I'm a sucker for inter-cultural learning. We're only on the 3rd day of a week-long youth climate leadership workshop for Eastern European, Russian and Central Asian organizers, and I can already envision 42 inspiring, passionate, strategic and hard-working leaders leaving the workshop empowered to spread the movement far and wide in their region.

Much of my work over the past couple years with 350.org, a global climate advocacy group I co-founded, has been to help develop our network of 5000+ organizers around the world into climate leaders. With the help of colleagues and friends in the youth climate movement and at places like NOI, I've developed curricula, recruited top organizers and helped build climate activist networks in places as diverse as Malawi, Khazakstan, Polynesia and Laos.

But amid the hectic logistics of keeping 42 leaders happy, healthy and engaged, these last three days have reminded me how the basic idea of building cross-cultural relationships is one of the key pieces of building a movement. Being in a room with people from 14 countries forces you to think outside the box about your campaign ideas and organizing principles.

Coming to the group with an open mind, I've learned from Chimge, a Mongolian organizer, how to talk to rural shepherds about climate change and involve them in the struggle. I've heard from Yuliya in Ukraine how to start a student climate movement under a repressive government, and I've learned from Pavel in Kazakhstan how to establish a political party that builds momentum for green urban renewal.

More than anything, I'm honored and excited to be friends with these inspiring leaders, knowing that they will go back home and have a network of support in the region where before there was none. If there were ever a doubt in my mind whether the time, effort and resources needed to pull off a regional workshop is worth it, it's gone now!

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