWhen local becomes global.
"Think globally, act locally", you might have read, heard or even spoken these four words that together form the sentence comprising the IFMSA slogan. As someone who's not familiar with IFMSA you might wonder what this slogan stands for, as an IFMSA member you are probably used to hearing these words all the time. But only when all 124 IFMSA countries gather at one place, uniting for a common goal, you get a better understanding of what they truly mean.
People from all over the world entered Montenegro by plane, bus or car, waving their national flags proudly, full of energy and with tinkling eyes. They knew why they wanted attend this meeting, and they knew that they want to make the world a better place. All those people, from Austria to Syria to Canada to Australia, organize the same kind of projects in their countries. These projects might even better or completely different. This creates a bubble full of new and fresh ideas, and strong international friendships. Yet, how deeply I want to describe this further and further as a beautiful fairy tale, reality is that it is not always such a happy fairy tale as you wish.
A couple of days before the General Assembly (GA), I noticed that some delegations were not able to come. They were not allowed to get a visa to enter Montenegro. It may not be a surprise that this were not delegates from the Netherlands or Australia, but from countries such as Sudan or Iraq. Passionate young people could not attend a meeting because of the country they were from.
On the first day of the GA, I met a wonderful person from Syria, who I can now describe as a true friend. During our conversations he elaborated on the situation in his country and how he was managing to study medicine with only a few hours of electricity a day and limited water supplies. He explained that his other delegatesâ€™ visas were rejected, but that he was lucky since he had a Russian passport as well. His face was filled with passion when he told me that he wanted to help changing his country to give people a fair chance in life. How can it be that a good person is interrogated for no reason at the airport and held there for three hours?
Then, during one of the last days, the IFMSA-Iraq president gave a speech, a moment many people describe as one of the most moving moments of the GA. He spoke about how the media can influence ideas about countries. Yes, there are countries at war where thousands die, but there are also good moments and amazing places to be seen. He spoke about the soldiers fighting for freedom and the fights that are now their fights, but could be ours as well. All thousand students stood together side by side in a moment of silence to commemorate all the fallen soldiers and civilians who fought for our freedom.
During these days, we met people with different backgrounds from all over the world, originating from fortunate countries to poor countries, from countries in peace to countries in war. That is when you have to face reality. Innocent people are still facing war on a daily basis, innocent people are still being treated wrongly because of the country they are from, innocent people still face poverty and hunger, innocent people still face inequality. But although the world is not a fairy tale, to be able to stand together on these matters and to fight for our beliefs to make the world a better place , is what makes us strong and eventually will improve the world. "Think globally, act locally".
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