“Welcome back!” greets our tour guide, leaving me slightly confused.
“Excuse me? This is actually my first time in South Africa!” I reply with a warm smile, trying to clear the air.
He chuckles at my perplexed expression and clarifies, “Humanity was born in Africa so all beings are essentially African and this, their home. So, welcome home.”
Such is the overwhelming hospitality and warmth that South Africa welcomes you with.
Theirs is an enviable culture, one that has emerged through great difficulties to be synonymous with an African way of life. The city is replete with modern facilities and infrastructure, yet everything is anchored by distinctive traditional elements. It took little time before we felt at home with the energy and community spirit that pulsed through the city and its people.
That is the essence of the African culture — celebration of life and expression of emotion. People sing and dance as one to the rhythm of beats, express themselves through colours, and are brought together in their zest for life to cherish an insurmountable community spirit. The Enactus spirit is, in fact, no different. The World Cup was a testament to Enactus as a celebration of the diversity of culture, abundance of ideas, and cross-generational leadership in action.
Each time Enactus teams met, drums could be heard playing in one corner or another. People would break into a dance to the beat and instantly, the room would come to life with cheers, laughter, and hugs.
The scene was no different when thousands gathered at the pavilion for opening or closing day ceremony. Whenever Footprints of Africa entertained us with their spectacular performance, the pavilion would erupt into a dance and join the performers in a celebration of the Enactus family coming together. Language and geographical barriers melted away as we danced together in human chains, singing African tunes.
On Day One, we had a cultural carnival where we saw countries proudly showcasing their heritage, from traditional Mexican attire to rugby for the Irish. Over dinner, we’d be on a table with the Irish, French, Canadians, Australians, Nigerians, and that was only the beginning.
At the Enactus World Cup 2015, 3,000 attendees represented 36 countries to celebrate the entrepreneurial accomplishments of 70,000 Enactus members who transform over 2 million lives globally.
36 countries came together to present the best of their social entrepreneuship ideas. From reusable and washable sanitary napkins (Team Zimbabwe) to retaining the rich Korean culture through Hanbok created by ex-convicts (Team Korea), and from building affordable housing projects using plastic bottles primarily (Team Puerto Rico) to training refugees with cooking and handicraft skills (Team Egypt), ideas were plenty and inspiration overflowed.
Behind the different causes that the projects supported stood the common principle that we all win. Through the projects, students aim to empower the 7 billion of us to live lives of dignity and opportunity. Each project stands for transformation.
It was also in this spirit of collaboration for the common good of humanity that we were encouraged to challenge the status quo through an interactive, curated dialogue with thought leaders on sustainable change. As we engaged with them, we felt the gravity of the cross-generational leadership that Enactus cherishes. The Enactus family came together to discuss issues of Food, Water, and Energy on Day One followed by a discussion on Women’s Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship on Day Two, the latter being the issue I personally feel strongly about.
I was humbled to be nominated as the Social Ambassador for Singapore. My role included working directly with the marketing communications team of Enactus to spread the potential and energy of Enactus and the World Cup through media channels. We were also given special access to restricted areas to catch behind-the-scenes action. Hence, we had the best seat in the house. The responsibility that the Enactus team trusted us with was humbling yet empowering. The team at Enactus was so welcoming of our ideas and gave us plenty of opportunity to share our opinions and experiences directly with them.
Africans hold the belief of Ubuntu: “We are because you are. And since you are, definitely I am.” Enactus, to me, is a perfect reminder of that spirit. In an organisation where each individual is valued and stands irreplaceable for his contribution to the cause, we are because you are.
One year of planning, and countless hours of practicing and preparation gave us the unique opportunity to represent Singapore on this global stage. Here, I am reminded of who we are, the potential we each hold, and the sea of opportunities around us. I am reminded of the feeling of purpose; when we dedicate our passion to a common cause and work to improve lives in a sustainable way, we all win.
So how was Enactus World Cup 2015? Unbelievable.
Anushka is the Vice-President, Publicity and Marketing of Enactus NTU. She was our Social Ambassador at the Enactus 2015 World Cup in Johannesburg.
The embedded video was created by Joshua, also from Enactus NTU.