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    JASA Alumni Kate Kekana and Ashley Dhlamini attend the first ever JA Global Youth Forum

    JA Worldwide hosts first Global Youth Forum, attended by two JASA alumni

    For the first ever Global Youth Forum, 400 JA alumni, accompanied by JA board members, staff and chaperones, converged at the Hotel Hacienda Cocoyoc in Morelos, Mexico from July 8 to 13, for a week full of addresses by global keynote speakers, entrepreneurship panels, team building activities, business competitions and challenges. The aim was to have representation from at least 50 JA member countries.

    We would like to express our appreciation to Delta Air Lines for the generous grant that made JASA alumni Kata Kekana and Ashley Dhlamini’s trip possible and thank you to the JA Africa office for coordinating the grant application process!

    After a seemingly endless round of paperwork and traipsing to Home Affairs and the Mexican Embassy, with a nail biting wait for visas to be approved, the flight date finally arrived. The two women climbed on an airplane in Johannesburg to embark on a 30-hour journey, with a transfer in Paris. They were warmly dressed but had their summer clothes packed for the forum some 15 000 km away.

    “My trip to Mexico was the most extravagant trip ever in life, it was eye-opening and life-changing. I can confidently say I’ve travelled the world because I met people from all over the world and made friends and future business partners.

    Since my trip to the Global Youth Forum, I have been thinking I want to be involved in an NGO organisation because I want to touch someone’s life the way mine was touched. I am grateful that I was given an opportunity to visit such an amazing country with caring and loving people.

    My motto: Get the most out of each day and each hour. Be Your best self. Dare to be different. Love with all your heart and soul. Remember that God helps those who help themselves. Forget what the world owes you and focus on what you owe the world. Forget what you have done for your friends but remember what they have done for you.

    My daily motivation is: “The most powerful asset is me, my most powerful obstacle is me. Entrepreneurship Is not about creating a business but about thinking of how you can tackle life in a successful way,” recounts Katsana Kate Kekana

    “I had an amazing experience at the JA Global Youth Forum in Mexico – actually it was a life-changing experience. I don’t think I came back to South Africa the same, I believe I came back better, fully fed with knowledge. I not only got the chance to meet with different people from different countries but I also got to do some activities with them and learnt about their them, their countries and their cultures.

    I made lots of friends and even possibly future business partners and I was part of a group that came third in the pitching competition. I learnt a lot from the keynote speakers such as Khadija Ali, who taught me that your past circumstances should not stop you from going after what you want – it should not even be an excuse for failure. I am very grateful for this opportunity and it was surely one of the best weeks I ever had,” says Ashley Dhlamini

    On International Night, the two women proudly wore traditional dress to showcase their cultures.

    The last day dawned too quickly and both felt emotional as they had to say to goodbye to all their new friends but the memory of this experience will remain.