One of the most riveting moments came at the end. In so many ways, it captures why this particular gathering is so compelling and in my opinion, valued and worthwhile.
Stephan Chambers, the eloquent, articulate leader of the Skoll Center at the Saїd Business School at Oxford University, is the Forum's overall host, kicking off each plenary with his unique framing of the talks and presentations to follow:
He always includes at least one, if not more, quotes from poets he admires. He also closes the Skoll Forum with his summary of what we have learned and experienced. This year he said that something surprising happened to him: He cried nearly every day of the Forum. What makes this remarkable and worth repeating is what he said next: that we have to remember that he is male, an Oxford professor, and British, to boot!
We all laughed, of course, but we got the message: When important and powerful ideas are presented in ways that come from the heart, with the right intentions to influence and effect positive change, we cannot help but respond emotionally -- no matter our cultural conditioning or place of birth.
As the Skoll World Forum closed on Friday afternoon, I felt a lot more optimistic about our ability -- working together across sectors, across cultures, across religious, across borders -- to find better solutions. I felt this way because I met and listened to and learned from many of the women and men who are identifying, developing, and delivering solutions to some of the most intractable social issues of our time. I felt this way because we were activists, but also just human beings, gathered together, being vulnerable and proactive, sharing our stories and lessons.