Written by Fenya Sourla, Co-Founder/COO, Dataphoria, 2023 YTILI Fellow from Greece
April 2023 in San Diego marked a defining chapter in my journey, not just professionally, but in a broader sense of personal growth and global understanding. Selected for the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative, I embarked on an experience that blended my passion for sustainability with a deep dive into a vibrant culture. My engagement in San Diego centered around working with the City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan team. This collaboration was enlightening, introducing me to diverse, innovative approaches to sustainability. The team’s dedication to a greener future was not just inspiring but also resonated deeply with my own commitment to environmental stewardship.
semi-marathon, each activity reinforced my belief in resilience and the power of pushing personal limits. Community events, like the beach clean-up, offered a hands-on experience in environmental care, highlighting the collective effort needed for real change. These moments of connection with nature and people were pivotal in deepening my commitment to a more sustainable future. San Diego is a melting pot of cultures, and interacting with people from all corners of the globe at the San Diego Diplomacy Council events was incredibly illuminating. The rich conversations and exchange of stories with people from diverse backgrounds were not just enriching, they were transformative. These meetings expanded my worldview, enlightening me about the diverse ways in which we all, as a global community, navigate through life’s myriad paths.However, the essence of my San Diego experience transcended professional boundaries. The city unfolded as a canvas of athletic adventures and cultural explorations. From the thrill of surfing to the challenge of running a race of 5km in the
The natural beauty of San Diego was a constant source of inspiration. The hiking trails and ocean breeze served as a beautiful reminder of the precious world we are striving to protect. Iconic landmarks like Petco Park and Balboa Park were not just tourist stops but gateways into understanding the city’s rich heritage. The local cuisine was a revelation in itself. Sampling a variety of tacos and other local specialties was more than a gastronomic delight; it was a lesson in the importance of local produce and sustainable food practices. A notable experience was attending a city council meeting. Observing the democratic process and community engagement in policy-making provided invaluable insights into the role of civic participation in sustainable development. Reflecting on my time in San Diego fills me with a sense of gratitude and motivation. The journey was a tapestry of learning, connecting, and growing, both professionally and personally. San Diego’s commitment to the environment, its welcoming community, and breathtaking landscapes have left a lasting impression on me.
This experience is a reminder that our efforts towards a sustainable future are a collective endeavor, one that transcends geographical boundaries and unites us in a common goal. And of course, this experience would not be the same without my beloved YTILI fellows from all over Europe (Dani, Masa, Gio, Victor, Rens & Seba)! A group of amazing people to share this amazing city with!