“Chasing a Shared Purpose”: What the South America Business Forum is all About

@Daniel Bloch

The SABF aims to make a real contribution to sustainable development on a regional and global scale with meaningful “dialogue and interaction between the current and future leaders.”

In August, the 13th annual South American Business Forum (SABF) will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Motivated, capable, and innovative college students from around the world will come together to work alongside 40 global professionals from the fields of business, politics, and academia. The 100 students selected to participate, as well as the professionals in attendance, will take part in various seminars and workshops in a bid to achieve new visions, strategies, and plans to attack diverse issues within the realms of innovation and sustainability.

The aim of the conference is to “chase a shared purpose,” referring to sustainable development at the regional and global level. This goal will be achieved through meaningful dialogue and interactions between the leaders of today and tomorrow.

How to apply to the SABF

The application process is quite extensive. To participate in this exclusive conference, individuals are expected to show more than a high GPA. You’ll need a well-rounded resume and a strong transcript, as well as a real passion for the topics the conference deals with. This year’s applicants were asked a number of questions regarding their personal visions and beliefs with respect to innovation and sustainability.

The real hallmark of this particular application process was the essay section, in which applicants are asked to submit an original paper that they believed represented their unique opinion in addition to their capacity to think both critically and creatively. Although the essay topic had to be relevant to the conference, it was not limited to innovation and sustainability.

My experience

To complete my own application process, I decided to submit an essay that would demonstrate my capacity for critical thinking, as well as my ability to approach abstract, creative concepts rationally. My essay explored the concept of freedom in Western society: whether it’s being achieved and if it’s even attainable.

I argued that citizens in the West perceive that they are free, largely due to possessing a high level of autonomy in making personal decisions. However, these personal decisions are inevitably influenced by the many societal pressures and expectations. A small excerpt of the essay reads:

“Freedom in this sense is limited to a scope or spectrum. It is limited to our perception of freedom, which is bound by the walls of social expectations. Through human nature, we as individuals fix ourselves to the framework of social norms and status quo, and thus create boundaries for ourselves to make decisions within. Thus, rather than having absolute freedom, a maintainer of truth or everyday individual is only free within what society finds normal or acceptable. This once again is crucially not the same type of freedom that was initially defined at the beginning of the paper; but is this important? Does the fact that the people within a Western society only live under the perception of freedom actually matter? Or should we take the (satirical) approach of the infamous C. Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons, who suggests that ‘oppression and harassment is a small price to pay to live in the land of the free [the USA and its Western counterparts]’.”

I have very high expectations for the event, and believe that this conference can bring about significant, tangible change. With 100 dedicated university students from around the world, the SABF benefits from a diverse, cultured, and creative collective, who will be guided and inspired by 40 industry leaders.

On a personal note, I am eager to contribute my ideas and perspective to a wider conversation on sustainable and innovative solutions to current global issues. The chance to collaborate with such an incredible cohort of students and professionals will undoubtedly serve as a motivating and thought-provoking experience.

In addition to the exceptional chance to network, create new concepts and strategies, and gain access to a wealth of resources, the SABF offers me a unique opportunity to apply my own skills and understanding towards analyzing and approaching prevalent global issues, in an internationally-minded environment.