8TH UNIVERSITY SCHOLARS LEADERSHIP SYMPOSIUM
BUILDING LIFE GIVING HOPE
UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE CENTRE BANGKOK, THAILAND - AUGUST 1 TO 7, 2017
PG 10 - 1 1
What is USLS?
PG 24 - 25
A Purposeful Life
PG 1 2 - 13
Taking the Road Less Travelled
PG 26 - 29
Ending Hunger on Campus
PG 14 - 1 5
Creating a Better Tomorrow
PG 30 - 33
Making Water Accessible to Many
PG 1 6 - 17
Life Lesson for Young Leaders
PG 34 - 37
Helping Street Kids Start A New
PG 1 8 - 21
Grooming Champions of Positive Change
PG 38 - 41
In Cambodia with Love
PG 20 - 2 1
Courage, Commitment and Compassion
PG 42 - 43
Charting a Brighter Future
PG 2 2 - 23
Building Life, Giving Hope
PG 44 - 45
Youths Can Change the World
PG 46 - 47
Leaving No One Behind
PG 48 - 49
Ending Poverty Everywhere
PG 50 - 51
Advocating for Genderless Societies
PG 52 - 53
Maximising our Water Resources
PG 54 - 55
Combating Climate Change
PG 56 - 59
Understanding the United Nations
PG 60 - 6 1
PG 6 2 - 62
PG 64 - 6 5
PG 66 - 6 7
Decent Work and Economic Growth
PG 6 8 - 69
PG 70 - 7 1
Sustainable Cities & Communities
PG 7 2 - 73
PG 7 4 - 75
Live Below the Water
PG 7 6 - 77
SDG 15 - Life on Land
04 PG 78 - 79
What Lies Ahead for our Delegates?
PG 80 - 85
PG 86 - 87
A Tribute to our Sponsors
PG 88 - 89
The Feeling, The Emotion at USLS
OVERVIEW UNIVERSITY SCHOLARS LEADERSHIP SYMPOSIUM The annual University Scholars Leadership Symposium (USLS) is specially designed to give next-generation leaders an understanding of the world’s sustainable development challenges. Promising youth leaders from institutes of higher learning are equipped with the knowledge and skills to kickstart meaningful initiatives. During the symposium, they are given the opportunity to put their passion to practice. Through talks by motivational speakers and humanitarian movers and shakers, USLS delegates are encouraged to realise their potential as agents of change. The 8th USLS was organised by Humanitarian Affairs Asia and the United Nations Development Programme, with 10 other United Nations agencies as strategic partners. It was held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand from August 1 to 7, 2017. The theme of this year’s symposium was “Building LIFE, Giving HOPE”. As many as 907 youth leaders from 78 countries came together as citizens of the globe. They spent an unforgettable week learning, sharing and forming tight bonds, before leaving with bright hopes for the future. For the first time, delegates could speak to representatives from United Nations agencies, which put up an exhibition at the symposium. Many were keen to work with – and even for – the UN. On Service Day, delegates were split into groups, which carried out initiatives for different Thai communities. These initiatives revolved around the sustainable development goals. Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu famously said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” For many delegates, the USLS is that first step to a lifetime of service leadership. Only by looking at challenges with fresh eyes do they find that they have the power to change the world.
WHAT IS USLS? The University Scholars Leadership Symposium (USLS) focuses on building leadership qualities among youth, to mould them into dynamic future leaders of the world. The annual symposium is organised by Humanitarian Affairs Asia, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme. The 8th edition was held at the United Nations, Bangkok, from 1st to 7th August 2017. More than 900 delegates attended the symposium, with the theme â€œBuilding Life, Giving Hopeâ€?.
How Would it Help Future Leaders? Future leaders are strong, capable and determined individuals. But, they still have a lot to gain from interactions with other leaders from around the globe. USLS delegates will meet other like-minded individuals who are keen to build a better world. Being immersed in a mix of cultures and backgrounds is an experience in itself. All our delegates leave the symposium with meaningful takeaways. It could be a piece of advice from an esteemed speaker, a collaboration with a fellow delegate or simply, the push to put your ideas to action.
What Does It Mean To A Young Person? When a young person has the desire to change the world, the next steps can be daunting. Colossal issues like climate change, hunger or inequality may seem too overwhelming for an individual. At USLS, delegates will hear from speakers who have put their fears aside, and started incredible initiatives of their own. They will be given opportunities to speak, discuss and question. Delegates will also get a better understanding of UN agencies, programmes and systems. They will gain an understanding of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the international community is working towards achieving by 2030. USLS is a positive, enriching and motivational experience for youth, who may be feeling uncertain about their humanitarian pursuits.
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED She was set for a cushy life on Wall Street. But, Ms Valerie Cliff followed her heart and discovered her true passion. Today, she is UNDP’s Deputy Regional Director for Asia & the Pacific, and the Director of its Bangkok Regional Hub. Armed with a degree in economics, Ms Valerie Cliff was a high achiever. She got a job at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the central bank of the United States, in Washington, DC. Then, she worked on Wall Street. To top it off, she received an acceptance letter from Harvard Business School. She had eight months before the graduate school term began. “I was satisfied with my career prospects and by societal standards, I was considered successful. But, I felt there was something missing,” Ms Cliff shared. “I wanted to live abroad, meet people from other cultures and do something meaningful. Something that wasn’t just profit oriented. I could have kept working on Wall Street, earning more money to pay for my graduate degree. I decided to volunteer instead,” she added. She went to Peshawar, Pakistan, and taught English to 18 Afghan refugees. The extraordinary experience made her want to pursue developmental work. So, Ms Cliff was thrilled to hear about UNDP, which held recruitment events at Harvard Business School. “It was as if I found my home away from home. I found the organisation that was right for me,” she quipped. She is currently the organisation’s Deputy Regional Director for Asia & the Pacific, and the Director of its Bangkok Regional Hub. “We have extraordinary challenges ahead of us. Climate change, the fight against inequality, trying to alleviate poverty, combating violent extremism, just to name a few,” Ms Cliff said. Its work in the region includes partnering with China’s Baoshang Bank, to implement an initiative focusing on youth leadership, innovation and social entrepreneurship. In Thailand, UNDP worked with partners to establish the Thai Youth Anti-Corruption Network. The student-led group comprises of more than 6,000 students from over 90 universities. “They have carried out powerful advocacy campaigns and initiatives, such as the ‘Refuse To Be Corrupt’ café project,” Ms Cliff said. That’s a great example of how youth can contribute to society. “It’s often said that young people are the future. Well, young people such as you are also our present, she told USLS delegates. “I hope you strive every day to make the world a more equal, peaceful and sustainable home for all of us.”
Creating a Better Tomorrow The SDGs should not be seen as a competition between countries. It is a global call to action, which starts with brave individuals, said Ms Deirdre Boyd, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Thailand. At a village in Rajasthan, India, some people knew that their elected official was corrupt. They couldn’t get any traction. No one was listening to their complaints. So, they started to write, compose and sing songs that exposed him. “The songs became very well known and they got rid of the corrupted official,” said Ms Deirdre Boyd, the UN Resident Coordinator for Thailand. “There are many success stories. Join together, keep on fighting and find the right avenues,” she advised. In many countries, small actions like this create a better world. Youths can lead the charge with their creativity and resolve. Recognising this, the UN regularly appoints an Envoy on Youth, so their perspectives are reflected across the organisation’s work, Ms Boyd shared. “More and more, young people are promoting peace. They are proposing innovative solutions and launching effective grassroots campaigns. Nobody does it as well, or as creatively as you do,” she noted. Globally, there are 71 million unemployed youth. Around 33 million live in the Asia-Pacific region. “This points to a mismatch between what education systems are producing, and what employers are looking for,” Ms Boyd said. Still, 83 percent of youths have never spoken to public representatives, who represent them in Parliament of the local government. That needs to change. Every year, member states attend the UN General Assembly in New York. They are encouraged to include youth representatives in their official delegations. Young people should jump on the opportunity to get involved, Ms Boyd said. They can also help their countries meet the 17 SDGs. Unlike the earlier Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs do not focus on national averages. Instead, it looks at how remote areas or minorities are doing too. “If you look at the SDGs as a race, you are not getting the best picture. For example, countries like Chad and Mali did not meet the Millennium Development Goals on maternal mortality,” Ms Boyd shared. “But, they started from the bottom. The progress that they made was impressive.” SDG 16, which promotes peaceful and inclusive societies, is her personal favourite. “If we do not build inclusive societies where everyone has the same opportunities, irrespective of gender, income level or country of origin, we are not going to achieve everything else,” Ms Boyd quipped.
Life Lessons for Young Leaders Mr Martin Hart Hansen, the United Nations Deputy Resident Representative to Thailand, spoke at the USLS closing ceremony. Alluding his duty to that of a commencement speaker, he had 11 pieces of advice for delegates. Getting a job at the United Nations was an adventure for Mr Martin Hart Hansen. The vacancy was in Bhutan – a country he had to locate on the map. Still, he jumped on the opportunity to work as a Junior Programme Officer with UNICEF. The passion to serve has since taken Mr Hansen, who was born in Denmark, all around the world. In Lucknow, the Indian capital of Uttar Pradesh, he was involved in the fight against polio. It paid off. In 2014, the World Health Organisation certified India as a polio-free country. Among other countries, Mr Hansen has worked in the Maldives, Nepal and New York. Today, he is the United Nations Deputy Resident Representative to Thailand. Contrary to what many may think, uncertainty plagued Mr Hansen’s undergraduate years. He was not passionate about economics, and was thinking about studying medicine instead. “Lo and behold, in my final year, the world opened up through development and environmental economics. I actually found my passion, and I decided to stick with it,” he shared. Here are 11 life lessons he imparted to USLS delegates.
Always Smile Mr Hansen always reminds himself to smile more, even in the face of disappointments and disasters. He encouraged the audience to do that same. “You’re smiling not because it’s funny, but because the smile just opens up the conversation and opens up hearts,” he advised.
Don’t be Limited by Your Education Although Mr Hansen studied economics, he uses less than 5 percent of that knowledge at work. “It’s more about skills for problem solving, being rational, and having the right mindset,” he said.
Find Your Passion Do what you love, because it will keep you motivated. “I honestly have very few bad days in my career because I love what I do. If it is at all possible, you have to strive for that,” Mr Hansen reflected. “It will allow you to wake up every morning and be excited to go to work.”
Have a Plan Think about where you want to be in five or ten years time. Then, craft a plan by working backwards, Mr Hansen suggested. Factor in the time needed for education, additional training, and networking.
Keep the Plan Flexible Few people expected Brexit, and Mr Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign. Don’t be afraid to change your life plan “because the world changes, and sometimes you just have to change with it,” Mr Hansen told delegates.
Stop Predicting the Future Humans can be book smart and knowledgeable, but we can’t predict tomorrow. “So don’t waste time predicting the future, or trying to predict the future. Instead, do whatever you can to create the future that you want,” Mr Hansen said.
Be Proud of Failures Take a note from the entrepreneurs at Silicon Valley, who typically have several failed business ventures behind them, Mr Hansen said. “They learn from every failure. Use your failures to move yourself forward,” he added.
Share Your Ideas Mr Hansen urged delegates to bounce ideas off friends, or others in their communities. “You have to share them. Because brewing in your mind, they will never become anything,” he explained. “And don’t be afraid that someone may steal them. Because they are your ideas. No one has the same passion and belief.”
Build Unlikely Partnerships Look around the room, and find someone that you have the least in common with. That could be the start of a good partnership. “Don’t start mingling with people who have the same ideas and mindsets as you. Because you’re just going to reinforce each other, and you won’t learn anything,” Mr Hansen shared.
The Team Matters “If you have an amazing team, you can tackle almost any issue,” Mr Hansen said. For this reason, venture capitalists may like an idea, but they invest in teams, he elaborated. Should an idea fail to take off, the same team could work on another.
Stay Humble and Bold Don’t brag, but know what you are capable of. Reach for support and partnerships, Mr Hansen advised. Two of the communities that delegates visited during Service Day received support from the United Nations Development Programme, to conserve mangroves and aquatic ecosystems, he said. A similar initiative in Phuket recently won the global Equator Prize. “Local initiatives are making a global impact. So ask. Be bold,” Mr Hansen concluded.
Grooming champions of positive change USLS allows the young to experience other cultures, gain life lessons and start changing the world, said Dr Watanaporn Ra-Ngubtook in her opening speech.
The future of the world lies in the hands of the younger generation, said Dr Watanaporn Ra-Ngubtook, Secretary-General of the Thai National Commission for UNESCO. They can contribute heavily to the United Nation’s landmark 2030 agenda and the achievement of its Sustainable Development Goals. “They have a very important role to play in changing the world. Young leaders need to have space to participate in the translation of the agenda, to build a better world with no one left behind,” she added. Dr Watanaporn was a guest speaker at the 8th USLS in Bangkok, Thailand. She is also the Deputy Permanent Secretary of Thailand’s Ministry of Education. In welcoming delegates to the City of Angels, she noted that education can help one acquire 21st century skills, and a philosophy of life-long learning. Thai institutions are hoping to instil these in their students, as it encourages them to start sustainable initiatives and transform their communities, Dr Watanaporn said. “Students will develop cognitive skills and other skills for critical, creative and innovative thinking, problem solving and decision making. Emphasis is also given to the enrichment of knowledge,” Dr Watanaporn elaborated. Only then, will young people be able to “cope with the continued challenges and unpredictable problems they will inevitably encounter in their lives,” she said. Platforms such as USLS are a good way for young people to meet, network and be inspired by other changemakers. The symposium, which is in its eighth edition, was attended by over 900 delegates from 78 countries. “I would like to congratulate Humanitarian Affairs and its partners that provide this multicultural platform, where young people from different cultures may be equipped with leadership experience and life skills, so that they become excellent global citizens,” Dr Watanaporn said. “I strongly believe that the outcome of this symposium will suggest ways on how the young generation can make a crucial contribution to the progress of their communities, countries and the world.”
Concern, Courage and Commitment These are values that young leaders should uphold, said Mr Kim Solomon, Secretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs UK. He encouraged delegates to learn from UN representatives and one another. A room of young people is brimming with potential. That is what Mr Kim Solomon, Secretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs UK, loves about USLS. Still, it all comes to naught if delegates don’t put their aspirations to practice. “Every year when we organise the symposium, we have many young people who come and want to do things. But, when you go back to your hometowns, some of you forget why you’re here,” Mr Kim said. “So from today, please write it down on a piece of paper. Remember that any improvement starts with yourself. If you can’t improve yourself, you can’t improve society,” he added, drawing on the vision of Mahatma Gandhi. Welcoming the audience to the United Nations, Mr Kim thanked the symposium’s co-partner, the United Nations Development Programme. For the first time, delegates can speak to representatives from 11 UN agencies, which exhibited at the symposium. He also had key questions for delegates. Were they keen to work at the UN? What do they know about its initiatives for youth? Most importantly, do they want to improve the world? “When you want to work in any agency, whether in the UN or in any NGO: Do not be too eager, go into the organisation and try to change things overnight,” Mr Kim advised. “Change doesn’t take place in 24 hours. It takes time. You must always commit to your cause. Be committed to the task that you have promised to do,” he added. Besides commitment, young leaders should strive to practise two more ‘Cs’. They should be concerned about the world around them. They should also have the courage to do what is right, even when their friends take different paths, Mr Kim said. “You come from 78 countries. But when you come to the UN, we don’t put your country (on the table signage) because you are all global citizens. The world belongs to you. We are here, united as one, to serve,” he rallied.
Building Life, Giving Hope Expanding on the theme of the 8th USLS was Ms Janice Leong, the Regional Director of Humanitarian Affairs Asia. She urged delegates to take responsibility for the world around them, and help those in need.
During the application process, everyone was asked: Why do you want to be a delegate at USLS? Ms Janice Leong, the Regional Director of Humanitarian Affairs Asia, was heartened by the response. “Many of you simply wished to build a better world. ‘Building Life and Giving Hope’ to the people in need is the work of all, and for all generations. The generation of builders, baby boomers, Generation X and millennials,” she elaborated. “Today, I want to focus on you, the millennial generation. The most educated and technologically savvy generation. The future belongs to you,” Ms Leong said. Many people have been left behind, even in developed countries where millions of old jobs have disappeared and new ones are not within the reach of many young people. Youth unemployment, organised crime and trafficking have become global issues, she added. According to the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, there are 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24. This is the largest youth population ever. It is also worth nothing that the majority live in developing countries. Too often, many young people see their potential hindered by extreme poverty, discrimination or lack of information, Ms Leong said. “But with proper investment in their education and opportunities, these young people’s ideas, ideals and innovations could transform the future,” she shared. Ms Leong encouraged delegates to embrace the diversity of USLS, collaborate and build a better world for all. After an eventful symposium, she took the stage again with some final words for delegates. “All of us here have to be responsible for those who have no shelter, food and education. We are privileged for we have a roof over our head. We are privileged for we not only have food, but the choice of what we eat. We are privileged to have quality education,” she said. “Now think about those who have none. Always be grateful. Always count our blessings and keep the human spirit of not giving up.”
A Purposeful Life Life is more than wealth or approval on social media. It is a personal conviction to be better every day. International motivational speaker Simerjeet Singh had some tips for USLS delegates. Think of people who have made a difference, from Mahatma Gandhi to Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai. These leaders have things in common: They are purposeful, driven and authentic. Instead of fitting into a mould, they stood up for what they believed in. In contrast, many youths are calculating their self-worth based on the number of ‘likes’ they get on social media, said Mr Simerjeet Singh, an international motivational speaker and performance coach. “You are much more than the carefully cultivated personality that you display online. And it’s when you begin to discover that much more, when you begin to disregard... what are other people going to think about this – that is when you truly get in touch with what is really inside you,” Mr Simerjeet shared. “The world needs your authenticity. People who’ve made a difference have always been the ones who listen to their inner voice,” he added. The inner voice is the whisper that tells you what is right and wrong. It is also the force that nudges you towards a greater purpose in life. To find that purpose, Mr Simerjeet encouraged USLS delegates to re-examine their priorities. He conducted a minutelong activity, which required them to scan the auditorium for the colour green. There were three conditions. Delegates had keep searching for the colour, look for it in the least obvious places, and find as much green as they could. At the end of the activity, delegates reported that they had found the colour in many places, including unexpected ones. “When you are on purpose, your mind filters out all the external stimuli. Everything that you need to achieve your goal becomes relevant, and everything that is not helping you to achieve your goal will go into the background,” Mr Simerjeet explained. A clear goal is much like an internal GPS system. “If you want to change the outcomes in life, you must change your priorities,” he summed up. Then, Mr Simerjeet asked delegates to close their eyes and point north. When they opened them, they realised that they were pointing in different directions. “Comparison is a thief of joy. Your gift is unique and special to you. Stop comparing it with others and be true to yourselves,” Mr Simerjeet advised. “Follow your own little calling. I have my own interpretation of what my true north is. And as long as I am in harmony with my true north, that’s fine,” he said.
Ending Hunger on Campus Ms Rachel Sumekh was just a student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). That did not stop her from tackling the pervasive issue of hunger in American schools. Swipe Out Hunger has provided more than 1.3 million meals to date. Most college students, who dine on campus, have a prepaid meal plan. Unused credits usually go to waste. Understanding this, Ms Rachel Sumekh came up with an ingenious plan to tackle hunger. Using the credits, she bought food and gave it to the hungry. Ms Sumekh designed a poster, roped in some friends, and encouraged other UCLA students to do the same. They set up a food collection point outside the dining hall. In the first week, 300 meals were distributed both on and off campus. The excitement wore off when a school administrator gave them a stern warning. But, Ms Sumekh and her friends did not give up. They talked to professors and the student union, and reckoned that UCLA was concerned about food hygiene and extra labour costs. After that, we “came to the table and spoke the same language that the administrator spoke,” Ms Sumekh told a full auditorium of USLS delegates. “We sat through months of negotiation until we were able to come to an agreement. And, this agreement was way better than the programme that we had originally established,” she added. Thanks to the 2010 partnership, UCLA students can donate unused credits on their meal plans. These are used to purchase large quantities of food for the hungry. Swipe Out Hunger, which was then known as Swipes for the Homeless, distributed thousands of meals. In 2012, the non-profit organisation received an invitation to the White House and was named a “Champion of Change”. That same year, the University of Southern California, UC San Diego and University of Texas adopted the programme. Many other universities were keen to start. “It was a huge moment for us to realise what we were doing went beyond ourselves. It went beyond our campus, but it was tapping into something larger,” Ms Sumekh said.
Growing Pains Expanding in size meant that Swipe moved away from relying on volunteers alone. In 2013, Ms Sumekh became its first employee and CEO. It has three full-time staff. At first, the organisation put together a 20-page manual as a guide for other schools. This was tedious for readers. “To this day, we are constantly re-examining the way we teach people to start our programme,” Ms Sumekh reflected. In the following years, Swipe faced another challenge. Despite its best efforts, more people were hungry across the world, due to systemic issues. So, Swipe decided to focus solely on campus hunger in 2016. In institutions across California, one in four students regularly skipped meals because they couldn’t afford food on campus, Ms Sumekh said. She recognised that more diverse groups of people were going to college, but colleges were still figuring out how to support them. “Imagine trying to go to class when you’re hungry. How can you focus? You can’t survive off ramen noodles. You can’t survive off a peanut butter and jelly (sandwich) every single day. It’s not sustainable,” Ms Sumekh explained. By focusing on students, Swipe’s impact goes beyond meals. “When you get a degree, the amount of earnings that you make in your lifetime... triples. In some countries, it quadruples and even more,” Ms Sumekh said. “We’re helping people graduate, get jobs, and hopefully lift their communities and their families out of poverty,” she added.
A Wider Impact Assemblywoman Monique Limón, who used to be a professor at UC Santa Barbara, approached the Swipe team last November. She witnessed hungry students falling behind in class. AB 453, a Hunger-Free Campus Bill, was subsequently passed by the local government. A sum of US$7.5 million was allocated to support the bill. Universities in California now receive funding for programmes that address hunger on campus. That’s a huge step forward for Swipe. Key to its success is the fact that Swipe is modelled after the starfish, Ms Sumekh said. Like the organism, which has the ability to regenerate its arms, chapters of Swipe run programmes independently. They don’t take orders from an executive board or full-time staff. “What we learnt as an organisation... is that people on the ground have way better ideas than we do,” Ms Sumekh said. “As you grow, do not forget that you were once that student, and those students today probably have good ideas as well,” she advised.
How a Student-Led Project Grew Ms Sumekh and her friends buy food for the needy with unused meal credits. They encourage other students to do the same, and hand out 300 meals.
Swipe doubles in size and wins the Rishwain Social Entrepreneurship Award.
Partnership with UCLA's Dining Services allows students to donate unused meal credits, which are pooled together to buy and donate large amounts of food.
Swipe shifts its focus to hunger on campus.
Swipe is invited to the White House by former American President Barack Obama and named a ÒChampion of ChangeÓ. University of Southern California, UC San Diego and University of Texas adopt the programme.
Swipe hits the milestone of having provided 1 million meals.
The local government passes and allocates US$7.5 million to support AB 453, a Hunger-Free Campus Bill. To date, Swipe has distributed over 1.3 million meals.
Making Water Accessible to Many Growing up, Mr Ryan Hreljac never had to worry about clean water – it was always close at hand. Today, his non-profit organisation raises funds and installs wells for communities that are not as lucky. Clean water is essential for life. But, almost a billion people in developing countries don’t have access to it. The situation would befuddle most six-year-olds in Canada. So, their teacher tried to explain that some children in Uganda were dying. Many couldn’t go to school, because they needed to draw water from a well, which was far away. It was a 5km walk, or roughly 5,000 steps. The number struck Mr Ryan Hreljac, even though he couldn’t count that high. “I counted the steps that it took to get from my classroom, to the water fountain. And, I counted 10,” he recounted. Soon after, students were asked to raise money for a school in Uganda. CAD$2 would be enough for a notebook. CAD$5 would pay for lunch. The last item on the list was also the most expensive – a CAD$70 well. Mr Hreljac, a quiet boy who spoke with a stutter, raised his hand. He had planned to ask his parents for the money. After all, it would go towards a good cause. Surprisingly, his parents refused. “They thought I was doing the same thing (as other six-year-olds). I would forget, and I would move on,” Mr Hreljac said. “But, every time I had a drink of water, I reminded myself that kids my age couldn’t go to school because they didn’t have clean water. And, it felt like such an injustice to me that I kept on pestering my folks about it, again and again,” he added. That was when his parents came up with an ingenious proposal. Mr Hreljac was already clearing his table, making his bed, and doing the dishes. For extra pocket money, he could take on more chores, such as vacuuming, cleaning the windows and shoveling snow. The money could go towards paying for the well. After four months, Mr Hreljac had CAD$70 in a cookie tin. Because the school fundraiser was over, he approached an organisation in Ottawa, which builds clean water wells in developing countries. To his dismay, he only had a fraction of CAD$2,000 – the true cost of a well. Still, Mr Hreljac did not give up. He did chores for his parents, and neighbours. He gave a presentation in class. Mr Hreljac also organised a Pokémon card raffle fundraiser. “I think from that point, it became less of my project and more of my community’s project, because I was able to share what I cared about with the people around me. People were able to gravitate towards it,” he explained.
Ryan’s Well Subsequently, the well was built at Angolo Primary School in Uganda. It was the school’s first clean water source. Attendance doubled from 700 to 1,400 students. As a result, many students at Mr Hreljac’s school were given writing buddy in Uganda. Mr Hreljac was paired with Jimmy. Jimmy used to get up at midnight, to walk 5km to another well with two jerry cans. He would fill them up, walk home, and make two more trips. “Then, I would have the privilege to go to school,” Jimmy said. Thanks to the new well, Jimmy could go to school, and ferry water home at the end of each day. “The fact that he was actually able to stay in class, get an education and pay attention made the world to him,” Mr Hreljac said. “I don’t have a smile that lights up on my face because I can have a shower in the morning, or a glass of water,” he added. “So to see something that I considered so small and negligible, have that much of an impact on somebody’s life, gave me the perspective and motivation to keep on going.” In Grade Four, Mr Hreljac travelled with his family to Uganda. They were welcomed with a feast. Mr Hreljac spent two weeks as a student at Angolo Primary School. He met Jimmy, and a friendship blossomed between them. The two had a sleepover, played cards and read the first Harry Potter book. When Mr Hreljac’s family realised that Jimmy was an orphan, they sent money over for his education. But, when Northern Uganda was shaken by a conflict in 2003, they wanted to do more.They put Jimmy on a flight to Canada, where he was set to attend a conference. “Jimmy, when he came, he was my best friend. And, he just became my brother. Jimmy decided that he wanted to stay, and we ended up adopting Jimmy,” Mr Hreljac said, to a round of applause by USLS delegates. Jimmy has a degree in anthropology. He is doing an apprenticeship on welding and pipe fitting. He got married two years ago, and has a baby on the way, Mr Hreljac said. The story touched millions, after Mr Hreljac appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. A documentary titled “Ryan’s Well” was also made, based on his first visit to Uganda. “It helped create the spark, that created Ryan’s Well Foundation,” Mr Hreljac said. It has three full-time staff, two part-timers and a host of volunteers. Today, the organisation has 1000 water projects in 16 countries. Ryan’s Well Foundation has helped over 850,000 people access clean water.
Start as You Are Many people feel that they need to be older, or more experienced to make a difference. “It is important to realise that you have the capacity for bigger things, regardless of how old you are,” Mr Hreljac advised. “The world needs you, not a better, improved you. It needs your creativity, your capacity, and whatever you have to offer,” he said. He credited his neighbours, friends and strangers for kickstarting an extraordinary journey. A lady, who lived a few blocks away, was one of the first supporters of Ryan’s Well Foundation. Mr Hreljac drew a picture, and mailed her a thank-you note. “She still donates today. If you can do the little things to show people you care, you don’t have to be.... the loudest voice in the room,” he shared. “When I look back at the last 19 years of work, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, was to raise my hand in my Grade One class. It wasn’t the complexities here, or how the problems changed there,” Mr Hreljac added. “I was not a hand-raiser. But, I found something I was passionate about, something I cared about, and decided to put myself out there.”
I don’t have a smile that lights up on my face because I can have a shower in the morning, or a glass of water. So to see something that I considered so small and negligible, have that much of an impact on somebody’s life, gave me the perspective and motivation to keep on going.
Helping Street Kids Start A new Street children are troublemakers. They are also vulnerable to slavery, human trafficking and abuse. Mr Michael Brosowski founded the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, which has helped 4,000 children go to school. Moving to Vietnam, Mr Michael Brosowski planned to have a quiet life. He secured a job as an English teacher at the University of Economics in 2002. Ironically, his life has since been a whirlwind ride. “On the weekends, I would see street kids everywhere I went. They were the boys shining shoes. They were earning money and sending it home at the end of the month, so their brothers and sisters could go to school,” he said. So, Mr Brosowski started teaching them English at a cafe. The initiative caught the attention of one of his university students, Pham Sy Chung. Together, they contacted organisations, to ask them to launch initiatives for street kids. Slowly but surely, the plea seemed absurd. “We realised that this is our responsibility. We were there. We were on the ground. And so, the idea for Blue Dragon was born,” Mr Brosowski said. He resigned from his teaching post, to fully concentrate on helping street children. In 2004, the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation was established. The foundation hopes to help the children continue their education, and provide them with jobs, training and apprenticeships. It also aims to help the young, who have fallen prey to slavery and human trafficking schemes. Mr Brosowski noted that children have been sold to sweatshops, farms and gold mines. Girls are particularly vulnerable to sex traffickers. In one of the earlier cases, Blue Dragon managed to rescue six girls from a brothel in 2007. “These are not people who’ve gone to do sex work, and changed their mind. These are people who thought they were going for a job, thought that they were going with a friend. Someone had built up a relationship with them, and then sold them,” Mr Brosowski said. Over the years, Blue Dragon has rescued 700 children and young women from trafficking. It has helped 4,000 children go to school. Mr Brosowski alludes the formation of Blue Dragon to a harrowing sailing adventure. He had never sailed in his life. But, when a friend wanted his company on a 42-foot Peterson sail boat, he immediately agreed. They planned to sail from San Francisco to Fiji.
An Unexpected Journey After Mr Brosowski arrived in San Francisco, they spent a week at the dock doing repairs, installing equipment and purchasing provisions. Many sailors, who had been there for far longer, did not feel ready to sail across the Pacific. Still, Mr Brosowski and his friend forged ahead. Everything went wrong during the trip. They lost the boat’s main sail. Then, the water tanks leaked dry. The boat’s motor blew up. Finally, the autopilot function, radar and radio stopped working. Luckily, they managed to steer the boat to Hawaii. Mr Brosowski returned to Vietnam, and his friend hired a professional sailor to take the boat to Fiji. Some of the sailors, whom Mr Brosowski met in San Francisco, wrote to say that they had warned him against taking the trip. “I bit my lip, but what I wanted to say was, ‘Yes, but I made it. And you’re still in the dock in San Francisco.’ I had completed the journey and they hadn’t started, because they were still getting ready,” Mr Brosowski reflected. Setting up Blue Dragon was a far crazier journey. “We didn’t know the rules. We didn’t know the textbook on how to set up an NGO and help street children,” Mr Brosowski said. “All we knew was there were kids in front of us, and they needed someone to help them. Today, when I look back at how the journey went, I wouldn’t have done it any other way,” he added.
We didn’t know the rules. We didn’t know the textbook on how to set up an NGO and help street children. All we knew was there were kids in front of us, and they needed someone to help them.
Because it is tricky to bust trafficking schemes, Blue Dragon works informally with the police in China and Vietnam. “The greater danger for us is actually in our work in Hanoi. We are getting street kids out of these dangerous situations,” Mr Brosowski said. “People are abusing them, and those people are our neighbours. They’re in our community. In those cases, we’ve had to really take the backseat sometimes, and hand over to the police,” he added. Being anonymous is key. News reports have covered the organisation’s work, without mentioning its name. Blue Dragon also tries to keep a low profile on social media, which could otherwise be used as a fundraising tool. “We know that people would love to hear about these stories. But, we can’t work if everybody knew this. So, we have had to make a lot of judgement calls,” Mr Brosowski explained. For now, the organisation tries to use fear to stop future offenders. When Blue Dragon represents victims, it takes the case to the circuit court. These courts are located in the district where the crime occurred. “We hope that we are reaching would-be traffickers. I have no way to measure whether this is working or not, other than a gut feeling that it has to work,” Mr Brosowski said. “Our job is to raise the stakes, as they say, to make it costly. To get people arrested. To get journalists writing stories about it,” he elaborated. Mr Brosowski challenged USLS delegates to look beyond a project’s framework. “What I’m talking about isn’t sustainable. It’s not replicable or scalable. What matters is people. You and me, caring for somebody else,” he insisted. In the case of Blue Dragon, the “kids need someone who can take the punches. They’ve stolen our mobile phones. They’ve stolen our laptops. They’ve broken in and robbed us on the weekends,” Mr Brosowski shared. He added, “When we find them again, we say to them, ‘Actually, we just need to know that you’re safe.’ They realise for the first time, they are the centre of somebody’s universe.”
IN CAMBODIA WITH LOVE Children from Cambodian villages may not have education, medical care or a family to turn to. Ms Geraldine Cox, who founded Sunrise Children’s Village, has spent decades trying to help. She shared stories of grief, hope and love with USLS delegates. Detractors call her loud, stubborn and pushy. Ms Geraldine Cox considers these her greatest attributes. Wearing her bright red hair in a topknot, she turns heads in rural Cambodia, where she lives. Ms Cox is ‘mum’ to more than 200 vulnerable children, who live in the three centres of Sunrise Children’s Village. In the day, another 3,000 attend classes on subjects such as art, music and sport. “I’m totally unqualified to do what I’m doing. I left school at the age of 15. I have no university degree, no formal qualifications at all,” she unabashedly said. “I simply do what every parent does when they care for their family. I give them education, opportunity, infrastructure and security, but most of all, I give them love,” Ms Cox added. “I protect them, care for them and fill them with love and respect for the belief that they can be whoever they want to be.” Ms Cox was there for the children during the 1997 coup, when young soldiers stormed the orphanage with AK-47 guns. Speaking in Khmer, she told them to put their weapons down. That was a success story, but there are many harrowing ones. Once, Ms Cox chanced upon an abandoned baby outside a noodle store. When she returned for him days later, she discovered that his eyes had been harvested for the black market. In another, a girl’s mother was having an affair. The man raped the girl, and splashed acid on the pair in an angry fit. Now, the girl has legs that look like “charred sausages,” Ms Cox said. Then, there is the story of hope. Waew was badly disfigured in an acid attack, losing an eye and a ear. At age 8, she was sold to a begging ring and suffered abuse. Waew was eventually rescued by the International Office of Migration and ended up at Sunrise. But, she was very dysfunctional and had forgotten how to speak Khmer. Sending Waew to a local school was not an option, as she would have been made fun of. So, Ms Cox hired a private tutor to help her along. “Her intelligence shined like her one perfect eye. She passed Grade 12 last year, and was invited to be the keynote speaker... at the International Burn Survivor Conference in Geneva, to a standing ovation. Nothing is going to stop this girl,” Ms Cox shared. Waew has overcome her fear of being in the open. “I just stand up very straight and say to them, ‘What I look like is not who I am.’”
For cases like Waew, growing up with Sunrise gives them strength to start anew. Upon turning 18, a child will be moved to the city. Sunrise covers rent for three months, while he or she finds a job. Still, the emotional connection with Ms Cox remains, and many children return to visit her. Education and lodging aside, the 150 staff of Sunrise work on community projects. These include digging wells, building houses and bridges, and ferrying villagers to the nearest hospital. “If you are born in the West, your life is going to be pretty much okay. But, if you are born in rural Cambodia or the slumps of Bangladesh, you can be reasonably sure that your life would be disadvantaged,” Ms Cox said. Born in Australia, Ms Cox enjoyed a privileged life, working for the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs. She had a chauffeur-driven car, fabulous social life and first-class travel. Her first posting was to Phnom Penh, and the experience of the Vietnam War spilling over to the country stuck with her. Following that, Ms Cox worked at the Chase Manhattan Bank in Sydney. She decided to live in Cambodia in 1996. “Cambodia gives me all the mystery I would ever want. Every day, I know I would laugh, cry, get angry or frustrated, be amazed, confused and also thankful,” said Ms Cox, who is in her 70s. She encouraged delegates to find their passion in life and embrace it. “You don’t have to run off to the jungles of Cambodia to find your purpose in life,” Ms Cox quipped. “It can be bringing up a healthy, loving family. Maybe in this room, are people who will find cures for cancer, Aids and other illnesses. Maybe in this room, are people who will find ways to clean our rivers and seas,” she continued. “My generation could not do it. You have to. But please, find that button to press that makes you know you are alive,” she said. Paying tribute to the USLS, Ms Cox added, “This conference every year means a lot to me. I know that there are people in this room who are going to make a huge difference in the world. “You are going to be leaders. You are going to make changes. And I hope one day when you’ve done all these things, you’ll say, ‘That old red-headed lady was right.’”
Charting a Brighter Future Making the world a better place starts with you and me. Inspirational speaker and author Francis Kong had some candid advice for USLS delegates. When Mr Francis Kong was in high school, he obtained a PhD. Only this time, the acronym stood for ‘passing high school with difficulty’. He played varsity basketball, and was madly in love with a girl named Lilia, who would become his wife. “My mind and heart were at the wrong places. I was in second-year high school, when (Lilia) was in first-year high school. I waited for her,” Mr Kong quipped. “We both became second-year high school. Third-year, fourth-year, she graduated. She went to college. I decided to review my subjects again,” he said. Knowing that he loved fashion, Mr Kong found a job in the industry after graduation. It required him to dress mannequins in show windows. “That’s where I got started. But, I told myself there’s dignity there. I’m not stealing money. With the tiny... salary that I was receiving, I invested in books,” he said. Mr Kong read books on sales, marketing, public relations, public speaking, presentation and advertising. One day, he became a specialist in garments. This led to business ventures. Now, Mr Kong is a reputed businessman, columnist, broadcaster, author and inspirational speaker. Each year, he gives an average of 300 talks in the Philippines and abroad. He still reads four to five books every month. He shared these life lessons at the 8th USLS:
Success has a Short Shelf Life In 2015, Mr Kong and his son Bryan were in New York. They were hoping to return to the Philippines. On that fateful day, Paris was attacked. He observed that major airlines started to offer ticket promotions. “Something can happen in one corner of the world, and then it affects every person on this planet,” Mr Kong said. “Your success today does not translate to perennial success. In other words, if you are successful today, you better make sure you do the right thing,” he advised.
Facebook is a Billboard, not a Diary Don’t be envious of your friends’ posts on social media. It is far from an truthful account. Mr Kong has convinced nine people, who had reached out to him on Facebook, against committing suicide. “And, every single one of them... you open their profile page, it’s all beautiful things. No one talks about their struggles there,” he said.
Change takes a Nanosecond “It is not true that it takes a long time to change. Change happens when you determine that you want to change. All it takes is one nanosecond to change, but a lifetime of maintaining that change,” Mr Kong said. “The future belongs to you and my children too. People my age have done our part. We’re still doing it. But still, (there is) the finality of time left for us to do what we are doing, ” he added.
Move from Desire to Outcome Being successful is an outcome. If you desire to be successful, the fastest way to reach it is via a straight line. “In our journey from where we are, to our desired outcome, you and I need Waze or Google maps,” Mr Kong said. “Things are going to grow even more uncertain, I can assure you. We need a navigational device, so that that navigational device now serves as a compass, that can help us manoeuvre our way,” he summed up.
Recognise the Strengths of Others Mr Kong considers himself to be good at business and making money. Still, he is bad at managing the money he makes. His wife, Lilia, is good with that. “The world is connected. You can’t succeed alone. Just because you’re good at what you do, doesn’t mean that other people are dumber than you. You and I are all experts, but we are all experts only in different subject matters,” .
Focus on Your Talents When Mr Kong became a garments specialist, opportunities came knocking. “I got known in the industry. People with extra money are always looking for people with no money, but with excess talent,” he said. “We formed our own company, and that propelled me to business. It was a long, hard climb. But, it’s worth it all the way,” he reflected.
Youths Can Change the World At a session titled “Causes That Matters to Youth”, panelists urged USLS delegates to get involved in youth-led campaigns, aimed at their counterparts in the Asia-Pacific region. It could be climate change, hunger or gender equality. No matter what young people are passionate about, there are avenues to make a difference. That was the central message of the panel “Causes That Matters to Youth”. The discussion was moderated by Mr Savinda Ranathunga, a Regional Youth Project Coordinator at UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub. “We are all here with that one aim of how young people can support the challenges that young people and everyone is facing in this planet,” Mr Ranathunga said. “There are so many challenges ahead, but all of us are here to make a difference.” Panelists were making important contributions of their own. Ms Dana Choi, a UN volunteer for Youth and Civil Society at UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub and a past USLS delegate was the first to speak. She supported regional initiative #Case4Space, that hopes to enhance the civic engagement and political participation of young people. This involved organising a photo competition to raise awareness. The initiative was a great success, receiving over 200 photographs and 1.5 million impressions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Ms Choi shared. “We made young people have incredible discussions on what they think of civic space in their community,” she summed up. Of the lot, 15 photographs which encapsulated the fears, hopes and dreams of youth were exhibited at the 8th USLS. As society progresses, youth-driven data also needs to be collect and analysed. That’s what ‘Generation What? Asia-Pacific’ hopes to do. “In this day and age of social media and freedom of movement, identities and values have become more fluid,” said Mr Joel Marc Perado (Need UN to confirm spelling and name, as the project manager did not attend as scheduled), a youth advisory panel member. He said that the regional campaign relies on activists and members of public who can spread the message. It also needs intermediaries such as the UN, other international organisations and academics who can make sense of data. U-Report is another data collection tool. The brainchild of UNICEF, it allows people from communities around the world to anonymously respond to polls and flag issues. The tool can also provide information on health epidemics like the Zika virus. Mr James Powell, the global U-Report lead at UNICEF, said that 3.5 million people were using the platform. Data collected is shared with government officials, and has the potential to influence future policies, he said. U-Report found that half of its users from Ukraine had experienced bullying. Of the group, 38 percent did not tell anyone. “They suffered in silence, but were able to tell us about the issue. I think the positive point of this project is that the information is getting to decision makers,” Mr Powell said.
Brightening Lives Every effort betters the lives of beneficiaries. Mr Aries Valeriano, a youth and social organisation officer of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia-Pacific, rallied support for #Live2LUV. The campaign hopes to reduce the stigma against HIV, provide information, and encourage people to get tested. Ms Pia Wurtzbach, the winner of Miss Universe 2015, is its ambassador. Ten young people are infected with HIV per hour in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Mr Valeriano. He believes that social media can start a conversation. #Live2LUV is also working with civil society and dating applications. “We need your help. Because that’s where you are and that’s your power. So join us, advice us and challenge us,” he told delegates. Ms Erika Isabel Yague tapped on her own experiences of injustice, violence and sexual abuse. Because of her background, she had no access to proper education and worried about her daily meals. Ms Yague is a consultant of the Adolescent and Youth Programme at the UNFPA Asia-Pacific Regional Office. “These experiences of mine is what started and fueled my passion to look for peace. This is not only an issue for the people in government and authority,” she said.
Leaving No One Behind The SDGs rest heavily on privileged countries and individuals, who have resources to better the world. UN representatives talked about why inclusion is key to sustainable growth. Why can’t the privileged progress and leave the poor behind? The answer lies in the first three words of the UN Charter. “‘We the peoples’ means I don’t care if you are black or white, which ethnicity you come from. I don’t care if you are from the north or south, or what is your sexual orientation,” said Ms Manon Bernier, regional manager at UNV Asia-Pacific. “That’s really the core spirit of the UN. We work for everyone, and this is really what matters,” she said. At an interactive panel titled “Leaving No One Behind”, speakers weighed in on the overarching principle behind the SDGs. Dr Marco Roncarati, a social affairs officer of the Social Development Division at UNESCAP, moderated the session. Ms Vivian Tan, a senior regional public information officer at UNHCR, looked back on her interactions with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. She had asked them what they needed the most. “We thought they would ask for a better house, for more food in their monthly rations. We thought they would ask for more materialistic things... to improve their lives. But really, all they were asking for was opportunities,” Ms Tan said. “Let us attend high school. Let us attend university if possible. Give us the right to work. Give us a future, was basically what they were telling us,” she added. “I think we have a moral obligation to bring them along with us, to give them the same rights and opportunities that we have. Refugees can really not just survive but thrive.” The agency works with partners and governments, to make sure that the basic needs of refugees are met. It lobbies for access to education, healthcare, and urges countries to keep refugees in mind during development planning. Mr Beniam Gebrezghi, a fellow panelist, had experienced starting anew in a foreign country. Born to a minority group in eastern Africa, he fled when the country was at war, and became a refugee in Sweden. Today, Mr Gebrezghi is a programme specialist for Civil Society and Youth, at the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub. “I was lucky to get a university degree. But I am one percent of all the refugees that get that. Most of the time, you can’t see those that are left behind,” he reflected.
A Helping Hand With the Millennium Development Goals, countries banded together to significantly reduce poverty. Finding hope in its success, Mr Gebrezghi is optimistic about the SDGs. “When everybody galvanised around a set of sustainable goals, people listened. So together, civil society, indigenous people, governments... they delivered on these goals,” he said. Volunteering can be a good first step for youth. In this light, ReliefWeb hopes to be of help to all humanitarians. They can access over 600,000 reports, publications, maps and infographics on the largest humanitarian information portal in the world. This helps them prioritise where to allocate funding, assistance and aid, said ReliefWeb editor Yuen Kwan Chan. Ms Chan, who also heads the Asia-Pacific office of UN OCHA, added, “If we didn’t do that, many of our readers... have told us that it would become extremely difficult to try and figure out the entire landscape.” Ms Bernier described volunteering as a “reciprocal relationship”. She said, “There is a complete other world there. It changes the way you look at others. Through volunteering, you not only serve others, but empower communities to take action and be able to have the same opportunities.”
ENDING POVERTY EVERYWHERE Poverty is not just about money â€“ it takes many forms. Mr Bryce Hartley, a Consultant at the United Nations ESCAP, asked USLS delegates to brainstorm for solutions at a parallel session. Extreme poverty, or the number of people living on less than US$1.25 a day, has been halved across the world. This Millennium Development Goal target was met in 2015. There is more to be done. Poverty still exists in many forms, which SDG 1 hopes to address, said Mr Bryce Hartley, a Consultant at the United Nations ESCAP. Limited access to resources, or a lack of personal safety due to conflict are forms of poverty, Mr Hartley added. At a parallel session, he asked delegates to brainstorm for solutions. They broke into small groups for a lively discussion. On a whole, delegates agreed that any solution had to be backed by legislation, to be effective in the long run. Hot issues included corruption and building resilience after a natural disaster strikes. Media campaigns to raise awareness on human rights and the importance of transparent processes can help to tackle corruption, delegates said. Comprehensive assessments by individuals and the government can keep communities resilient after natural disasters. Governments should concrete plan for post-disaster recovery, they added. Groups were also concerned about reaching out to rural communities. One suggested sending a UN multidisciplinary team to rural communities, to give them advice on capacity building. Another group said that graduates should be encouraged to impart knowledge to those living in rural areas. This way, those living on the outskirts will trained to take on jobs. Jobs may be the key to improving their lives, the group reasoned. Beyond extreme poverty, there are many others who are struggling to cope. Some 767 million people still live under the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day. So SDG 1, which wishes to end poverty in all its forms, has wide-ranging targets. By 2030, it aims to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide. It also hopes that men and women will have equal rights to economic resources. Among other things, they should have access to basic services, appropriate new technology and financial services. They should also have the ability to own land. Governments can take huge strides towards fulfilling SDG 1, Mr Hartley emphasised. Guided by the UN, they should allocate resources to weed out problems like corruption. When natural disasters or conflicts strike, strong leadership puts a community on the path of recovery, he added.
Advocating for genderless societies Gender inequality encourages violence against women. At a parallel session led by Ms Pam Rugkhla from UN Women Asia-Pacific, delegates shared their experiences and hopes. One in three women experience gender-based violence in their lifetime. The startling statistic was shared by Ms Pam Rugkhla, a regional campaign coordinator at UN Women Asia-Pacific. “(This) means that people in this room would know someone, or they themselves have experienced violence as well,” she explained. “Violence against women is an expression of gender inequality. In societies where men are valued more than women, society would more likely accept the behaviour and practices that are harmful to women,” Ms Rugkhla added. Inequality occurs in both developing and developed countries. Female USLS delegates said that they were taught to not make eye contact when walking alone, for safety’s sake. Others recounted being pressured to dress and act in line with gender stereotypes. Sometimes, the difference between genders is less glaring. It could take place in a classroom, where girls are expected to be less outspoken than boys. Ms Elia Hauge, a delegate from Australia, spoke from her personal experience as a woman in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). “It’s very frequent in engineering to sit in a classroom and look around, and be the only woman in there. There’s so much opportunity out there, especially in STEM. There’s so much room for women,” Ms Hauge said. “We just need to make it ‘normal’ for women to want to take a hold of it. If you know young girls, reach out to them, make that available to them, and we’ll see what we can do,” she urged. USA delegate Sara Al-Zubi felt that inequality extended to the political sphere. She noted that women often waited to be asked to run for office, while men made the decision on their own. “I would love that every woman in this room runs for office, and represents the women in her life and her communities. Because I think that we can make that impact on our communities,” Ms Al-Zubi said.
More Than Women Inequality affects men and minority groups too. Ms Preeti Bhandurge, a delegate from India, has male friends who are being harassed at work. But, they don’t talk about it in the open, because it is not widely accepted that men can be victims, she said. “Gender equality is for both. I’ve had constant debate with men saying that there’s nothing for us, there are no laws supporting us. I just want to know what support we can show to them,” she added. Singapore delegate Muhammad Zulhaqqim Bin Awaruddin, took the opportunity to come out as a gay man. At the young age of 14, he fell into depression while coming to terms with his sexual identity. Mr Zulhaqqim is currently training to be a teacher, and doing research how the LGBT community can be included in sexuality education. “They are a marginalised group that has not been explicitly addressed in school. I feel very passionate about this because I want to be there, as a teacher, for students who are struggling with this,” he said. During the parallel session, delegates broke into small groups to brainstorm for ways to promote gender equality. Ms Rugkhla also asked them to think about how the UN system could support their initiatives. “If you have ideas for campus work, on Changemakers or other peer-to-peer education in your university, we can support that. And we can also support you by telling your stories to the larger group as well,” she said. “From a small beginning, you can build momentum over time. It might not happen instantly, but over the course of a few years, that change can happen and you have the power to influence those things,” Ms Rugkhla advised.
Maximising Our Water Resources In 50 years, mobile phones will become more available than water, predicts Mr Pawin Talerngsri, a Programme Analyst at UNDP Thailand. That’s why SDG 6, which focuses on water and sanitation, is critical. A whopping 97 percent of the earth is covered with water – but we can’t drink all of it. Most make up oceans. The rest form glaciers, seep into the ground, or exist in lakes and swamps. Only three percent of water is for human use. Countries like Brazil, Russia and China have water in abundance, shared Mr Pawin Talerngsri, a Programme Analyst at UNDP Thailand. Other countries including Bahrain, Kuwait and Saint Kitts and Nevis are water-deprived. Because humans can only survive for days without water, it is the source of life and death, Mr Talerngsri stressed. Today, around 1.1 billion people don’t have access to clean and drinkable water, he added. Most of them live in developing countries. In areas with poor sanitation and hygiene, water resources are often contaminated by fecal matter. Diarrhea kills 4,100 children per day, 90 percent of whom are under five years of age. Delegates of the USLS parallel session were taken aback by the statistics. Ms Megan Dale, a delegate from Australia, questioned if doubling agricultural productivity by 2030 – one of the targets under SDG 2 – conflicts with the aim of making clean water accessible for all. This is because agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s water supply. In response, Mr Talerngsri said that the UNFAO is currently trying to increase food security, and ensure an adequate supply of water at the same time. Trade-offs must be considered, and it is a challenge that the UN is working on, he added. A delegate from Kenya, Mr Elvis Rop, asked if planting trees contributes to the high level of water consumption. Mr Talerngsri explained that this depends on the species of trees being planted. Some, like evergreen trees, consume more water than average, he said. Rebecca, a delegate from Australia, was concerned that conflicts between countries would result in the cutting of water supply. She wished to know what the UN would do in situations like these. UN agencies “respect local wisdom,” Mr Talerngsri replied. Agencies will stay out of the politics of the conflict, while working on reinstating water supply. This can be done through research and stakeholder consultation.
COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE In recent years, climate change has been on the forefront of national agendas. It has also been on the minds of some delegates, who raised critical questions at a USLS parallel session. The Paris Agreement, ratified by 168 parties, is part of the UNDPâ€™s strategic plan to tackle climate change. It hopes to ensure that global temperatures rise by less than 2 degrees Celsius this century. Ms Rohini Kohli, a UNDP Lead Technical Specialist, briefed delegates on overall efforts at a parallel session. She works on national adaptation plans, and green low-emission climate-resilient development strategies. Ms Kohli noted that many signatories of the Paris Agreement have progressive climate change policies. The healthy peer pressure could spur others to take action. Agreements aside, the UN implements projects which combat climate change, and achieve other sustainable development goals. Eco-friendly technologies, for instance, save the earth, Ms Kohli said. They are also a step towards food security and sustainable agricultural targets (SDG 2). Still, climate change goals differ for developing and developed countries. Developing countries may strive to give all inhabitants access to electricity, Ms Kohli elaborated. On the other hand, developed countries should start finding and using sources of clean energy. Delegates had many questions for Ms Kohli. Mr Usama Moazam, a delegate from Pakistan, asked if the UN could enforce breaches of a countryâ€™s climate laws. Ms Kohli reminded him that the UN is an intergovernmental body, which cannot enforce laws. Any punishment had to be meted out by respective governments. A delegate from the United States, Ms Kelsey Forren, was after some advice. What should individuals do if their countries do not support the Paris Agreement? Ms Kohli responded that communities can organise efforts of their own and take action. Ms Angela Begg from Australia, wanted to help. She wished to know how engineering students, like herself, could keep eco-friendly technologies relevant. The UN leaves innovation to the private sector. It also takes interesting ideas from individuals into consideration, Ms Kohli shared.
UNDERSTANDING THE UN To give delegates a better understanding of the United Nations, an inaugural three-day exhibition was staged by the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development at the 8th USLS. The exhibition showcased the work of 11 United Nations agencies. UNDP The United Nations Development Programme operates in around 170 countries and territories. The agency strives to eradicate poverty, and reduce inequality and exclusion. It is experimenting with new ways to involve youths. UNDP has collaborated with Humanitarian Affairs since USLSâ€™ inception in 2010.
UNAIDS Created in 1996, UNAIDS hopes to guide, strengthen and support global efforts to end the HIV epidemic. Its goals include caring for the infected, making communities less vulnerable, and preventing the spread of HIV. The #Live2LUV social media campaign hopes to reduce stigma against HIV, provide information, and encourage people to get tested. One of the campaignâ€™s advocates is Ms Pia Wurtzbach, who was crowned Ms Universe 2015. She was present at the UNAIDS booth. Humanitarian Affairs has supported UNAIDS by holding a public awareness campaign and contributing 50,000 condoms to the African region.
UNFPA The United Nations Population Fund works towards a world where women and young people can lead healthy and productive lives. Since its inception in 1969, the number of women dying from a complicated pregnancy or childbirth has been halved. There is a long road ahead. Its #Youth4Peace campaign empowers youths to promote global peace and security. By banding together as one, they are asked to be active champions of positive and constructive change.
UN-Women Championing gender equality and the empowerment of women, the agency works to create an environment where every woman can live to her fullest potential. It believes that gender equality is a basic human right, with enormous socio-economic effects. Much progress has been made. Boys and girls have equal access to education in two-thirds of developing countries.
UNV The United Nations Volunteers programme has two main duties, to promote volunteerism and moblise volunteers when needed. Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, it has staff headcount of 150 and close to 7,000 volunteers in the field.
become-volunteer to find out more about volunteering with the UN. Youâ€™re never too old to start!
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation plays an important role the globalised world. The agency aims to facilitate international cooperation in education, culture, science and communication. Among other goals, it believes that a child should fully benefit from scientific advances, receive quality education and have freedom of expression. Humanitarian Affairs has partnered UNESCO for numerous projects, such as training Namibia youth leaders in social and economic development. Together, they set up a library with 5,000 donated English books at an elementary school in Hanoi. Humanirarian Affairs contributed 250 refurbished computers to 10 high schools in the Philippines to raise digital literacy and skills. Humanitarian Affairs has also participated in many high-level UNESCO meetings.
UN OCHA The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is part of the UN Secretariat. It brings humanitarians together, for a timely coordinated response when emergencies arise. With ReliefWeb, humanitarians have access to over 600,000 reports, publications, maps and infographics. Every year, ReliefWeb helps to promote the USLS to the world.
UNHCR The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is committed to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for displaced refugees. It helps them seek asylum and a safe abode, away from conflict, war and persecution. The agency and its partners were involved in providing aid and seeking shelter for Rohingya refugees. Hundreds and thousands of minority Muslim Rohingya have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, in what has become a major humanitarian crisis. Humanitarian Affairs has collaborated with UNHCR to raise awareness for the plight of refugees.
UNESCAP Short for United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, it is made up of 53 member states and 9 associate members. The UNâ€™s regional development arm offers results-oriented projects, capacity building and technical assistance to member states. Its areas of interest include transport, energy, social development and macroeconomic policy.
defends the rights of children, no matter where they are born. It has a presence in 190 countries and territories. UNICEFâ€™s U-Report is a ingenious data collection tool, which allows users to anonymously respond to polls and raise issues including bullying. Findings can be taken as a collective voice, which can spur policy makers into action.
UN-Habitat The programme works towards a better urban future. By 2030, six in 10 people across the world are expected to reside in urban areas. UN-Habitat works towards sustainable human settlements, adequate shelter and effective urban planning for all. Humanitarian Affairs has worked with UN-Habitat to nurture youth at the World Urban Youth Forum.
ENDING POVERTY We all know that poverty exists. It’s always making the news. On Service Day, delegates were given the opportunity gather fresh perspectives on the problem. They worked with the Mercy Centre, which serves slum families who live in poor conditions in Bangkok. Delegates were divided into six teams, and spent the day delivering food parcels sponsored by Lotus Tesco to the slum communities. With the help of a translator, they listened to the hopes and experiences of each slum-dwellers. “Every family, without exception, was welcoming, friendly and open to questions,” said Ms Chloe Wilson, a delegate from New Zealand. “It was surreal to see households live in such poor conditions, yet carry the most warming smiles I have ever seen,” she added. Some delegates were saddened by the experience. They recognised that parents had to work extremely hard to provide food and education, in hopes that their children would have a better life. Others felt that the world was unjust, and were shocked that poverty could even exist. Still, most delegates were inspired by the courage and strength that each family portrayed, and left with a new outlook of gratitude. Everyone was honoured be part of the Service Day initiative. They pledged to take what they learned home, and find ways to make the world a better and fairer place to live in. There is still a way to go. In the least developed countries, nearly 38 percent of workers live below the poverty line.
Quality Education Together with the staff of Mercy Centre, delegates organised a party for its 120 pre-schoolers from the slum communities. The party kicked off with a traditional Thai dance, and a brief welcome address by Father Joseph Maier – who has spent decades ministering to Bangkok’s slums. Donations collected by Humanitarian Affairs, such as biscuits, drinking water, mosquito repellent and stationery sets were distributed to the communities. Delegates and the children played ball, rope and dance games. The children taught delegates some yard games of their own! Other activities included storytelling, making paper planes and learning English. Ronald McDonald, the primary mascot of the McDonald’s chain, showed up for a special performance before lunch. As the children took a post-lunch nap, delegates cleared the area of rubbish. Everyone gathered for the closing ceremony in the late afternoon, gathering in a circle to sing and dance. “Many left with the sense of urgency and the willingness to further the cause of education for all, after the conclusion of the 8th USLS,” reported Ms Irini Kassas, an intern from Humanitarian Affairs. “The experience overall allowed children and participants to excel in their skills of leadership through inclusion,” she added.
Sustainable Energy Many of us canâ€™t imagine life without electricity. Air-conditioning keeps us cool on a warm day. A simple switch powers the bedside lamp, which helps us to read at night. Some 1.06 billion people, who largely live in subSaharan Africa, are not as lucky. They go about their lives without access to electricity. USLS delegates paid tribute to SDG 7, which strives to achieve energy access for all. Much of the responsibility rests on the developed world, to meet new targets on efficient and renewable energy. Delegates took a relaxing bike ride from Thammasat University to serve local communities in need. A total of 200 USLS delegates were involved in the initiative. Some worked together to lay bricks, set-up a mini garden in an elementary school, and restored old canteen tables and chairs. Another group was given the honour to make artificial flower for the cremation of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Decent Work and Economic Growth According to the International Labour Organisation, more than 204 million people were unemployed in 2015. In this light, job creation is important as helps to reduce forced labour, slavery and human trafficking. The Oishi Green Tea Factory is a good example of a Thai business at work. The factory recently expanded its range of chilled and ready-to-eat products. This includes sandwiches, gyoza and ramen. Revenue has grown by 7 percent since 2015, company executives shared. USLS delegates toured the factory with 40 children from the Youth Aid Center Maharat Foundation. They were given a glimpse of the correlation between business and society. A game was conducted to let children learn the value of hard work at the workplace, with the hope that they will grow up and contribute to the Thai economy. After lunch, delegates visited the childrenâ€™s residential home and conducted enrichment activities. Although most of the children did not speak English, it was an enjoyable afternoon for all.
REDUCE INEQUALITY Income inequality is well documented and on the rise. The world’s richest 10 percent earn as much as 40 percent of total global income. In contrast, the poorest 10 percent earn between 2 and 7 percent of the global income. Inequality in developing countries has increased by 11 percent, if we take into account population growth. Given the widening disparity, sound policies are needed to empower the bottom percentile of income earners, and promote the economic inclusion of all regardless of sex, race or ethnicity. In line with this goal, USLS delegates brought 120 children from poor and socially-isolated backgrounds to “Dinosaur Planet”, whose families would not have been able to afford the admission ticket. The children were excited to see dinosaurs moving their tails, and we could see the smiles on their faces as they posed for photographs. They spent precious moments learning more about the dinosaur age. Lunch provided by McDonald’s was a treat, with some of the children having hamburger for the first time in their lives. The coordinator specially requested for McDonald’s as many of the children were deprived of the opportunity to visit fast food chains.
Sustainable Cities and Communities The Vice-Governor of Kanchanaburi Province welcomed 160 delegates to his community. Delegates were greeted with drum beats from the villagers, and were game enough to join them in a Thai traditional dance. Agriculture is often the livelihood of the poorest people, who live in very rural areas with limited access to essential services like education and healthcare. Sustainable agriculture is essential to empower communities most vulnerable to poverty and stabilise economies. Nong Sarai is an exemplary sustainable community which is grounded in agriculture. It aims to be completely self-dependent and is guided by the doctrine of happiness. During the visit, delegates released 999 fish into the pond to restore fish populations. They also planted 999 Calendula plants which will bloom in October - the period for the cremation of King Rama 9; and planted 999 rice plant in a paddy field for the new harvest in December, the birth month of King Rama 9. ‘999’ was chosen as ‘9’ is considered an auspicious number and it represents we were doing it for King Rama 9 in Thailand. The hands-on activities allowed delegates to engage directly with the local community. The group also learned more about a Thai farmer’s lifestyle and agriculture’s role in Thailand. Most importantly, they gathered valuable insights on how to plan and maintain sustainable communities.
CLIMATE CHANGE The earth is ours to treasure and protect. That was the overall takeaway from the Service Day initiative dedicated to combating climate change. Due to the rising level of water during the monsoon season, the bundh where prawns and fishes were reared was swept away from the catchment area in Bang Pakong village. To prevent this annual occurrence, 160 delegates spent their day hard at work. After being divided into groups, some of them set up bamboo fences around the catchment areas. They placed 1,300 bamboo poles along the coastline.
bamboo fences had to swim or use a small boat to go out to the coastlines. “We had to balance ourselves on the boat, and use our strength to push the bamboo pole deep into the ground. It was tiring, but certainly a worthwhile activity to be involved in,” said Ms Leonie Nahhas, a delegate from Australia. Others planted 1,000 mangrove trees in the catchment areas. “People planting mangroves were in deep mud, as much as up to their waists, and formed a supply line to get trees planted further out into the mud,” said Mr Loy McGuire, a delegate from the USA.
Life Below Water SDG 14 encourages us to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. On the bus, delegates were told that they were being sent to a portion of the Chao Phraya River, where homes are threatened by rising waters. The situation is worsened by the growth of water hyacinth. Rubbish also hinders water drainage, causing flooding in the area. Travelling by kayak, delegates were tasked to clear the rubbish and water hyacinth. “With smiles on our faces and a paddle in our hands, we took off. Mounds and mounds of hyacinth were removed with the most valuable tool we inherently possess: our own two hands,” said Ms Charlotte Roy, a delegate from Canada. “The work we did was impactful, community focused, and sustainable. It is further evidence of the powerful effect that USLS has in gathering the brightest minds and the biggest hearts, in an effort to serve for global change,” she added. The meaningful day was concluded with a KFC meal and interactions with the local community.
Life On Land Human life depends on the earth, as much as the ocean, for our sustenance and livelihoods. Plants are 80 percent of the human diet, and we rely on agriculture as an important economic resource and means of development. Forests account for 30 percent of the Earthâ€™s surface and are the natural habitat for millions of species. They are also a source of clean air and water. Halting deforestation is vital to combating climate change. Today, we are seeing unprecedented land degradation. We are losing arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate. Drought and desertification is also on the rise each year, amounting to the loss of 12 million hectares of fertile land. This affects poor communities globally. Of the 8,300 known species of animals, 8 percent are extinct and 22 percent are at risk of extinction. The SDGs aim to conserve and restore the use of terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, drylands and mountains by 2020. Urgent action must be taken to reduce the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity, which are part of our common heritage. With this mission in mind, 40 USLS delegates spent a few hours in Bang Pu Nature Reserve, where they planted mangrove trees and remove garbage from the forest. The local community was happy and appreciated their efforts. They personally thanked delegates for their contributions. â€œI had a great experience with my team. It was amazing to see how people from diverse background and cultures can come together to improve the communities,â€? said Ms Alishan, a delegate from Turkey.
One People, One Community At the 8th USLS, 907 emerging world leaders came together as One People, One Community. They belonged to 78 countries, spread across five continents of the world. Some had powerful experiences of poverty, injustice and discrimination. Others were more fortunate and keen to help.They left with a common passion — to make the world a better place. These are their reflections. Usama Moazam, Pakistan Before the symposium, Usama thought that the world was unforgiving. He felt that people lacked consideration and compassion. The 8th USLS changed his mind. “It was an event that changed how I perceived the world and humanity. Never in my life had I been so wrong. Wrong to think that the world has lost hope, wrong to think that the revival of love and tolerance was impossible,” Usama said. He believes that the symposium had a ripple effect that was spread to every corner of the world, through the power of diversity and global citizenship. The speakers “taught us to be selfless, to be humble and to be kind to each other. The traits which seemed to be lost were unearthed again,” Usama reflected. “The words which once sounded like a myth are indeed true: Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile,” he concluded.
Jesús Mendoza, USA On paper, the USLS seemed like a misfit for a business student like Jesús. He majors in manufacturing and supply chain management, and minors in business analytics at the Western Washington University. Still, he signed up, after doing some research on previous symposiums. “I knew that the USLS was something I wanted to be a part of. Upon arrival to the UN in Thailand, it all began to make sense. There were over 900 brilliant young minds, all gathered in a room,” Jesús shared. “My fellow delegates shared a passion for service, and a hunger to make a positive impact on our world. The vibes in the room were intense. I now felt as if I was part of something bigger than myself,” he added.The symposium, which was held in Thailand, marked his first visit to Southeast Asia. Leaving was bittersweet as he had made friends from all around the world. Jesús also gained relevant insights for his chosen field of study. “As a business major, it is important to realise how strong of an impact ethical and globally aware business practices are,” he explained. “The experience is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I feel motivated to improve myself, and will become the strongest global leader I can be.”
Daniel Spearman, USA Renewing a commitment to advocate for social justice and human rights was Daniel Spearman’s biggest takeaway from the 8th USLS. He particularly enjoyed visiting a Thai community in need, taking part in climate change discussions, and listening to speakers who were leading initiatives in countries like Cambodia, Canada and Vietnam. “The collaboration and inspiration that can come from bringing hundreds of like-minded individuals together, who are dedicated to... charging the kind of development and change that this world needs was incredible to witness,” Daniel said. “The USLS was inspirational, educational, emotional, rewarding and eye-opening. I will hold the past week in my heart and remember the consolidation of hope, as we strive towards the ambitious yet imperative SDGs,” he added.
Sandra Berlin, Mexico What makes the USLS special? For Sandra, it was an opportunity to network and meet people from all around the world. The symposium also highlighted global issues that young citizens needed to pay attention to. “The mix of emotions you get while listening to the speakers gives you the motivation and desire to help others,” Sandra said. “It’s insane how being surrounded by people from every country can also... feel like home. I honestly can’t find the right words to describe this experience, but I sure recommend it more than anything!” she summed up.
Nina Annand, Australia On Service Day, Nina Annand chose to spent time with children at a slum in Bangkok. A girl taught her to dance. Upon finding out that she was ticklish, a boy gleefully passed the information to his friends. Although the children spoke limited English, they spent the afternoon playing games involving colours, numbers and animals. “No matter what I write, I won’t be able to summarise this adventure aptly. There was just so much going on – so much to learn, so much to see, so many things to feel,” Nina reflected. “I made some incredible friends and I feel as though this networking is going to be very valuable in years to come. The speakers were like no one I had ever watched before. They were incredible,” she said.
Tegan Raines, Australia Among the delegates of the 8th USLS was a former marine who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also in attendance was a refugee from Afghanistan who now lives in Australia, and a young African woman fighting female genital mutilation in her own country. Tegan Raines met them all. “These are the many things that people worldwide face each and every day, and I had the opportunity to meet these people and listen,” she said. Tegan was also inspired by a motto that will guide her for the rest of her life. It reads: Don’t make a difference in the world. You make the world different. “That’s what I’m going to do. Not many are people are blessed with this opportunity, so it’s my duty to do something. Watch this space, big things are coming!” Tegan quipped.
PARTICIPATING COUNTRIES The 8th University Scholars Leadership Symposium (USLS) was organised by Humanitarian Affairs Asia and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), with 10 other United Nations agencies as strategic partners. The theme of this year’s symposium was “Building LIFE, Giving HOPE”. 907 youth leaders from 78 countries attended the 8th USLS. It was held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand from August 1 to 7, 2017
Eu 20 De
America 135 Delegates
Afr 89 Del
Asia 458 Delegates
Oceania 205 Delegates
EU RO PE
OCEANIA 5% RAL O20% T C O
With regards to educational backgrounds, the majority of delegates (70 percent) were undergraduates, followed by masterâ€™s (20 percent) and doctoral (5 percent) students.
24 - 27 22% 5 -3 28 6% 8. AB
O 5. VE 4% 36
UNDER 23 64%
DER 23 64%
Sixty percent of the delegates were female, while 40 percent were male.
24 - 27 22%
AB O 5. VE 4% 36
5 -3 28 6% 8.
UNDER 23 64%
Because the USLS focuses on leadership development for social change in emerging world leaders, most delegates were under 30 years old.
Delegates resided in all continents of the world, but the majority belonged to Asia. Twenty percent of delegates came from Oceania, while 11 percent were from the Americas and four percent from Europe.
Out of the 12 African countries represented at the symposium, the majority came from Southern Africa, with 53 delegates. This was followed by Eastern Africa with 17 delegates.
In Asia, Southeast Asia had the highest representation with 235 delegates, followed by East Asia with 203 delegates.
Most European delegates who were represented at the USLS were from Northern Europe with a representation of 9 delegates.
In the Americas, most delegates came from North America with 113 delegates. This was followed by South America with a representation of 15 delegates and 7 from Central America .
In Oceania, Australia has the highest representation of 189 delegates, followed by New Zealand with 13 delegates.
A TRIBUTE TO OUR SPOnsoRs The 8th USLS would not have been possible without our sponsors, who went the extra mile to ensure the symposium’s success. We thank Dinosaur Planet, which hosted 125 children from Bangkok’s slum community. The outing brought them immeasurable joy. We thank Tesco Lotus, that contributed enough essential food items for 60 families in a slum. To Siam Makro, which provided slum-dwellers with biscuits and daily necessities. The donations filled their hearts – and those of our delegates – with hope. Our appreciation extends to McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme, for fuelling a children’s party at Mercy Home. To KFC, that served lunch to underprivileged children and our delegates. To Thai Beverage, which contributed 3,000 drinks for Service Day. In times of business success, thank you for thinking about those who have less. We recognise Oishi Factory, that gave orphans a tour of the facility and lunch. It broadened their minds and set their sights on a brighter future. Last but not least, to AirAsia, which sponsored tickets for our humanitarian speakers. These went a long way in grooming young leaders of tomorrow.
OUR STRATEGIC PARTNERS
Published on Nov 29, 2017