Chang­ing mind­sets

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.AGE - by STAn­lEy liEW

Eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of a World Sum­mit Youth Awards’ win­ner.

One year ago, I would never have imag­ined my­self fly­ing half­way across the globe to new York in the United States. But there I was, an ea­ger bright-eyed Malaysian boy in the city of bagels, Yel­low Cabs, and Gos­sip Girl.

Then again, I had also not thought that the en­vi­ron­men­tal project I started with my school­mate, Amirul Shazwan, would win the World Sum­mit Youth Awards (WSYA). The WSYA is a world­wide com­pe­ti­tion that hon­ours young peo­ple who used the In­ter­net or mo­bile me­dia to sup­port the United na­tions’ Mil­len­nium Devel­op­ment Goals (MDG), a set of eight goals which aims to end world poverty by 2015.

Our project, called “Colour Me Green Cam­paign”, is a call to youths in Malaysia to start tak­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tion and telling their sto­ries through so­cial me­dia. Par­tic­i­pants in this cam­paign are re­quired to com­plete a range of tasks rang­ing from ex­e­cut­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal projects to im­ple­ment­ing new poli­cies within their schools.

The cam­paign was se­lected from 630 en­tries from 102 coun­tries to top the Go Green cat­e­gory in the WSYA. It was one of the 18 win­ning projects in the six WSYA cat­e­gories.

“These projects are not ran­domly col­lected. Rather, they are the re­sult of a global com­pe­ti­tion to find the best dig­i­tal, in­ter­ac­tive me­dia con­tents and ap­pli­ca­tions to cre­ate aware­ness of the MDGs, show ac­tions to­wards reach­ing these and demon­strate the con­se­quences of in­ac­tion of counter-ac­tion.

“The cat­e­gories of WSYA are tied di­rectly to the eight United na­tions (Un) MDGs and the ef­fec­tive­ness of sub­mis­sions to re­sult in ac­tion. An in­ter­na­tional jury of young ex­perts have done the eval­u­a­tion in two rounds,” said Peter A. Bruck, chair­man of the World Sum­mit Awards.

Win­ning the award gave us the op­por­tu­nity to go to new York dur­ing the Un MDG Re­view Sum­mit last month, where we were able to present our project to govern­ment and busi­ness lead­ers, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of civil so­ci­ety and an in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity world. Af­ter the event, I can safely say that I have a net­work in about 20 coun­tries.

“The best part was get­ting to meet the young and bril­liant brains who be­lieve in new me­dia tech­nolo­gies and are im­ple­ment­ing them suc­cess­fully in their com­mu­ni­ties,” says An­shul Te­wari from In­dia.

All the win­ners had a good time learn­ing about each other’s work dur­ing the four-day con­fer­ence. It was im­pres­sive to see the level of ef­fort and com­mit­ment put into their projects.

“I got in­spired by my fel­low win­ners be­cause they are do­ing hard work. Their ac­tiv­i­ties made me think about dif­fer­ent ways to make my work more ef­fi­cient in Mex­ico,” added Rafael Rivera from Mex­ico.

I left new York em­pow­ered know­ing that I’m not alone in my ef­forts, and that there are peo­ple out there too who care and who are not afraid to think big.

ev­ery­one saw an is­sue that needed to be ad­dressed and in­stead of sit­ting around com­plain­ing about the lack of ac­tion, took mat­ters into their own hands to change the world in their own way.

One might think that chang­ing the world would be an im­pos­si­ble task. It is, for one per­son.

Change hap­pens when ev­ery­one starts do­ing their part.

Stand Up

We took the MDGs to the streets on our sec­ond day in new York. The Stand Up rally was held at the Lin­coln Cen­tre to protest against poverty be­fore the Un MDG Sum­mit where world lead­ers dis­cuss goals they have set.

We dec­o­rated out shirts with slo­gans and made posters with cap­tions like “1.4 bil­lion un­der a dol­lar”. Yes, 1.4 bil­lion peo­ple are liv­ing on less than a dol­lar a day.

The turnout at the rally was lack­lus­tre but that didn’t dampen our spir­its as we did our bit to bring aware­ness on the need to erad­i­cate poverty.

The WSYA win­ners also vis­ited Bloomberg, a global me­dia com­pany, and Wun­der­man, an ad­ver­tis­ing com­pany.

“It was very in­ter­est­ing to see some of the win­ners present their projects and hear the ex­perts’ com­ments and ad­vise on how to im­prove the web­site ca­pa­bil­i­ties to at­tract a larger au­di­ence, raise aware­ness and make a greater im­pact with their projects,” said Anush Hayrapetyan, a WSYA win­ner from Ar­me­nia.

We pre­sented our project and were given feed­back on ways to im­prove it, like chang­ing

World Sum­mit Youth Award win­ners cham­pi­oning their cause at the Stand Up rally in New York. the web­site in­ter­face in a cer­tain way to en­hance user ex­pe­ri­ence.

There were also dis­cus­sion re­gard­ing the me­dia; where it is head­ing in the fu­ture and how me­dia com­pa­nies are evolv­ing to meet the pub­lic’s de­mand for more ac­ces­si­ble con­tent.

Net­work­ing

Our new York ex­pe­ri­ence was also valu­able be­cause we met like-minded peers who are en­thu­si­as­tic about mak­ing this a bet­ter world.

“I loved the fact that we could meet and net­work with some of the best minds in the q Stan­ley Liew and Amirul Shazwan are 18, and study at Kolej Tuanku Jaa­far, Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan. Visit http://www.colourmegreen­cam­paign.com/ to learn about Stan­ley and Amirul’s award-win­ning project. For­got­ten Di­aries (www.for­got­ten­di­aries.org) — For­got­ten Di­aries aims to raise aware­ness of youth liv­ing in such con­flict zones and also aims to em­power these young peo­ple to build a cul­ture of peace and non-vi­o­lence in their com­mu­ni­ties and start youth­led com­mu­nity devel­op­ment projects. JOIN In­formed Young­sters (www.join.org.mx) — JOIn In­formed Young­sters is an on­line mag­a­zine that al­lows Mex­i­can peo­ple to write pro­pos­als for im­prov­ing their coun­try. They talk about pol­i­tics, sci­ence, technology, and so­ci­ety. Afrique In Visu/Africa In Vi­sion (www.afriquein­visu.org) — Afrique In Visu is the first net­work and ex­change plat­form for pho­tog­ra­phers who are work­ing in Africa. They are based in Paris but their com­mu­nity is mostly in Africa. Anti Hivirus (www.vir.us) — This project if part of a world­wide on­line cam­paign. It is an ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram with the goal of re­duc­ing the num­ber of new HIV in­fec­tions. There are six an­i­mated episodes to ed­u­cate and in­form the pub­lic on HIV and AIDS. We Are All Laila (www.kole­nalaila.com/en) — This is an on­line, in­de­pen­dent, non-profit ini­tia­tive to em­power women in the Arab world. It aims to mo­ti­vate fe­males to speak up and ex­press their so­cial frus­tra­tions us­ing any lan­guage of form of ex­pres­sion they feel com­fort­able with, while also wel­com­ing men to take part in the con­ver­sa­tions.

Stan­ley (left) and the other par­tic­i­pants hard at work pre­par­ing for the Stand Up rally. The on­line en­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paign that won the World Youth Sum­mit Award re­cently.

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