The Global Exchange in Leadership Initiatives (GEILI) held a two day Youth Summit at Li Po Chun UWC, Hong Kong, earlier last month. The summit was intended to be an avenue for GEILI fellows, leaders of various social projects around the world, to exchange and share their experiences with others. The event consisted mostly of workshops and presentations by some very interesting people. The other bits in-between were, in all honesty, a little disappointing, as was the rather chaotic organization. However, that shouldn’t detract too much from the fact that there were some very interesting people with some really cool stories. Here are a selection of those stories, ideas and presentations.
New dreams for a new century
A very memorable point made during a segment about Oxfam’s International Youth Partnership (OIYP) Program was that the current institutions of the world are designed to help us achieve the dreams of those who helped set up these institutions some 60 to 70 years ago. What we need now are new dreams, new ideas and new goals. Only then can we begin to build new institutions to help us achieve these goals.
Social Media for Social Change
I probably shouldn’t have been too surprised by this, but I was: some 80% of US media is owned by just 6 companies (News Corp, Disney, CBS, Warner Brothers, Viacom and GE). In any case, the point remains that a majority of news sources are erm…, not exactly independent. This is certainly a problem I’ve come across myself. As a result, I’ve added China.org to my Google Reader along with a host of more conservative op-ed writers. Individuals aside, Al Jazeera and the BBC remain the most neutral of international, comprehensive news sources currently available.
For those seeking to promote social causes using social media, here’s a simple 3 step process to do so:
- Identify your audience [Alexa.com might help]
- Shape your message; become an informed source and don’t be afraid to directly appeal for what it is you need
- Never forget to measure the response. Test what works and if it doesn’t, change it
Originally from Colombia, and a graduate of Columbia University, Mario Chamorro reminded us that “the darkest hour is just before the dawn”; our most difficult moments precede the best times. This was how he came upon the idea of Happy Post, an initiative where people are asked to draw or write what makes them happy. The intention, unsurprisingly, is to spread happiness and joy. Mario is living proof of the idea that the only way to know if an idea is good or bad is to do it and see. And meanwhile, we’re reminded that Happiness is contagious, empowers, is a cure and a key for social change.
If the workshop had title had been ‘hospital architecture’, I”d probably not have gone in. But, i actually found it quite intriguing. Henry Tsang was right when he said that a hospital is “like a small city” where life both starts and ends and which has virtually everything in it (a place for play, for sleep, for entertainment, for rest etc…).
Henry also introduced a little postcard project of his, which doubles as a way to make use of newspapers that would otherwise have been simply thrown out. All you need is an old newspaper, a postcard sized piece of card and a lot of glue. Just cut out anything in the newspapers that catches your eye and simply stick it onto the postcard. Then write a message on the other side and send it off. Here’s what I managed to put together:
Rainwater Harvesting in Nepal
The final workshop that I attended of the two day summit was held by Shweta, who just graduated from Middlebury. Her project is certainly a worthwhile cause, but what struck me most about it was how it so closely related to her hown personal story. I was once again reminded that life isn’t made up of disconnected numbers and ideas, but rather a web of stories, sometimes extremely personal stories. Sometimes, we just need to take the time to listen.
You can find out more abou the project to harvest rainwater in Nepal to benefit children and the community from http://www.cgiu.org/commitments/awards/2009/ under ‘Energy and Climate Change’. If you want to support Shweta in kind or donate to the cause, leave a comment below and I’ll put you in touch with her.