From YSI 2016 to emerging leader award

Noè Petitjean (19)
Noè, from Belgium, was a participant in the first YSI accelerator in 2016. Later he has been awarded the Emerging young leader award, by the US department of state. He founded Our Shared Differences, an intercultural and interfaith project gathering youth from different cultural backgrounds to address the challenges of refugee integration in Europe. Now he tells his story of YSI and the effects it had on him.

Hello everyone,
I am Noé Petitjean from Belgium, I had the great honour to represent Belgium in the first edition of YSI in 2016. However, my Young Sustainable Impact adventure began in 2015 when I met for the first time Maiuran Loganathan on an exchange programme in the USA. A couple months later, Maiuran was introducing me to his new idea and his wonderful team. One year after our exchange programme in the US, in 2016, I was heading towards Oslo for the first ever YSI experience. My excitement was at its apex; I was given the opportunity to make a change. The programme lasted one week, which was one of the most intensive weeks of my life. On the first day, we meet with our fellow participants and get straight to work because change does not wait! We had the occasion to come up with an idea that will make a difference!

* YSI 2016 was only 1 week, and only people 20 years or younger could apply.
* YSI 2017 is 5-months long, 4,5 months is online and people 25 years or younger can apply.
* YSI 2016 had 20 people from 16 different nations and four teams
* One team is still working on their projects:
* Many of our participants that are not involved in a project are doing well in leadership roles, and are still working with entreprenurship.

Diversity as a strength


Noè and his teammates pitching at YSI 2016. Picture by Vilde Media

The teams were composed of people from all around the world. In my team, I had friends from the USA, India, Poland, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was a challenging team from a cultural point of view. Even if we all got along quite well; working with people from very different cultural background requires a lot of attention and understanding so that what makes us different can be used a strength to stimulate innovation. Moreover, the diversity in the disciplines that each of the team members possessed was highly useful in the designing of our project. On that point, YSI was a tremendous opportunity to experience intercultural as well as interdisciplinary work.

From local to global

At first, YSI was like a small family to me. It began with my friend Maiuran and then expanded to the YSI crew and participants. We all shared the big ambition to lead the youth to create a change for the future. And I was impressed to see that one year later in 2017 our community of change-makers had grown exponentially to over 10,000 people. At that moment I was given the opportunity to be apart of the admissions board. The number of applications was incredible, however; the quality of those applications was even more. Competitivity was set and YSI had just gone global.

YSI for me today

If I have to describe how grateful I feel for being a part of the YSI experience; a book might not be enough. The lessons learnt on team building, project construction and development, entrepreneurship, have helped me to develop my own set of skills, my projects and propelled me into the world where change is happening. I have been developing projects on intercultural dialogue and I can tell for sure that the education that YSI gave me was a strong catalyser to the achievements I have reached, but also to the learning from failures.



Noè and his team with the CEO of YSI, Amund Grytting. Picture by Vilde Media

Now it is your time to write a short story, what do you want to contribute to? YSI is the opportunity you are given to make a difference, are you going to let it go?

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