19.10.2011 - Youth Drive Change - UNESCO Youth Forum 2011

Addressing ugly reality

UN Youth Champion Monique Coleman opens the Plenary on the Legacy on the International Year of Youth © Rajneesh Bhandari

As I sat through this morning’s first plenary session on the second day, I got so intrigued by the energy in our young speakers such as Ms. Spaïcy Bazile, a young musician and advocate for youth development in Haiti focusing on vulnerable youth and Mr. Andrés Villena, a young economist, columnist, blogger and activist of the 15M movement from Spain. (Sadly, Gigi Ibrahim, young journalist and social activist from Egypt couldn’t attend the forum due to personal issues, and was credited as one of the citizen journalists that documented news events using social media.)

I didn’t understand everything (did I need to?) that they said, and to be honest, I had to run around to interview many people for my voxpop. But I extremely admired their bravery to address their challenges and achievements before other youth coming from every part of the world.

Back in my country, Cambodia, youth are so skeptical about their power, their responsibilities and capability. The Arab Spring, the Spanish Indignants, the Occupy Wall Street, all of which are driven by social media have been repeated time and again over the past two days by high-level speakers and youth delegates at the Forum, and in each respect, lifted up the spirit of everybody. In other words, these phenomena have made young people believe that change is possible (if not around the corner).  Yet one shouldn’t debate too much and forget about acting, like what Paulo Coelho said in his video message sent to all the participants in the Forum.

There’s nothing to lie about here. I used to be one of the people who constantly asked myself “What can I do?” The change in how we use the Internet and how fast it mobilizes our civic power has gradually brought hope in me that nobody regardless the government, civil society and private businesses can get away with what they’ve done.

Read the full article here

By Kounila Keo

This article was written by one of the Youth Bloggers of the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum. The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of UNESCO.

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