“Find a dream, make it real
Speak your heart, do what you feel
Say your peace, free your mind
Seek the truth, rise and shine”
That’s a verse from one of my favorite songs by The Script entitled, “Freedom Child” which powerfully reminds me of my experiences at the 2017 Global Youth Trends Forum: Youth Initiatives for Sustainable Development held in Taipei, Taiwan last October 24 to 31.
200 youth leaders from 16 countries meant more than 200 dreams for the world and it was irrefutably exhilarating and inspiring how all delegates were so passionate as they voiced out their ideas about sustainable initiatives for our common home. Whether through our formal sessions at the forum or over meals or snacks, I was more than glad and grateful to have exchanged dialogues with brilliant people from a wide array of cultures. The event was a plethora of rich and abundant ideas all aimed at generating solutions to pressing global issues and topics such as apathy, climate change, civic competence, or sustainable development.
More than the practical solutions raised by the different country delegations, I learned how vital and crucial the role of the youth is in creating prosperous and inclusive world for all peoples. As a young Filipino, I was deeply challenged by this and have repeatedly asked myself how I can actively and consistently participate and contribute to nation-building.
I believe that for progress to exist, it must always start from within. Not just within our country but more so within ourselves. However, I realized that this could only happen if each Filipino is empowered enough to maximize his or her own skills. And unfortunately, there are young people in my country who still don’t have access to education, basic necessities, or supportive and healthy communities. The forum helped me fully understand this reality and let me reflect on how solutions should always keep this reality in check.
For our country delegation’s forum presentation, we focused on the topic of civic competence in achieving justice with the theme, “Prioritizing the Person: a personal and shared responsibility.” We believe that every Filipino (and every person for that matter) has inherent and inviolable dignity, and therefore each person has a voice in society. If we recognize this dignity or worth, and if we focus on supporting our families and one another to holistically develop our children, our loved ones, and ourselves, progress might just be easier to grasp and even more naturally achieved. We believe that for young Filipinos to actively participate and engage in socio-civic affairs, persons, communities, the government, and the world, should recognize that we need to work together in making sure that the human person is the priority, and should be at the center of national and international policy. Delegates from other countries acknowledged our ideas and thankfully expressed their support to me and my co-delegates. It was truly encouraging.
The person is the greatest resource that we can ever have. More than half of the Philippines’ population is composed of young people. Just imagine the scale of impact we can witness if we only provide every person the basic necessities and opportunities where each one can flourish and maximize his or her skills. Just imagine how humongous the impact to our future can be if as early as now we instill in the youth the importance of valuing life and a person’s worth.
Every delegation had a cause to forward and what was greatly uplifting was the openness, solidarity, and support in the room. You know how they always say that to live healthily and to be driven by purpose, you have to surround yourself with people who share the same passion as yours? I couldn’t agree more. After this trip, I felt more motivated, rejuvenated, and fulfilled to firmly stand by my principles on making the world a safer, more hopeful, and sustainable place to live in.
I’m starting in my own country by promoting human dignity.
Written by Kleine Abrugena, a WYAAP Intern Alumni and Philippine delegate of WYAAP at the 2017 Global Youth Trends Forum