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“Strengthening Youth Leadership for Community Development and Peace” Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by VOICEMASTER, Philippines Jan 13, 2003
Human Rights   Opinions
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We as youth must use our creativity, idealism, and energy to work for non-violence in our homes, schools communities, countries, and the world. "Developing Student Leaders Toward a Century of Peace and Humanity." My talk will focus on our theme “Developing Student Leaders Towards a Century of Peace and Humanity”. “Think globally, act locally” is an appealing maxim, but the advice falls short. We live in a world where our best friends live on different continents. No longer is it logical to say, "Charity begins at home." Instead, our work for human dignity and human rights must be carried on everywhere at once. To create a global culture of peace, youth of the new millennium must think and act both "global" and "local" concurrently. Youth with a burning inner aspiration to see a global culture of peace must seek opportunities and relationships in which to demonstrate peace. I believe that the basis for building a global culture of peace is for each of us to reach out and touch the lives of as many people as possible in an attitude of love and tolerance. To achieve this objective, young people must work contemporaneously in 3 spheres: local, national, and global. Locally, we can create our own community-based peace or youth clubs and/or we can join founded clubs and organizations within schools which promote peace, environmental advocacy, peer mediation, and youth empowerment. In these clubs youth and students can learn about peace and then go a step further to educate others by organizing peace walks, writing letters, distributing petitions, planting peace gardens, writing poetry and essays about peace to present during school or community assemblage, sponsoring peace essay, quiz show, debate and art contests, writing peace plays to present to the public, and/or publishing our own newspapers, just like what my school organization “Up Tangway” was doing. Aside from peace clubs, we can create service clubs. These organizations would unite and empower youth across racial, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic lines to work for multicultural harmony through volunteerism. Youth would meet to have fun, learn about each other's differences and similarities, assess the needs of the community, and then go out "diverse but united" into our neighborhoods to meet those needs. Our multicultural cohesiveness and desire to help the community would serve as an example that all peoples can work together to create a culture of peace. We could raise money for our service projects and raise community awareness of global cultures simultaneously by sponsoring international youth forums, multicultural folk dance exhibitions, foreign language fairs, art fairs with a multicultural theme, foreign film festivals, and peace concerts featuring ethnic music. While acting at the local level, young people must also act at the national level to promote peace. Letters, phone calls, emails or even text messages and petitions to Congressmen and the President make a difference. Youth can join national organizations, such as Philippine Jaycees, which have chapters in different provinces. We can join other national organizations, such as the National Youth Commission which sponsor national-level youth action councils, youth conventions, youth forums, youth summits and youth parliaments linking young people across the country to lobby and advocate for human rights, stricter gun laws, disarmament, hate crime legislation, etc. Last week, the 4th National Youth Parliament (NYP) was held in Cagayan De Oro City, in Mindanao and it was a successful one. It is a biennial assembly of youth representing the various sub-sectors and geographical groupings nationwide to develop a legislative-executive agenda for youth development. In addition, there are national internships, interfaith programs, summer camps, summer institutes and online discussions -- all of which educate youth about peace and give us the tools and training to speak out and take action. In addition to working locally and nationally, we must work internationally. The Internet is a great tool for building world peace and youth empowerment. We can create our own web pages to promote global peace. Youth can develop international solidarity by participating in online discussions, such as those held by Takingitglobal.org and Youth Action Net. Org where I was one of the featured youth leaders. We can use the Internet to connect with international youth organizations such as Advocates for youth, International Student Activism Alliance, and Global Youth Action Network. Unfortunately, computers and Internet access are not available to many youth, especially in third-world countries. This elimination in a technology-driven global community is equivalent to withholding humanitarian aid to victims of famine. Therefore, one of the major tasks for youth wanting to ensure world peace is to find creative solutions to this imbalance. We could "encourage" generosity from big computer companies by

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