We've made so much progress in such a short amount of time, but we aren't finished yet. The end is so close I can imagine my track and field coaches from high school yelling for me to lean over the finish line. (It's an amazing feeling, knowing you are close to reaching a finish line.) That was the overwhelming thought swimming around in my head as I stood at the edge of the water, looking out over the Bosphorus Strait and realizing how close I was to something special. Even though the warm weather in February was welcomed eagerly, my trip to Istanbul was not for vacation. Also, that finish line I stood so close to was only a checkpoint in this race; a race being run by an entire team, with people worldwide supporting our effort. At that moment standing over the Bosphorus there were only two of us, myself and Greg. But it's as if we had a relay team with us that grows larger every time I blink an eye. We were there to finish planning an inspiring gathering of influential minds, taking place in the city of Istanbul this June.
Soon after moving more than 5,000 miles from home to study conflict resolution and governance at the University of Amsterdam, a friend I had met while interning a few years earlier at the Center for American Progress came to visit me. Gregory Rockson, a senior at Westminster College was going to finish his final year as a Rotary scholar at the University of Copenhagen. The day he departed from Amsterdam he was rushing back to Copenhagen so he could host a pivotal discussion between Israeli and Palestinian diplomats at his university. This inspiring young man who seems to have the world at his fingertips, set in motion a roller coaster of events that would be one of the most exciting rides of my life, so far. That dialogue and Gregory's drive to always move forward launched a project called the Six Days of Peace.
Six Days of Peace is about sustaining an initiative that will build a foundation for cooperation and dialogue between a young Israeli and Arab generation that will soon become leaders.
However, it's more than just that. It's a plan for empowering a new generation of leaders by encouraging them to engage in a new orientation. Wework toward collaborating with a diverse group of these young people who want to look forward and create solutions that make sense in the long run. Together, we are beginning to shape the world that future leaders stand to inherit and the real fireworks kick off on Istanbul June 2nd. We found ourselves there in late February to get affairs in order for the big event.
It was during this preliminary visit while standing above the blue-green Bosphorus water, that I felt a deep sense of purpose. That purpose was to do my part to make sure this summit a success. This summit is attracting 200 young entrepreneurs to Istanbul from all over the world to listen, learn and work with influential entrepreneurs and innovators like Ronnie Screwvala founder chairman and CEO of UTVGroup. Screwvala started off by launching the first cable TV venture in Mumbai, and recently has been named among the most influential people in the world in magazines including Esquire and TIME. These young entrepreneurs will partner with several other influential leaders in developing ways to deal with and create revolutionary approaches to three fields: technology, energy and agriculture.
The early endorsements from leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev started to propel Gregory and myself forward, enthusiastically. It was the immeasurable guidance of the Six Days of Peace chairman James Lee founder of Lee & Partners, which kept us on track. Lee is the kind of guy that will motivate your creativity and astound you with his accomplishments; graduating from the U.S. Army and Naval Academy at the age of 13 is only the beginning. Our commitment to gender parity for the Istanbul summit has attracted wide support, especially for a summit targeting the Middle East North Africa region. The endorsements, amazing partners and contributors have pushed us forward so far. An especially important recognition must go to the summit's host and partner, Ozyegin University. Ozyeginis the only green campus in Turkey and has earned a LEED certification for the new campus.
It is all of their vision and our collective dedication that will assure this summit is committed to pushing the boundaries of what is possible for a young generation of inspired people, working in unison. Now we stand at the brink of making the first meeting of the Middle East North Africa Entrepreneurial Revolution Summit take place this June. Now it's time to lean forward and across that first finish line. So after several meetings with partners, during that early afternoon as we stood with a panoram view of the Bosphorus and eastern shore of Istanbul, my mind was endlessly filing away all the possibilities.
The Bosphorus is commonly known as the boundary between Europe and Asia. We weren't just standing on the edge of Europe gazing upon the banks of Asia, a continent I had been yearning to visit since the first time I was introduced to the game RISK as a young boy. I might have been looking at the next giant leap for Six Days of Peace, the innovative possibilities of the MENA Entrepreneurial Revolution Summit, both of which being the important subject of the next chapter of my life. Or maybe I was looking at the opportunity to shape an event bringing together people from countries whose politicians have deep animosity toward each other; this is a chance for a group of pioneers to say enough with the competitive . Let's all, men and women, gather to create some pragmatic solutions with the drive of our own entrepreneurship.
Young entrepreneurs from all countries are invited to register their attendance online. We're also looking for any other partners, speakers and investors to become involved. Everyone has something to give to this cause since all who aspire to be future 'leaders of the people' share the goal of creating new opportunities for all to benefit. So, now we are inviting all of you to join the race. To learn more, please visit www.ersummit.org.
Follow Edward Wycliff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@Rockson2