UNAM Youth would like to extend the application for ONE SPOT of a fully-sponsored gender equality leadership workshop by The XX + XY Project to our registered members, only if s/he satisfies all criteria the XX + XY team are looking for.
About the XX + XY Project Established in 2016, the XX + XY Project is a collaborative effort that involves youths from Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand features a youth camp that aims to address two main issues:
Gender inequality present within communities,
Violence against women.
The Project seeks to encourage youths to initiate discourses relating to gender equality, educate youths on the topic via hands-on learning and empower them to turn ideas into practical initiatives and projects. nike air max 2017 grijs This project will select and train 12 promising young leaders, 4 from Malaysia, aged 18-24 to become passionate advocates of gender equality front through proposing projects to be executed within their communities.
30 participants, 14 nationalities, 7 projects, 12 volunteers and a global youth seminar hosted in Kuala Lumpur. Take the context out, replace the numerics, or change the location – the modus operandi is most likely similar for any training programs.
From the 30th November to 3rd December 2016, I was in-charge of making sure that the World Federation of United Nations (WFUNA) Youth Seminar is successfully hosted in Kuala Lumpur; its first in South-East Asia after previously graced by Jaipur, New York, Oslo and Buenos Aires. Texas Tech Red Raiders The rotational set-up is meant for a better distribution of training opportunities for the youths of WFUNA’s member countries.
The idea was to engage youth representatives who are members of their United Nations’ national associations. New Balance 998 męskie Participants are leveraged on their common interests and they are expected to brainstorm and implement their projects –however and wherever they prefer– based on the Sustainable Development Goal #16 for peace and security.
Our mission was to transcend youth idealism into activism, upgrade opinion leaders into community movers and to spark possibilities for cross-border collaborations towards a common cause.
Comparatively speaking, hosting 30 people may sound petty but the logistical, leadership and financial bearing remains a challenge to a youthful group of volunteers from United Nations Association Malaysia (UNAM) (visit www.unamyouth.com).
Personally, the process of leading this cause was also an interesting juncture of experience as I was in the midst of completing my admission to the Malaysian Bar in a legal firm at that time.
Juggling between the two was not easy.
While I had to lead a young team to implement our ideas for the youth seminar, I was also often in the receiving ends of my inexperience and legal naivety by my lawyer colleagues in a 9-month journey where long hours were spent on most weekdays.
Being both the leader and follower at the same time had given me an opportunity to diverge the two experiences and to self-reflect on what has been a roller-coaster experience of emotions and self-development.
Here are the three lessons learned that I can share:
1. Shape your team early
Be it in a legal firm or in running a youth organization, it is important for a leader to first define the talent and capacity of the team. I didn’t want to micro-manage and I needed the team to be on cruise control as I had little time to spare then.
I learned from this experience that the expectations of the leader must correspond to the capability and the pre-agreed commitments among the team members.
Taking in my observation of working in a law firm, I decided that the working dynamic of the hosting team was best served with a cocktail of talent, experience and scope of contribution. This was after taking into account the similarity of the nature of the demands to my day job; which has strict deadlines.
In terms of experience, I had cherry-picked my trusted Lieutenants from the people that I have worked with in the past mainly because I knew how their work ethics are like. I also value their inclination in poking holes to my ideas, especially if that’d help to solve the puzzle better.
More importantly, I was able to delegate some of the core responsibilities to them – which has allowed me to focus on more urgent matters such as fundraising and in designing the training module.
For a team averaging 20 years of age, it was fascinating to observe how capable some of my team members are in producing the “magic” when needed to; mainly in the areas of web designing, creative graphics, as well as in video and audio editing.
As the team leader, I’d usually have a rough idea on what needed to be done – except that I didn’t have the technical expertise to do all of them. Hence, it was only logical for me to get some help. San Diego State AztecsOver a span of a month, I had sourced the talents from an open pool of applications before interviewing them to identify their suitability to the merit of the team.
Throughout this process, I realised how eerily similar the set-up was to a law firm’s employment structure.
For example, while in my initial stage of legal traineeship, there were whispers of keeping ‘strategic’ individuals in the firm as a ‘business strategy’. Slowly, I began to notice how important to have what I call –‘the pivot’ – to generate opportunities for the firm.
Akin to how a couple of individuals can potentially bring more businesses to the firm than what talented and experienced employees could, I had also valued the specific contributions of team members that were taken in to do just that—creating opportunities.
2. Working with difficult people is unavoidable and is part of the necessary process
If you had not realised already, most of the established non-profit organisations, humanitarian bodies and youth organisations are managed by paid staffs and professionals. While the youth seminar itself was an outreach program to members of national UN associations, it was not coordinated on the ground by WFUNA’s paid employees, but by volunteers of UNAM who committed themselves to this cause out of passion and sheer grit.
Contrary to popular belief, organisational volunteerism does not magically materialise from empathy alone. This value has to be tapped from effective crowdsourcing of ideas, maestro-ed by focused leadership, and may possibly involve financial support for the activism to be sparked.
This was where the difficult part comes in; someone needs to get their hands dirty to get things moving.
In this case, our team members had to work extra hard to meet various individuals to secure funding, logistical support and relevant expertise.
Often times, the process was made difficult by bureaucracy and procedures—especially in a country like Malaysia where power-distance has always been a hindrance to productivity.
I can still recall the days when I had to spend half a day for a two-minute conversation to get a mere “yes”. Sometimes, we had to wait for weeks before a pre-approved plan is signed on paper for official purposes. This was especially difficult when meetings were planned without taking into consideration of the volunteers’ time and availability. Crazylight Boost Primekni While I had to squeeze my time between lunch breaks, several others had to skip classes at their respective learning institutions.
Meanwhile in a law firm, it’s notorious how demanding dealing with lawyers can be.
Coming out fresh from law school, I could only grow a thick skin while learning my ropes from the more experienced peers—whom probably went through the same process to be at the level where they are today. I was not in the position to escape the reality when my set of skills are limited to what I have learned from only thick legal textbooks and the four corners of my classrooms.
While working with difficult people is a challenge by itself, I realised that it was more challenging to recover our mental strengths to be stronger each time.
3. Communication is key to avoiding conflicts
Whilst in the process of designing the training module of the youth seminar, both myself and Pablo Angulo, a New York-based focal person of WFUNA, had different perspectives in our approach to train the participants.
Despite the geographical and time-zone differences, we tried to communicate as frequently as we could via numerous conference calls on Skype.
Although admittedly there were hiccups along the way, the impact was minimised as there was already a general understanding between WFUNA and UNAM, even as Pablo had to be replaced by another WFUNA trainer, Erly Munoz, due to last-minute unavoidable circumstances.
Erly had delivered her duty impeccably as our flow of thoughts had already been streamlined by detailed planning between Pablo and I, despite having never met each other throughout.
In a more demanding legal setting, at times instructions were misinterpreted due to my lack of experience and limited legal know-hows. The no-nonsense approach by our clients can at times heat up the dynamic of the team when it was only a matter of time before mental stress can override our usual characters.
I felt that this can be avoided by encouraging both vertical and horizontal communication everyday—no matter how limited our time was.
A more engaging team definitely helps in numbing the psychological impact of dealing with difficult situations. LSU Tigers Jerseys Relating this to my first point, it is also important for a leader (or employer) to manage his/her expectations and to react accordingly, rather than excessively.
If anything, it would have been better to have the sense of honour to our responsibilities rather than feeling forced to fulfil them out of fear.
Having been exposed to both approaches, it has been our practice in UNAM to listen to everyone’s opinions and ideas before deciding on the best approach to move forward.
I am glad that the youth seminar was successfully organised.
But it was a bigger success to have seen my youthful peers adopting the practice of communicating effectively in getting the best out of our potentials while working together.
A social-cause project initiated by Chemistry students of University Malaya with Litre of Light, Illumin8 will take place in Kampung Lapan Bidor, Perak. This project, which focuses on SDG Goals #4, #7, #11, and #13, is aimed to provide cost-effective solar powered lights to communities in Malaysia that have no access to electricity.
Illumin8 will be implemented on May 20th, whereby its volunteers will build 30 solar-powered lights out of 1.5L bottles, solar panels, PVC, and lightbulbs. Subsequently on May 21st, Illumin8 will travel to Kampung Lapan Bidor, Perak to install the lights.
For this project, UNAM Youth will be selecting 5 volunteers who will be trained to implement the project alongside experts from Litre of Light. The schedule of this initiative as follows:
Our 5 volunteers are expected to be involved on both days at all times. If you are interested to be part of Illumin8, kindly complete your application on https://goo.gl/forms/6hlDO8om1MsDagf13 before the 10th of May 2017.
Day in and day out, more often than not our life follows the same pattern albeit with hiccups along the way. At least for myself and many other Average Joes out there, the equation of life is as direct as “you win some, and you lose some”. Our daily routine demands us to repeat the cycle of labour to sustain our expectations on how life should be.
It is not uncommon for some to then self-reflect and ask ourselves: is this what the value of our life and education is for? When we are not spending time with our loved ones, we would at best self-gratify ourselves, be it through activities of passion, humanitarian work, religious devotion or with materials–which is necessary as elixir of life to compensate for this sedate feeling of pretentiousness.
By the end of the day, essentially human beings’ desire is just to be happy, or at least to be contented with life. The question to ask then is: what does happiness of life mean to a day-to-day citizen? In a larger context of discussion, what is the duty of governments to cater to this expectation of happiness that has been entrusted upon them by the people who have voted their politicians in?
Our infatuation to define how life should be based on quantifiable aspects, such as the GDP, or at simpler level–by how much money we have in our bank account, or how high of social and corporate position we can reach–almost always does not translate to happiness of life beyond the superficiality of things.
One may think that this discussion is at best philosophical, but this idea of life enrichment has actually been adopted by the state of Bhutan in 1971 to reject GDP as the only way to measure progress. Bhutan has championed a new approach to development which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness (GNH); which puts the well-being of its citizens in spiritual, physical, social and environmental health, and the natural environment, as its government’s priority.
It took 40 years–four long decades–for the world community to eventually consider and adopt this idea, with its first during the United Nations Climate Change conference in Doha. Realising that the world is now in a time-bomb of environmental and socio-economic self-destruction, the UN and 68 other countries had officially endorsed Bhutan’s call for a holistic approach to development. Following this high-level endorsement, a UN Panel has been established to replicate this method across the globe.
Many human rights activists had since argued that Bhutan is not exactly the example of the mythical Shangri-la that has eluded world citizens since time immemorial, mainly for its government’s past treatment towards the minority Nepali-origin citizens. Close to 100,000 of them were expelled from Bhutan to fulfill the King’s vision to have a “One Nation, One People” Bhutan; after tightening its citizenship laws in the mid-1980s.
A Singaporean Minister, Khaw Boon Wan, had also the said the same–although his view was more from the perspective of an economic and geo-political interest. Although the Bhutanese people are happy by their living standard, it does not mean that the responsibility of the government ends there. During his visit to Bhutan, he was shocked to see that–the very same people who are said to be happy with their life–are bereft of proper clothings, medical supplies, and emergency ambulance access to the hospitals.
I agree that there is truth in what was said.
Happiness cannot be understood in the isolation of self-contentment. We are no more discussing issues in the event of globalisation for our world is already globalised. There has to be a balance between overall growth of the country, the well-being of its citizens, and its involvement with the world community–which also means that each country has to live up to the universal standard of quality-living; such as the protection of human rights, economic equity (admittedly, economic equality is an impossibility), rule of law, and environmental protection, among others.
I do not have to elaborate in detail that the Scandinavian countries are best-known for the general well-being of their people, who are taken care of from top-to-bottom.
Sweden’s happiness approach, for example, includes additional measures to achieve global goals; such as the imposition of high taxes on carbon emissions, providing safe haven for refugees and political asylum, and an extensive welfare system that includes the interest of non-citizens. Sweden also provides high-quality free education up to the tertiary level, excellent affordable healthcare services, and a working environment that emphasises on work-life-balance–so much so that paternal and maternal leave are legal rights, in addition to 33 days of annual leaves guaranteed by the employees.
Comparing that to my case of only 14 days of annual leave in Malaysia, it begs a question if I am actually living an enriching and happy life.
Sounds too good to be true, eh?
The usual context that is backdrop against this Scandinavian happiness is none other than its high costs, which is trickled-down to high cost of living, a flat income tax rate and a top marginal tax rate for citizens who earn more than the average income in Sweden–at 56.9%. From the first glimpse of the figures, the political way looking at it is none other than it being expensive and unsustainable.
When discussed as a possibility for other countries to emulate, the favorite notion against such measures is that it would hinder productivity and can potentially bankrupt the country. However, the right attitude is for our leaders to not use presumptions to bring down proposals for a policy review, but to ensure that the entire machinery of the government is fully-utilised to look into the possibility of managing our resources efficiently.
The reality is, there is no one way of ensuring happiness for the people, although among the important considerations of living a happy life are rooted from universal values. No matter if it is the Singaporean, Swedish or Bhutanese model, each has its own outlook to ensure a contented living for its citizens–although not necessarily perfect. In fact, it will never be–so long as the concept of happiness is contemplated in isolation of other aspects that matter.
Taking a step back, however, we have to ask ourselves if there is a price to human well-being and happiness?
Did we vote in our politicians to run the country like a corporation in maximising revenues, or to manage the country’s resources for the benefit of the people?
Are the potentials of a country doomed if it decides to take care of its citizens and to protect non-citizens alike; which among other goals is to make them more positive and happy to live, rather than being depressive or suicidal about it?
This is why it is important for decision-making processes to be liberated from political, corporate and populist considerations. In fact, our leaders have to be convicted in making it possible for global goals to be achieved across political spectrum.
It may sound rhetorical for me to say this–but believe it or not, there are leaders out there who are visionary and adamant to bring changes for the happiness of the people, and not for any other stakeholders.
Our duty as global citizens then is to ensure that the ill-informed and the complacent are reminded that the choice to be happy, is always in our hands.
*The author sits on WFUNA’s Youth Advisory Council and is UNAM’s Youth Coordinator