‘JUST Luke at him go’ could well be a slogan for Luke Addison as he continues to realise a burgeoning career forged from a passion to help others.
Luke, from Woking, is the Rotaract representative for the Hampshire District and an aspiring entrepreneur moulded by Naked Leader’s ethos. He doesn’t just think about it. He goes out and does it.
The list of influential people Luke has met already reads like a who’s who of world peace and includes Desmond Tutu, no less. And Jody Williams, a 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner and American activist and Human Rights champion,
Having already assisted the homeless in Hampshire, and organised a highly-successful Peacejam Conference at his base at the University of Winchester – having first learned of the organisation in Monaco – Luke has been on his travels again.
He takes up the story: ‘I was lucky enough to be able to participate in the third Rotaract Global Model United Nations (MUN), held in Belgrade, Serbia, and attended by some of the most inspiring, and influential young people I have ever met.
‘The MUN is a concept that walks in the shadow of the actual UN, and provides young people the opportunity to see how the UN works and experience it for themselves. What this meant was, once accepted as a delegate, we were assigned a country and a council – Human Rights, Legal, Security etc – and then debated those subjects.
‘It is with this new information that you have to read that particular country’s policies, brush up on your knowledge of flags and the globe (it can be incredibly embarrassing when asked to point to your country on a map… so I’m told!) and prepare yourself to represent that country for the next four days inside the conference.’
From there on in, Luke was thrown in at the deep end. ‘I was assigned to represent Cuba, to be in the Human Rights Council and to learn Cuba’s policies towards the refugee crisis and then about privacy on the internet,’ he continues. ‘Yes, it was an ‘eyebrow-raising’ moment. I had two weeks to learn everything I possibly could about Cuba, its history, its government, the international relationships and its people.
‘My research was vast, I contacted a Cuban magazine (in Spanish!), watched documentaries, read books, spoke at a Winchester Rotary meeting and asked for any advice from any Rotarians who had been and of course, emailed the British Ambassador to Cuba, Tim Cole, who gave me excellent advice and has been very helpful.’
Armed with a wealth of knowledge and a boundless enthusiasm to succeed which has served him well in his life so far, Luke excitedly boarded his flight to Serbia and, arriving at his hotel, met the delegates, the atmosphere buzzing as people wanted to know where others were from and who they were representing.
Luke was in his element and enthused: ‘In the first hour, I met a Brit who had China, a Serbian representing France, a Mexican looking out for the USA, while Venezuela was getting spoken for by a Lebanese!
‘It’s fair to say the mixture of the group was amazing, not just in terms of countries representing inside the debates, but from where people were really from.
‘The organisers counted more than 35 different nationalities in one room at one time, and these are all young people from all walks of life coming together to actually discuss some of the most important current issues in the world.
‘Of course we were there for a good time too, but the responsibility of the participation was felt by everyone, not only because the UN would be actually reading our Solution papers, but also because what we were discussing in our groups were real issues, some of them costing hundreds and thousands of real lives, and for the first time, at least in my view, a group of young people had actually sat down and been asked for solutions to these problems.
‘Young people who have great ideas were given a powerful voice, and I think that was felt by everyone, from the first session to far beyond the end of the conference. It was essentially for young people, held by young people, and it worked perfectly.’
Each council was well represented, and all discussions and debates were enriching and genuinely impacting.’
Luke gained first-hand knowledge of just how serious the refugee crisis is in central Serbia and he explains: ‘Our group was actually taken to one of the camps and to see the people there, who we had just been discussing earlier that day, became so real.
‘Only a few times in my whole life have I been as silent as I was there, in absolute disbelief of the nature of what I was seeing.
‘In our second session, a young lady from Columbia, currently working in the Lebanese Embassy, spoke to us, and explained the refugee crisis from a point most of us couldn’t even comprehend. There are 2.7 million refugees at their borders, who aren’t allowed in because their country thrives from tourist economy. If they lose that they lose their country. It puts a different perspective on things and it’s hard for us to understand in the UK.
‘The great thing was, our direction was towards solutions and every single person in our room spoke about how to help these people.
‘We spoke of ways countries could work together, how collaboration was key and what we can do in our own home countries when we got back.’
Those plans are already in place, with Luke having made lasting friendships from people around the globe. With the MUN’s initiative to develop an organisation of young diplomats, the platform to discuss, debate and solve issues which affect people around the world,will be used to good effect. And Luke will be at the forefront of those plans.
‘I learnt a lot about myself and I realised the potential this can have on changing the way young people view the world, and on the way they are viewed by it,’ he adds.
Anybody privileged enough to have met this eloquent and driven young man will know he will make a difference.