Everywhere around the world we see the socio-political climate changing, and its landscapers are getting younger everyday. Young leaders are as hungry as ever for change, but can we harness that youthful spirit forever? Are we able to recall our own hopes and dreams, and reconnect with each other?
What does it mean to be a youth today?
“My aspiration for the future is living in a joyful world…(where) people can be less stressed and always carry hope” – Enoch Chan, SLP 2020
For many summers, SVhk’s Social Leaders Programme (SLP) has provided a safe space for young students and professionals to experience work at SVhk and other partnering organisations – and more importantly, to dream: What is the future we can be proud to live in?
“Despite varying backgrounds and social contexts, it is our common search for purpose that brought us here,” says Tiffany, SLP 2015 who has since joined SVhk and is now co-leading SLP. Over the past two years, SLP has morphed from a summer leadership programme into something more responsive to the turmoils of 2019 and 2020 in Hong Kong. “We need to innovate new strategies to make change, and build new platforms for dialogue to rebuild trust with young people and truly listen to another.”
The pandemic only sharpened our commitment to embrace this new model of future-making together. In the summer of 2020, the SLP hosted our inaugural YOUth Summit over Zoom to showcase the youth’s voices and visions for the next decade, as they came together to share their respective aspirations for the future of wellness, talent, and sustainable lifestyles by 2030. We were inspired by their fresh perspectives, and openness to work towards a better future. “We are reminded once again, that there is always light in the darkness, and let’s recognise them in our lives too,” says Yiki, one of SVhk’s SLP co-organisers.
Three things we learned about YOUth:
1/ True youth engagement is about partnerships and collaborations
Every youth tells a story of self-discovery, and through SLP, we realised we have much to learn from each of their tales. Rather than seeing youth engagement as a one-way mentorship, internship or apprenticeship programme, can we rethink the mutual learning opportunities embedded in each relationship? While empowering youth to learn from more experienced practitioners, we can create opportunities for current leaders to be inspired. By fostering meaningful engagements between our current and aspiring leaders, we can leverage youthful insights for more diversified perspectives, especially in the age of digital and social transformations.
2/ C.H.A.N.G.E is the word
Combining our experiences in SLP and SVhk’s values on “head, heart, hands”, we believe that combining ideas, purpose and action is the most effective way for engaging and empowering today’s youths:
Companionship – Walk alongside each other; encourage space and flexibility for growth
Hope – Create experiences, foster feelings and a culture of “hope”
Actualisation – Provide opportunities to execute ideas that make an impact, so as to gain fulfilment
Network – Synergy through connecting like-minded youth and partners; creating community
Growth – Focus on personal development while fostering development in social issues
Energy – Doing good is rewarding; spreading and inspiring through positive energy
3/ Finding YOU in youth
Youth is not an age. It is a spirit of infinite curiosity, imagination and adventure that lives within each of us – even if this may have been a less practised part of ourselves. “Change is constant, but some core personal qualities and values don’t change,” Tiffany reflected, “(SLP) reminded me of who I have become, who I still want to be, and at the same time, who I already am.”
Whether eighteen or eighty, may we all find the will and appetite to keep a YOUthful spirit, keep learning, and keep dreaming as we grow in our own changemaking journeys.