This blogpost originally appeared on the GFAR blog.
Two weeks after the whole GCARD3 experience, the surreal feeling has not worn off. I still wake up at the wrong time of the day, I still look for the awesome people that I experienced GCARD3 with, and I have not really adjusted back into the life that I had before the fateful day that I was told I was chosen to be a YAP finalist.
However, aside from the happy thoughts and great memories, there’s something else that I am bringing back home from the GCARD3 experience. Actually, it’s something that I’ve brought from the Philippines, and has stayed with me during my whole experience in Johannesburg. That little something is called guilt.
So, this is my secret: up until a month ago, I had no idea that any of these amazing people and organizations existed. Up until a month ago, the words YPARD, GCARD, and CGIAR were a bunch of random and seemingly nonsensical words for me.
I know, I know. Bad little entomologist.
For all my years studying and working in agriculture, I had no idea what kind of unbelievable world lay just outside my four walls here in the Philippines, and to suddenly land in the middle of all this beautiful, higgledy-piggeldy of people, professions, and passions was to literally throw myself into a maelstrom of information and connections that I was not ready for at all. Now, I make it my personal mission to write, talk and even scream from the mountaintops about what YPARD, GCARD, and CGIAR are, and to bring as many people I can on this amazing journey with me.
First, let’s talk about the GCARD3 conference. Every day I would wake up, I would find myself meeting new people that I found myself totally in awe of, people such as Mark Holderness, Peter Casier, Courtney Paisley, Fiona Chandler, Marina Cherbonnier, and Michelle Kovacevic. If you have no idea who these people are, I suggest that you do yourself a favor and Google them. These people might be able to help open up new worlds for you to explore, just like they did for me.
I also found myself spellbound listening to the different speakers during the different round table discussions. For example, as co-chair of Theme 1: From Research to Impact, Judith Francis facilitated discussion about how to translate scientific research into practical applications. Lana Repar presented during Theme 3: Keeping Science Relevant and Future-Focused, spoke about how science does not belong on the dusty shelves of some university library, but rather in the hearts, hands, and minds of farmers.
Now, let’s scale it down into something more personal: the YAP experience. Sitting in that small room with our YAP mentor Michelle, I was hit with the realization of how privileged and blessed I was. On a global scale, I, along with the four other people I was sitting with, were chosen to bring our projects to life. Movers and shakers with power and resources looked at our proposals and said, “Yes, these proposals have the power to change the world.”
If there’s one thing that I will be bringing away from this whole experience, it is this: sometimes, just sometimes, small ideas can be the start of limitless beginnings.
As Peter Casier told me, nearing the end of my time at GCARD3, “This is not the beginning of your end, but the end of your beginning.”
So, for everyone reading this blog post, never be afraid to put yourself out there. Never be afraid to take a chance, no matter how small or insignificant your own status might be. Never tell yourself, “What chance would someone like me have in something as grand as this?” instead, tell yourself, “I have just as a good chance as anyone taking this chance with me.”
Who knows, one of these days you might find yourself waking up in a hotel room on the other side of the world, ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure, just like I did.
Blogpost by Josine Macaspac (josinemacaspac(at)yahoo.com), one of six finalists in the Youth Agripreneurs Project, a pilot project targeting young agricultural entrepreneurs (“agripreneurs”), co-organized by GFAR and YPARD. The YAP Finalists launched their projects during the #GCARD3 Global Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, 5-8 April 2016.
Read the original YAP proposal here.
Photo Credits: first- commons.wikimedia.org; second- Peter Casier