Beijing Memoirs – moments, memories, and happenings from my trip to China

12 hours later and it’s touch down Beijing in the company of a pumped Enactus UCD team from Dublin. We had been crowned champions of Ireland a couple of months and were now to present the award winning project — Generation Accommodation on a world stage.

I have tried to capture moments, memories, and happenings in little packetsand themes as shown below. Enjoy.

On Travel

Missing Luggage. Extra Yuan

I had arrived the Dublin airport with two bags — both able to fit in the cabin and weighing under 10KG each. After debating with myself I checked-in the bigger bag only to arrive Beijing and no bag on the belt. Arrrgh, I should have just taken the bag on board, after all other people’s hand luggage are…

This thought was interrupted when the airport official handed me a British Airway Visa debit card and a 400 Yuan compensation — a silver lining you could say as I was reunited with my bag 24 hours later.

Key lessons: Travel is a [higher] form of education. The journey is of more value than the destination; and nothing comes of panicking, so relax.

On Food

Plenty Soup. Little Noodles

Food in Beijing is very affordable so you are open to try as many dishes as possible. As a professed foodie I got to try out some local dishes [Note: it’s just called food — not Chinese food]. First night, I got to try out some flat noodles and chicken cubes and on the second I went for the traditional noodles and chicken soup and it was delicious, especially the locally made spice with pepper and oil.

Perhaps the only downside of the meals for me is that you get so much soup and little noodles that you end up with a warm bowl of soup to drink afterwards; not forgetting the 5 bucket KFC chicken feast the team had to take the edge off.

Key lessons: Always be open to trying new things, and nothing wrong in indulging yourself in some guilty pleasures when you have earned it.

On Inspiration

The place of Conviction. Courage. Consistency

My favorite speech from the opening ceremony was from none other thanLord Dr. Michael Hastings of KPMG as he talked about the 3-Cs. This was apt as he presented to a room filled with over 5,000 entrepreneurs who daily look for and work on projects that focuses on social good, empowerment, and sustainability.

Every venture requires the individual involved to first have a conviction of the need for the undertaking, and then courage to forge ahead to execute. As the road will not always be easy, consistency is needed to keep at it and stayinnovating because as the President of Enactus said, solutions that work today may not tomorrow and thus the need to keep developing on existing solutions and gauging the impact they create.

Key lesson: Even though passion fuels conviction, it takes courage to go against all odds and consistency to deliver sustainable impact.

On Culture

Pharaohs can also be found in Mexico

The cultural fair was an amazing experience for me as I got to meet with a very diverse Enactus delegation — you could say I traveled to all 36 countries without leaving the room. Entertainment from the Chinese team was top notch and the room just had to love the folks from Egypt as they chanted in joyful noises — singing and drumming.


The Mexican delegation, not to be confused for Egyptian Pharaohs.

However, what caught my attention as I later found at the parade of nation is the similarity between the traditional attire from Egypt and Mexicoespecially with the golden adornments, although the latter have white linens to go with. It was also good to see China hold the claim as the Selfie-Nation — as I must have taken more than 100 photos during the cultural fair. Ireland did share some culture with the world at Beijing, including the River dance, and sports — Gaelic (Irish football) and Rugby.

Key lesson: We are all the same, and even those differences we recognize are only meant to make us better and thus should be seen as positives.

On Sustainability

<h4Step up or Get lost, eventually

No doubt sustainability is at the very core of everything Enactus stands for but it was good to see it more than just a buzz word. Every project had to think this way and those that didn’t were eliminated rather quickly. Perhaps most insightful was the need to look at the issue of sustainability as abusiness case and not just from a social good point of view; a company spearheading this is Unilever as I latter learned from a Top-To-Top forum.

Report: Check out the Unilever Sustainability Living Plan

This approach not only makes it viable for participating stakeholders, it also does attract more players into buying into new methods — path of least resistance as mentioned by the Global CEO of Walmart at the Action Leaders Forum. It’s very evident in China that fast-paced development has its price, especially on the environment and thus the need to step up and go for what’s best in the long term — and not get lost before being able to reap the many benefits that come with innovation.

Key lesson: To stay in the game you have to consciously think and invest on getting better at the game knowing you are not the only player on the pitch.

On Music and Fun

Sound and Light work Irish wonders

I got to experience the night life in the city of Beijing for two nights with Irish team and it was nothing short of amazing. I love to dance but have never met another culture in Europe and Asia aside the Irish that come close to what I expect from people on the dance floor. Only a few things do really unite the world irrespective of culture, religion, language, and other things that make us different, and one of such is music.

The song of the tournament was Aleo Blacc and David Correy’s version of Coca-Cola’s The World is Ours, and I never for one time got tired of dancing every single time the song came off the speakers; in fact you could see all 5,000+ people in the conference room got pumped as we danced and punched our fist in the air in affirmation. Other hit songs from the conference included Cold Play’s A Sky Full of Stars, K’naan’s Waving Flag(especially when it came on for the Parade of Nations), and surprisingly [a pumped version of] Higher Love, soundtrack for Ireland’s presentation video by James Vincent McMorrow.

On Winning

We are all winners when we make impact

It is a common saying that we are all winners at Enactus, and although every team would like to win the World Cup, my experience at this event did validate this saying. Not only was I impressed by every single project but was even more moved by the spirit with which young people from around the world committed to changing lives and taking lessons from other teams via dialogue and exchanging annual reports.


We came and left every bit as winners — Team Ireland

The team from UCD, representing Ireland did pitch the most talked about project throughout the conference. Not only was it novel, it solved two societal problems with one solution — Generation Accommodation. Little wonder did it make it to the finals — competing with projects from Puerto Rico, Morroco, and host nation China. For someone that had listened to the project being pitched over 20 times, I was still very much impressed and am really proud to have been part of it.

Key lessons: Same as those from winning the Enactus Ireland National cup

On the Future

Scale up every [positive] metrics

Where do we go from here as a team or even as an individual? After a week in Beijing and 3 days at the Enactus World Cup, the key message was to grow — in other worlds scale up every postive metrics including network, partners, revenue, profit, sales, customers, clients, knowledge, and most importantly impact.

As my journey with Enactus comes to an end, I appreciate the platform to the opportunities it exposed me to, and most grateful for giving me the chance to impact and change lives of real people for the better. It however does not end here as I venture on to continue doing so through other entrepreneurial actions. No doubt the team taking over will scale up theGeneration Accommodation impact and even come up with other amazing projects ahead of the next world cup in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Key lesson: In the word of David Correy, the world is ours.


Imagine the world as one with 7 billion stars — David Correy

About the Author: Nubi Kay’ is an internet entrepreneur and social media strategist currently doing cool stuff at Accenture Ireland. He is interested in all things mobile and digital — start-ups, media, brand experiences, and fintech.

Credit Photos: Thanks for the amazing collection at Unsplash.com

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