The story of the YSI journey by 2017 participant, Diane Delava from Belgium.
Imagine yourself travelling for hours to Oslo, Norway to meet your team for the first time after working together for four and half months online. You are going there with no choice but to instantly bond with them and utilize every minute. You’ve met them several times but only on internet platforms with microphones not working, slow internet and time zone differences. These weren’t the ideal conditions and it didn’t break all the ice – I was kind of stressed when I first met my team.
Open up, become a strong team and work to change the world. Yes, it’s as crazy as it sounds but we had to trust the process.
– Diane Delava, Participant 2017
Hitchhiking your way to sustainable impact
I knew I was in for an adventurous ride when joining the program. In fact, joining YSI is much like hitchhiking. The only difference is that you are not just on a ride with a company of strangers where you can hop off wherever you want. You have to, together, choose a route and a destination that you will commit to. The instructions that we had were simple and clear: Open up, become a strong team and work to change the world. Yes, it’s as crazy as it sounds but we had to trust the process.
Week after week we started to deal better with time zones, a hint of team spirit started to develop and we started to divide tasks and submit deliveries. With the help of time, the road became clearer, the load became heavier and a blurry vision started to grow before our eyes.
In Oslo: “Work Work Work Work Work”
Now imagine singing Taylor Swift songs with people from all around the world -who had no singing talent, at all – after 10 hours of working. Imagine having improvised power naps in the office because we had to wake up early to get to work.
And worst of all, when you think you have time to work on the idea and you get some time to really work on it, you’ll get interrupted with a seminar, great knowledge of course, but never the right timing. You will always be competing with time.
Nothing great comes without hardship
And what happened after all that? Together, Team one was able to create an innovative solution to contribute to the efforts seeking to solve SDG6: clean water and sanitation. We were able to form a collaboration with MIT to use Xylem technology to develop the most affordable water filter. In the ten days we spent in Oslo we saw exponential growth of Xyla Water, from just an idea to a formal collaboration with MIT to talking to media to pitching to investors.
You have to be brave enough to stay at the edge of your comfort zone and commit to this long adventure.
Looking back, it’s unbelievable how in less than a year we were able to achieve what we did, now Xyla Water has its own volunteers program and we are joined by distinguished young impact leaders from all over the world. We are now in the process of launching our first pilot project.
Things were not perfect and they still aren’t but we believe that it’s a learning process. We make and have made mistakes, we seek consultancy and make corrections and keep working on our mission. Our road trip is still going but now we have a shared playlist, we have our own jokes and we are planning reunions already!
This could be you, you can be a co-founder of a startup that can revolutionize a solution to one of the SDGs. However, If you want to change the world, you would have to dare to make changes in your life’s priorities. You have to be brave enough to stay at the edge of your comfort zone and commit to this long adventure. Don’t apply to YSI just for the free stay in Oslo, it’s not worth it.