When we first discussed the prospects of inviting youth delegates from South Asia to attend the Annual Meetings, I must admit that I was initially ambivalent. However, the launch of More and Better Jobs in South Asia was imminent and it found that the region needs to create over one million new jobs a month over the next two decades to sustain employment for young people. How could we write about prospects for this group without hearing from them? With that in mind, we asked what More and Better Jobs mean to them and received an overwhelming response; over 11,000 application views and hundreds of exceptional applicants.
When the six delegates arrived, I was quickly struck by the intelligence, passion, and honesty that emanated from the group. Additional to the fresh, bold, and articulate ideas on employment themes such as equity, skills, and governance in their essays; they all took initiative for the betterment of their own communities with significant dedication and sacrifices.
Tashmina worked on improving employability skills at her university in Bangladesh. Tshering from Bhutan highlighted reproductive health issues. Sonal empowered young Indian girls with the gift of art. Subhash gave children in rural Nepal an opportunity to go to school. Shaiza raised spirits of children in Pakistan’s hospitals. Keshavi instilled leadership skills to young people in Sri Lanka. No longer ambivalent, I was inspired. I can confidently say that everyone who interacted with them were similarly struck by their incredible talent and energy.
In marketing, I learned that young people in different countries often share more similarities with one another in their tastes, preferences, and decision making processes than they often do with older generations within their own countries. Simply interacting with people of other cultures eliminated so many stereotypes and artificial barriers; it also made us realize that we share many of the same optimism as well as insecurities about what the future may bring. Even though it was a lot of work, we all had a lot of fun and became great friends.
For me, the experience reinforced the fact that all of us around the world do have similar aspirations; we are all eager express our views, share perspectives, and connect with like minded and passionate people around the world. We have the same potential as long we receive a bit of inspiration and encouragement along the way. Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back from realizing your potential.
Creating, sharing, and consuming ideas is what being human is all about.
With ideas in mind, I’d like to ask readers two questions that have been on my mind. Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
How could social entrepreneurship and volunteerism be encouraged among youth for them to make a difference in their communities?
How could rural, marginalized, and vulnerable youth best be reached?