A genuinely amazing and inspiring moment at Shangri-La Dialogue: President Zelensky wearing a T-shirt made by Ava Soh, a 16 year old Singaporean designer I happened to meet a few months ago. Zelensky gave a powerful virtual Special Address to the Summit yesterday, winning lengthy applause from the audience. I must admit to a lump in my throat, not least given I watched sitting next to my old friend Dymtro Senak — now Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister, who had travelled from Kiev to be there — and Ambassador Kateryna Zelenko, who helped us set up the speech.
Zelensky began dressed in a t-shirt he’d been sent by Ava, part of a series of shirts she had made in support of Ukraine, which I saw in early May when visiting her studio. Zelensky used the t-shirt as an example both of the support Ukraine receives globally, but also how Ukraine wants to respond positively to this support.
I messaged Ava just after he started speaking to tell her that her shirt was on display in front of 500+ summit delegates, as well as two dozen defence ministers, including US SECDEF Lloyd Austin. She had no idea it was coming. A nice surprise — and a hopeful sign that if you do something to support Ukraine, it might make a difference.