Conversations, Leadership, and Youth

Blogpost Writer: Frans Astala


You know and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon.” – James Baldwin


These are the words James Baldwin wrote in a letter to his nephew more than half a century ago, being later published as part of his book The Fire Next Time. He was at the time, of course, referring to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. In the light of recent events and the racial tensions that have grown worse in the United States, the words have an eerie feel to them. If you just changed the amount of years passed would the quote still hold true?

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a day celebrated in honor one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th century.  A Baptist minister by profession, King ultimately became one of the best known frontmen of the Civil Rights movement demanding equal rights to everyone during a time when racial segregation was still the norm.

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However, the Civil Rights movement was more than only one man. How successful was it in achieving its goals? Recently the issues that gave birth to this movement have resurfaced in the public discourse, manifesting itself as a new public movement, Black Lives Matter.

In some ways you could look at the Black Lives Matter movement as a reincarnation of the Civil Rights movement. Both movements stand against the injustices of racism, both of them mobilize and unify, but also divide people. The bigger a movement grows, the more diverse it will become in thought, and the more opinions you have on what actions should be taken. Some say that today the issue has become politicised but most people agree that we should be able to talk about human rights without politics.

Even with all the ambiguity, one thing is for sure; the young generations want to see change and are ready to make it happen. The question is how to best channel all that will into something that will create impact. Everyone wants to voice their opinions but who is actually willing to sit down and listen? With the polarization we have today this is undoubtedly what the world needs.

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As a youth movement that wants to create a positive impact in the world, AIESEC is always looking for ways to address current issues through different initiatives. The YouthSpeak Forum, for example, is about providing a space for young people to discuss relevant issues in an inclusive way, bringing together many stakeholders, ranging from students to businesses, and trying to find solutions to challenging problems as one.

Times seem not to be favouring working together, but in the end change can only be brought through unity. Even if it’s hard sometimes, maybe for the sake of having a constructive conversation it is good to try to see beyond what you think a person represents, and actually listen to what they have to say. We can never know what mr. King would’ve said about what’s happening today, but his words are still relevant.


“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


 

 

 

2017: Here’s Four.

As the new year begins, so does a page unfold to a new chapter marking 365 pages of you and what you can do to make the best -and worst- out of this millennial age.

New-Year-Goals

  1. Typically, travel.

Be it for a week, six, or 40. Do it.

The notion of traveling abroad brings forth numerous layers to be discovered. Ibn Battuta, a medieval Moroccan traveler and scholar, said that travel leaves you speechless, and then turns you into a storyteller.

As millennials of the 21st century, the world is slowly becoming ours as a whole, where the boundaries and limitations of citizenship no longer stops us from exploring what’s beyond our territorial comfort zone.

Embark on a journey that combines adventure with volunteerism that contributes to the UN’s 2030 agenda of sustainable development, you become what we call in AIESEC, a Global Volunteer.

 

  1. Read more

I know, I know, it’s a typical suggestion often appealing to a few of us especially with the rise of the digital age, where stories go viral or are rather more interesting if they were in video form.

Knowing that millennials live in an an age where they compete to innovate, develop and grow and thus seeking purpose and meaning behind their work, reading comes as their fuel.

So for 2017, read more.

Reading books that range from classic novels, fiction and non-fiction, to political and cultural essays and management magazines, you’ll give yourself a boost in the following categories: self-discovery and self-assessment, memory improvement, smarter decisions, and most importantly less stress.

My personal recommendation:

- The Next 100 Years by George Friedman,

- A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

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  1. Participate: Your society, your government, your life.

One of the guiding principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is participation as a fundamental right. Today, movements to empower youth are bigger than ever, especially as the united nations is exerting major effort that includes the Not Too Young to Run campaign, launched by the office of UN Youth Envoy and the UNDP.

In AIESEC, we believe that we must engage young people and decision makers through cross-sector collaboration. Our youth movement is united for positive change. Through the YouthSpeak survey collecting over 160,000 responses, we are able to convert energy into action. We continuously invite youth to voice their opinion and have their voices heard, create an empowered society for positive impact, and  develop leadership through the development of their communities.

  1. Stay informed

Recent events ranging from the U.S. Elections, Brexit, attacks in Berlin and Istanbul, and the situation in Syria and Yemen amongst so many more atrocities our world faces today has brought forth an unfortunate phantom called ‘fake-news’.

As youth, driven change-makers, citizens of humanity, and most importantly the future of this earth, we have a responsibility to seek and challenge information to better understand the world that we will face every single day.

So choose your channel be it following social media feeds, downloading news apps that send you regular notifications, watching the news on TV or reading your daily local newspaper.

Journalist Rachel Shabi wrote [for Al-Jazeera] that propaganda is a part of war but that the media had been broken, unable to usefully analyze, report or inform.

Why is this important? My personal input is that, to develop leaders that are solution oriented and identify as world citizens, an important step is to stay informed. Because being interested in world issues and showing resilience in the face of challenges requires knowledge that is well-rounded and media that is well-consumed.

 

For a louder youth movement.

Speak up louder.

Make sure every single statesman and government representative has heard you. Make sure the sweat that has trickled on your forehead as you work long hours, the bags that formed under your eyes up late at night studying for your expensive degree, or the stress of searching and re-searching for innovative ways to tackle social issues in your community are worth it. Make sure that the time and effort spent arguing to have options for your own future count.

We are the largest youth generation in history, a generation powered by purpose. The power we have as one is indestructible because we are a generation that knows what they want, and how to achieve it. But there’s one small problem, easily projected in the youth voter-turnover in this year’s U.S. Presidential elections. Youth continue to hold the lowest percentage of voter-turnover in the United States, despite being the most educated generation in American history, and the most diverse demographic. We are a generation that isn’t moved by money but by a connection to what matters.

youthImageSome of the voters believe that might have found an alternative to the systematic structure of political rule in their nation, others followed a faith they had for a candidate or another. Regardless of the result, the revolutionary road towards freedom and peace might have just gotten bumpier, but the journey is not over. Because whether we like it or not, we can make a difference.

68% of over 160,000 young individuals (and counting), who filled the YouthSpeak Survey powered by AIESEC since last year, believe that the world is going to be better by 2030, with their biggest fear haunted by the lack of humanity, wars, corruption, global warming, and lack of resources.

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Despite a majority believing that influence is strongest when exercised by the government, 21% according to the YouthSpeak survey, believe that youth-led organizations have a dominant potential as well. You can’t just hope to will change, you must act to soar.

Imagine this, more than 1.8 billion young millennials are loud enough to break through the walls of bigotry and hatred. We bath in the shimmer of diversity, we are proactive and innovative to find solutions to support sustainable development, our eyes are drenched with the kohl of a resilient ambition for a better future. We understand what it’s like to feel stripped of choice because we don’t have enough experience, are not qualified, what do we know; equating our youth with naivety.  

Dr. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank said it best:

“…it is a pivotal moment in history which requires young women and men to be actively engaged in entrepreneurship, policy making and civil society movements.”

Youth will stop at nothing, and be stopped by nothing.

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We aim to reach 1 million YouthSpeak responses by the end of 2016. Speak up louder, because you can.

Fill the Youthspeak survey today: http://aiesec.org/youthspeak/

 

Why should youth care about the sustainability?

Exactly one year ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals. During this time the initiative Youth4GlobalGoals become one of most powerful movements towards the SDGs. The reach has crossed more than 120 countries and territories around the world.

According to the YouthSpeak Survey results, only 46% of young people know about the SDGs. However, they are the ones who will experience the consequences of implementation of the Goals the most. The level of engagement of young people in the Agenda today will directly result in the state of the world in 2030.

While majority (68%) believes the society will be in better state in 2030, young people still ask the question about who is responsible for implementing the SDGs. In reality, youth still relies on the public sector while it’s partnership between public, private sectors and civil society that will be a key to success this time.

Starting from the adoption of the SDGs, the United Nations has created The Lazy Person’s Guide to Save the World, which outlines kinds of small actions that will help to achieve the SDGs. AIESEC believes that each and every young person can play an active role in the Agenda.

Youth 4 Global Goals campaign was created to mobilise young people to take action towards the SDGs. It has a set of initiatives aimed to make people aware about the Global Goals, understand them and act:

  • Youth Speak Survey: the survey got 162,292 answers until today, engaging people across more than 120 countries. The result is the voice of Millennials giving an opinion about what SDGs they would act upon, what kind of motives and fears they have.

  • Youth Speak Forum: an event realized around the world that brings together young and senior leaders to form a space for inspiring conversations and creation of actionable ideas around global issues. In various countries governments and UN agencies have supported the event. The output taken from the Latin American version was presented in PrepCom3 in July that presents youth inputs to new Urban agenda. During the last 6 months event was run in 121 location engaging 23,500 people.

  • Youth Speak Projects: considering the insights got in the Survey, AIESEC is running the social projects around SDGs and Millennials needs. This is how a young person gets an opportunity to directly contribute to an issue he or she relates the most to, while developing the leadership potential.

Organizations like Asian Development Bank, PVBLIC Foundation and UN Habitat were the founding partners of the campaign and many more are joining the movement now.

To learn more about the Youth4GlobalGoals campaign, visit youth4globalgoals.org

Visit the website! Y4GG

Tanya Landysheva

Global Head of Public Relations

AIESEC

tanyal@ai.aiesec.org

Why AIESEC and The United Nations Are Working Together

As young people, we have the incredible opportunity to shape the future and influence a world we want this year. To get there, we must understand what’s already happening that will shape our future. 2015 is an important year. Why? 2015 is a year where the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) will be adopted by the United Nations, governments of the world, and act as a set of commitments that will define the next 15 years of global development.

Youth is a major priority for the United Nations. We need to realize that unless we take it in our hands nothing will change. It is on us to push leaders across governments to businesses to include young people in the decision-making process and to participate in creating a society that meets the needs of young people — 1.8 billion of us.

UN Youth Envoy

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said recently, “My Youth Envoy, Ahmad Alhendawi, says that young people drive change, but they are not in the driver’s seat. I agree – and I call for giving them the “licence” to steer our future.”

The history behind young people as a priority is guided by the World Program for Action for Youth (WPAY), a landmark agreement that was adopted by the United nations General Assembly in 1995 to provide a policy framework and practical guidelines for national actions and international support to improve the situation of young people worldwide. It covers fifteen youth priority areas and contains proposals for action in each of these areas.

To make this a success and push for further investments in youth and the implementation of WPAY, requires young people to actively participate in the decision-making and advocacy to help make the goals a reality.

This is where you, I, AIESEC and young people come into the picture.

In May, AIESEC is partnering with the Office of the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth to bring your voices into the conversation for the #YouthNow campaign month of advocacy. #YouthNow is a global digital and in-person campaign launched by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to elevate conversations around investment in youth development. We firmly believe that young people need to be at the center of the global development process. That means including your opinions in the discussion through initiatives like the global YouthSpeak Survey that seek to understand what the challenges young people face across the education to employment journey, raising awareness on the youth opinion, and how the SDG’s fit into your everyday life and shape the world around you. Every voice and every opinion counts.

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Engaging young people with world issues is at the core of what we do, and at the beginning of the year 2014 we wanted to ensure that young people are informed and aware of what happens in decision-making spaces like the United Nations — aligning  what we do with what the world needs.

We believe that it is our role as young people to take some of these issues and lead the change we want to see — that’s why we want to hear from you and engage with you for the #YouthNow campaign.

It’s been 20 years since the WPAY was launched. The #YouthNow Campaign aims to leverage social engagement coinciding with the High-Level Event of the President of the General Assembly marking the 20th Anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth on May 29, 2015 to reinforce and raise awareness of the importance of youth engagement in these issues, and to advocate for additional investments made by Member States for youth development.

YouthSpeak aims to enable young people to speak their opinions directly on issues that are affecting young people today. We are proud to partner with the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth to take your voices and those of youth around the world to the United Nations and to Member States for #YouthNow.

We see a very clear link between both movements–therefore we decided to use the YouthSpeak platform to make #YouthNow be heard.

We are happy to launch a video contest aimed at finding the BEST youth video on “Why youth development is critical for global development.”. Click the link below to learn more about the contest and how you can join!