Written by Ariel Tsai
Edited by Dilber Shatursun
On December 19, 2020, the Tzu Chi Youth Leaders Fellowship Programme hosted the last of three Youth Future Global Dialogues, the thematic virtual series in collaboration with the UN75 initiative which aims to inspire youth to co-create the future. High school and college students from all over the world participated. The dialogue began with a panel discussion amongst guest speakers.
They included Kevin Ezzell, Program Director of Lehigh University’s 1-MBA program; Jess Zier, Regional Outreach Associate at Minerva Schools at KGI; and Joe Huang, the senior representative of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation’s Religious Affairs Department. The dialogue was moderated by Roger Chou and Elaine Cheng, two Tzu Chi volunteers from California.
The three panelists were asked about what global cooperation looks like to them, and how digital innovation can be leveraged in the building of a sustainable future and promotion of increased global cooperation. They also talked about the challenges to sustainable development and global cooperation posed by digital innovation. Participants then broke out into groups to discuss their own takes on the discussed theme of “Global Cooperation in a Limitless Digital Future.”
All three guest speakers emphasized the importance of leveraging digital technology for the purposes of greater global cooperation. They discussed the complexities of how digital means have changed the way we relate to one another: distance and time are no longer the obstacles they once were, and there is more knowledge available to us than ever before. They did concede, however, that inequities still exist and are continually growing primarily as a result of lack of access to these technologies. They were also asked to give suggestions on what kinds of small but impactful individual actions youth could take moving forward to contribute to a more sustainable future.
The participants broke out into groups to discuss their thoughts on the addressed topics just as they had during the previous two dialogues, taking place in October and November, but this time, there was an added objective: to think of and commit to some small changes that youth can make to work towards the future we want to see. Participants suggested actions such as volunteering locally, donating to charity, using social media to raise awareness about issues, and thinking more consciously about consumption choices.
Now that all three dialogues are complete, participant responses and ideas from the entire event will be compiled and then submitted for consideration to the UN. During the first dialogue, panelist Dustin Liu expressed that “In 2045, I hope that all young people see themselves as problem solvers; problem solvers for our world’s most complex and pressing issues.” This sentiment is one clearly reflected by the very existence of these dialogues.
As such, this event, planned for young people by young people, is a sign of hope. It proved that youth are passionate and enthusiastic about critical global issues. More importantly, it showed that young people are motivated to solve these problems, to show up, as well as inspire others around them to act. Though there is still much work to do, it is clear that the future is in good hands.