Over the past several years, the social consciousness, civic engagement, and entrepreneurial spirit of young people have increased dramatically as Millennials and Gen Z take over and lead many cause movements around the world – from gender equality to climate change.
It is not a surprise then that we are seeing a greater number of programs and initiatives to help develop youth’s capacity to take on these challenges and direct their energy and passion towards creating innovative solutions to global problems.
At the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, we are proud to have engaged over 20,000 youth from 160 countries around the world through our flagship program, The Youth Assembly, since 2004. Through this platform, we have discovered and learned from our youth delegates the kind of opportunities they wish to have in order to help them succeed in their endeavors.
If you are a young leader seeking what is needed to help you further your goals, here are some ideas you can explore:
Connect with experts
There is nothing more valuable than building key relationships that could be instrumental to your growth as a young leader. Finding these connections may be intimidating or complicated, but if you find yourself meeting the right people at the right place, initiating a conversation with them can be a transformative opportunity.
“You may not realize it, but at The Youth Assembly, you are one handshake, one conversation, one business card away from living the life you have envisioned for yourself and the people around you.” – Rebakaone Bowe
Our youth delegates have benefited from participating in our Global Development Leadership Series (GDL Series), where they can engage in a dialogue with high-level officials or staff from major world-changing organizations and get a glimpse of their daily work. This February, our GDL Series takes our youth delegates through the iconic meeting chambers of the UN headquarters to the halls of Permanent Missions to the UN, where vital world decisions have taken place. Youth delegates will be able to meet diplomats and other professionals working in international affairs and discuss issues of global significance. Previous visits have brought our youth delegates into the World Bank, UNA USA, US Institute for Peace, International Finance Corporation, and many others.
Exchange with your peers
By simply talking with someone who may be coming from a different background or experience, you can gain more perspective and understanding on issues you care about. Sharing knowledge and skills or even collaborating with your fellow young leaders can be an inspiring and meaningful exercise to help you achieve your goals.
“As a delegate, I was honored to experience the power of meeting other dynamic young leaders to share my potential projects and to learn theirs. It is a unique feeling to physically meet people from around the world who have a vision and an unquenchable desire for change! Wow, what an experience indeed!” – Edward Kuisseu Tatchim
As part of the GDL Series, our youth delegates partake in hands-on discussions and activities in small groups, which allows for further, in-depth, and more personal interaction and learning. One of the highlights of the GDL Series this past August was a UN Security Council simulation run and informed by Council on Foreign Relations, as well as working groups to explore topics on international affairs, global economy, and human development. Through these settings, delegates have discovered the advantage of learning with and from their peers.
Build your network
With each and every interaction that you make comes the added challenge of retaining these connections to build your network. While it’s easier nowadays to make contacts online, having face-to-face conversations are much more meaningful and can make a huge difference in securing those connections.
At The Youth Assembly, we do our best to facilitate network-building through the Opportunities Fair, where our youth delegates can engage with representatives of impactful NGOs, universities, corporations, and agencies to learn more about volunteer programs, internships, projects, campaigns, and other opportunities, outside of the conference. Previous exhibitors included Idealist, Council on Foreign Relations, Schwarzman Scholars, Terracycle, SDSN Youth, UNICEF USA, UNFPA, HeForShe, New York University, Fordham University, and many more.
“It was an unforgettable experience to see people from various cultures and backgrounds working together toward a common goal and living peacefully side by side. I feel like we have created a network that can impact the world.” – Thayssa Machado
Form real friendships for change
At the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, we believe in the power of friendship in transforming our communities into a more peaceful and sustainable society. This is why promoting friendship is at the core of everything we do as we bring people together in various ways.
When young leaders relate at this level, their bond and ability to collaborate with another human being become stronger, which helps drive their purpose and their mission.
“I think the best thing I got from this experience was family. Family from each and every corner of the world.” – Vaania Kapoor
As part of the GDL Series, our youth delegates celebrate their newfound connections through unique social and cultural events, which have previously included special performances, boat cruises, gala, and dinners. Through these activities beyond the conference, delegates make global friendships that last a lifetime.
Immerse yourself in a new environment
Aside from the value of making great connections, the majority of our youth delegates travel from around the world with the goal of experiencing different cultures outside of their home country. Exposing yourself in a new environment opens a whole world of possibilities to gain new skills and overcome barriers to your personal and professional growth. Our GDL Series is designed to offer just that – an experience particularly ideal to globetrotters and young leaders who are seeking to broaden their horizons.
“The Youth Assembly was the right kick I needed to get out of my comfort zone and effect global change. And that’s what it did!” – Thandokuhle Mandla Kasibante David
It’s becoming increasingly important to develop programs that equip young people with the critical skills needed in a globalizing world. Our GDL Series prepares our youth delegates for the flagship conference and beyond by providing ways to enhance their leadership skills through a variety of approaches.
As a complement to The Youth Assembly, the GDL Series brings together young leaders in a comprehensive program combining organizational visits, in-depth discussions, and group activities through the heart of New York City – all alongside a tightly-knit cohort of young leaders from around the world. From connecting with experts to forming global friendships, the GDL Series gives young leaders not only a platform for self-improvement but a door to a life-changing experience.