International Youth Day: The greatest gathering of Thai youth for transforming education

I am Amina Noureen from Pakistan. I’m currently studying at the School of Global Studies (SGS), an international program at Thammasat University in Thailand that promotes skills and active project-based learning. During the summer, I was doing my internship with the Asia-Pacific Interagency Network on Youth (APINY) and UNICEF where I was lucky to be one of the six undergraduate students who organized this year’s IYD event in Bangkok supported by the UN.

I could tell you my experience and all the hard work that went into designing a space for youth to speak for change as they explored the issues of Thai education and opened windows of possibilities and opportunities using design thinking tools. But I’d rather focus on the exciting people I met and the opportunities that went on during the event. I was fortunate enough to talk to many different people – from panelists to guest speakers, and from booth organizers to the core team organizing everything.

Job Tabamo BarallasIYD participants, UN staff, and organizing team at UNESCO, Bangkok

The first person I talked with was Ding Long Pham who is working with Youth Co-Lab at UNDP. Pham spoke on a panel about 21st-century skills and entrepreneurship. He explained social entrepreneurship to me as ‘‘a company that balances social impact, profit, people, and the planet.’’

Majoring in Social Entrepreneurship, I found his explanation very simple yet effective and it summarizes the spirit of social entrepreneurship to people who are familiar with this mindset or not.

The same vibe attracts the same tribe. Bringing youth together created a learning and supportive atmosphere for the whole event. We also helped them connect with other youths who share the same dreams, the same passions, and care about the same social issues. – Suchat Niha (Thammasat University student and UNICEF Intern)

The second person I got the opportunity to learn from was from China. Chong Zheng Wei spoke on the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) panel. Wei is strongly committed to CSE and the promotion of an inclusive environment for LGBTQ youth.

Job Tabamo BarallasChong Zheng Wei speaking at the panel discussion on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)

He discussed his work at UNESCO’s regional Bangkok office on revising and designing a curriculum to teach children about sexuality from home. The program aims to ensure the inclusiveness of people beyond mainstream orientations. My favorite part was learning about the importance of system-level policy changes and how to strengthen them by connecting the UN platforms to county-level government institutions.

The third interesting experience was with Michou-Eymard Tchana-Hyman from the Jump Foundation that promotes experiential education and runs adventure programs for international schools. I had the chance to engage in a game with other students on the role of communication, leadership, and empathy.

The fourth unique person I met was Hassan Ghiassi, the Founder of Aristotle’s Café, a communication platform that provides a safe space for people to engage in difficult conversations and improve their communication skills.

Amina NoureenSorting out the ideas in the idea generation process

Finally, Suchat Niha (Tem) a classmate and co-worker who currently is sharing the same internship at UNICEF described the motivation of Thai students to join the event. ‘‘First of all, youth participants are from all over Thailand,” he told me. “Some of them traveled from the Northeast while some came all the way from the South. When I asked what motivated them to join this distant event, all of them mentioned the same thing: ‘‘to change Thai education.”

Tem further shared his experience running the workshop with students for the whole day that made him realize that plenty of youth out there are not part of an education system that they think is effective enough. Yet, many youths out there have potential, passion, and great ideas. However, what they lack is an opportunity to speak up and share their thoughts. That’s why they feel thankful to have an event like this because they can express themselves and more importantly they can see themselves as a crucial part in changing education.

I strongly believe that this is a noteworthy event not only for young Thais but for every young person in Southeast Asia. At the end of the day, we need to hear from youth as much as adults want us to hear from them. Therefore, we can ensure a society where people listen to each other, care for one another, and includes everyone.

Interest in future opportunities? Visit Youth Opportunities

This post was co-authored with Suchat Niha.

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