The city of light. The Eiffel Tower. The Louvre. Yes, Marika Jeziorek is going to Paris. Not for a vacation, not to take a course, but to represent Canada at a gathering of young delegates at the G-20Y Summit.
A PhD student at Guelph, Jeziorek is studying international development and political science and has a long-standing interest in international politics and issues. She attended the 2010 youth summit held in Vancouver.
“That time I applied initially to represent Canada, but because of my background − I have Polish and Canadian citizenships − I ended up representing the European Union as minister of finance.” The Vancouver Summit ran for six days. “It was so enriching. I finally had a chance to use all the concepts and ideas I’d been learning.”
That positive experience motivated her to become more involved. She joined the Canadian organizing committee, YouthCan for International Dialogue, and took on the task of recruiting university students to apply for the 2011 summit. More than 110 did apply, and three jury members selected the eight who would actually attend, including Jeziorek.
Most of the G8 countries send eight delegates; the G20 countries send six. Many European countries help support the expenses of youth who attend on their behalf, but Canada does not. Jeziorek is being sponsored by the Dean’s office of the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences and the Office of the Provost and Vice-President (Academic).
“It’s wonderful to have this sponsorship,” says Jeziorek. She hopes that more U of G students will apply for next year’s summit and thinks it would be a natural fit for many, given the enthusiasm on campus for politics and global issues.
In Paris, Jeziorek will be the youth version of Canada’s minister of economics. “I said I was willing to take any role because I think they are all important, but I like being minister of economics because the economy is often blamed for all the world’s problems. It’s a controversial role, and that makes it interesting.” At the summit, the ministers of economics will be addressing current issues such as trade regulations and sustainable growth.
“You can’t just state your own opinion at these events, since you also need to represent your country, so it takes quite a bit of preparation,” adds Jeziorek. “The members of the Canadian delegation have been skyping each other each week to discuss issues and to make sure we are consistent.”
While Jeziorek has been to Paris once before, visiting that city again is definitely exciting, she says. But equally exciting will be getting to meet and talk with other young people from around the world who are as passionate about these issues as she is. “I really care about making the world more just and more sustainable. Yes, many of the ideas we have are idealistic, because we are young. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good ideas.”
The summit runs May 29 to June 4. At the closing ceremony a final communiqué with recommendations from the young delegates is prepared and signed off by each head of state. “The president of France has endorsed this summit, so we look forward to him reading our report, and we hope he finds something useful in it,” says Jeziorek. Copies will also be presented to the heads of state of the countries represented at the event.