UN ECOSOC Youth Forum

AIESEC Participates at UN ECOSOC Forum on Youth

This generation of young people – the largest the world has ever seen – has a historic opportunity to end poverty, combat climate change, create jobs and fight injustice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a Youth Forum at UN Headquarters in New York this morning as he called on the participants to get involved in shaping a future sustainable development agenda.

Today, there are 1.8 billion young people, representing one quarter of the world’s population. Many struggle to find work, and are often hit hardest in conflict. The Secretary-General says that it is time now to see this huge cohort as a force of change that harbours the ingenuity and creativity to help solve the world’s most daunting challenges.

The event started with a keynote address urging an uptick in investment for children around the world, children’s activist and 2007 International Children’s Peace Prize Winner, Thandiwe Chama, called on delegates to be “on the right side of history” and place “our rights, the rights of children and youth, at the heart of the SDG agenda.”

“There’s no doubt that young people are facing multiple challenges to meet their potential but they are not giving up,” emphasized Youth Envoy Mr. Alhendawi.

“Everywhere I go, I see how the youth want to be connected to the United Nations; they will not miss any opportunity to volunteer and to advocate. They will participate at the Model UN just to simulate what’s happening in the rooms with delegates. Today we are not simulating. This is the United Nations in action.”

As the UN representative on all things relating to young people, Mr. Alhendawi said that a “sense of ownership” is critical to the success of the future sustainable development agenda. The 1.8 billion young people worldwide are ready to “carry their share” of the post-2015 development.

AIESEC representatives Karolina Piotrowska and Tala Mansi are present at the forum to voice our opinions in the role of Youth in light of the upcoming launch of the UN SDG’s.

Tala Mansi spoke on the panel voicing “the importance of youth development, bridging the gap between employment and education, and creating individual commitment and awareness of SDG’s from the bottom up.”

The engagement of young people is key to ensuring the successes of the SDG’s as young people will be the ones implementing these large global initiatives. AIESEC has engaged tens of thousands of young people in voicing up their opinions via the YouthSpeak survey where it captures their opinions on the challenges they face in reaching their fullest potential.

We further encourage young people to take ownership of the issues they care about and not sit still waiting for change to come. As we firmly believe that the world needs new leaders and our generation are the ones who need to step up, have courage and stand up for what matters to us.

The world needs your leadership and it’s your time to step up and take responsibility. When was the last time you spoke up about issues that mattered to you?

You can learn more about the ECOSOC Youth forum here.

 

 

Charie Hebdo Paris

Living Diversity for World Peace

The World’s Very Real Need for Cultural Understanding

AIESEC emerged from a period in time when cultural understanding was at an all-time low. In the years following the Second World War, the whole of the European continent was ravaged to the ground. Each nation was coping with its own grave losses, and between all countries there was tremendous disconnect. Not only was there pressure to educate and create individuals capable of rebuilding their countries, there was also the very real need to repair damaged European relations.

Looking at the world today, one can’t help but notice striking similarities. Devastation, turmoil, anger, despair—none of these are strangers to us, even though it has been seventy years since the end of what is dubbed the deadliest conflict in human history.

Furthermore, what the world suffers from today is not the disconnection within a continent, but rather, the tensions within an entire planet. We suffer today from disconnect between continents, between nations, within countries, within communities. We are suffering from differences in ideology, in religion, and in culture. And it is becoming abundantly clear that such differences can have fatal consequences.

In the first week of January, the world was deeply shaken by the Charlie Hebdo shooting that occurred in Paris—an event that has resulted in global repercussions for numerous other nations. It has also drawn attention to a number of ongoing conflicts throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

In the days that followed, the world saw two categories of reactions: outbreaks of conflict and marches of solidarity.

In the week that followed the shootings, fifty-four anti-Muslim attacks were reported in France. Conflicts escalated in reaction to Charlie Hebdo’s resumed publication with the controversial cover—in Niger, violent protests resulted in the deaths of ten people, with dozens injured, and a number of churches burned. Similar protests also occurred in Pakistan and Algeria.

Meanwhile, over 100,000 people in France took to the streets for candlelit vigils in demonstrations of solidarity. The slogan, “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie in French), became simultaneously an endorsement from freedom of speech and a way to honour the victims of the shooting. Similar vigils took place all over the globe in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, to name a few. In what officials called the largest public rally in France since World War II, up to two million people marched in a ‘unity rally’, joined by more than 40 world leaders.

Two weeks ago, a youth was stabbed to death in Dresden, Germany—a city that has been the hotbed for anti-immigrant and ‘anti-Islamisation’ movements by the organization PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, in German). This, in turn, has resulted in numerous counter-demonstrations across the country against racism, calling for cultural acceptance and tolerance.

Looking at these stories, a ripple effect becomes clear—the current issues now are either recurring or ongoing reactions to other issues. The stories become convoluted into an overarching narrative of conflict. We must understand, however, that intolerance is equivalent to blindness. With cultural tensions on the rise, how are we to reconcile our differences?

What would the world be like if instead of differences, we choose to see similarities? Like the unity rally, which brought masses of people and a multitude of nations together—for the first time since the Second World War!—what would the world be like if we reveled in diversity, instead of seeking to destroy it?

We return again to the original mission of AIESEC: “to expand the understanding of a nation by expanding the understanding of the individuals, changing the world one person at a time”. As stated in our “Why We Do What We Do” video, “When you see the world, you can begin to understand it. And when we understand it, we can begin to change it.”

It’s a big world out there, made up of many, many individuals—7 billion of them, to be exact. Here in AIESEC, one of our six core values is Living Diversity. We believe that everyone, because of their own culture and place in life, has something valuable to offer, and we seek to encourage the contribution of each individual.

Each and every one of us has a choice every day—will you choose peace?

Happy Holidays AIESEC

Happy Holidays

Give the gift of gratitude

Did you know? Giving gratitude and happiness is linked. Give thanks and warm wishes to those who have helped empower you to become the person you are today. It is in these special moments of peace and warmth where we can find joy and rekindled bonds that fuel us for the coming new year.

To start it off, we give our sincerest thanks to all of our tens of thousands of volunteers, employees, alumni and partners who enable us to create our impact on the lives of so many young people around the world. AIESEC is driven by passionate people who believe in making the world a more peaceful place and we couldn’t do any of this without you.

Send your appreciation to loved ones and make their day even brighter. We’ve left you a video on the science of happiness that brings a heart-touching message, prepare to tear up!

Happy holidays from AIESEC.

Julia Bacha TEDx

TEDx talks that inspire a different perspective on World Peace

We live in a world where seemingly small things like intolerance and misunderstanding of people’s differences have caused large-scale conflict, destruction and even wars. World peace can seem like an impossible thing, but we at AIESEC interpret it a little differently. ‘Peace’ should not be interpreted necessarily as absence of a major war. ‘Peace’ symbolizes a world that does not have conflicts that arise from cultural, religious, or other aspects of differences in humanity.

In short, we need to learn how to respect and understand these differences as human beings.

We’ve pulled together a series of TED talks for you listen and watch to inspire new ways of thinking on the roadmap to peace.

In the Road to Peace playlist on TED, “these speakers offer inspired ideas, practical advice and real-world examples from around the globe of how it just might be attainable.”

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 1997 for her work toward the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines advocates for society to have a more realistic vision of world peace. The talk focuses on rethinking world peace to human security, and enabling people to live dignified lives. Watch it here

Scilia Elworthy a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and founder of Oxford Research Group that seeks to develop effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics, talks about how to deal with extreme violence without using force in return. Exploring the themes of how to overcome bullies ranging from countries to individuals without any violence in return. Watch it here

Julia Bacha a filmmaker who produced Budhrus discusses the power of attention, and how we often media and audiences pay attention to the violence, but not the non-violent leaders and peacemakers of the Middle East region that may very well bring peace to the region. Bacha advocates for us to pay attention to nonviolence. Watch it here

Progress will come, when all of humanity is awakened, moved to take action and not idly sit by to wait for change. We must be brave, but also patient in seeking cross-cultural understanding amongst people and nations.

What actions will you take to make yourself a better person and be the leader who can help make the world a better place?

One of the best ways to gain a new understanding of the world is to live, volunteer or work abroad. Learn more on how you can get involved in our student programmes that offer global experiences to create positive change in communities and on yourself.

The Skills of 2020 and Changing Leadership

The societies we live in today are vastly different from what they were twenty, or even ten, years ago. The pace of the world is increasing exponentially, due to technology and its effects on the daily life of human beings. The most prevalent of these effects is no doubt the capacity for global connection.

TIME Magazine recently published an article with an infographic detailing the projected ten most important work skills required for the workplace in the year 2020 — which alarmingly, is only a little over five years away. Five years might feel a long way away for now, but in today’s fast-paced society, time flies.

2020 skills

Success lies in preparation, and so we must ask ourselves, what does this mean for today’s skills training and how we can keep up for 2020?

What may set the individual or leader apart is the ability to adapt and innovate, a keenness for learning, and zero tolerance for complacency.

There are a number of things expected to change by 2020, including increased longevity (longer life spans), the heightened role that technology and computation will play in our personal and professional lives, and intensified globalization. Simply put, the world is finding ways to do things better and to get more out of it. If we are optimistic, we can expect to live in an “improved” society by 2020.

For leaders, however, it is important to realize that this improvement begins right now at this moment, not five years later. When the skills of 2020 demands people to own a wider sense of social intelligence, computational thinking, cross cultural competency. In addition, it requires leaders to be capable of new media literacy, virtual collaboration, and transdisciplinary work — the learning curve begins now.

Those we deem worthy of leadership are those who are “one step ahead”, and who are “leading the way”. They are the ones who are willing to take risks and able to adapt to change, and in doing so, become role models for those who wish to follow.

Leaders in today’s world must have a solid knowledge of both the past and a future, and secure understanding of where they themselves fit in between or bridge the gap. The world is expanding, and people need to grow along with it — as the world becomes better, so must we.

Here at AIESEC, we also wanted to identify some of the top skills young people were wanting to develop today, and our YouthSpeak survey with 25,000 millennial respondents showed that leadership / team management, new languages, critical thinking and problem solving skills were still the most in-demand to help them get ahead over the next few years.

The skills you need today versus in the future are rapidly changing. Are you prepared for the skills of 2020?

Tweet us @AIESEC or comment below

Top 5 Things Keeping Youth Complacent

Hi, I’m Jessie, and I’m part of the North American millennial generation. And as someone who identifies as part of this generation, I have no problem telling you that I believe complacency runs rampant among North American youth. This is not a particularly new idea; we’ve heard before that millennials are notorious for being narcissistic and lazy, and while studies on millennials in society report mixed results, there is no doubt that we, as a generation, are struggling to find our place in the world.

What is often overlooked here though, is how destructive complacency can be to the individual. To become complacent is to stop growing, and when there is stagnation, there is no progress, and thereby no success. Here are the top 5 things stopping millennials from engaging, and essentially keeping us from reaching our full potential.

Entitlement

Often, entitlement shapes our thinking in way that we don’t even realize. We have grown up as the most privileged youth in the world, and it’s very easy to get stuck thinking we have everything, this is all there is, and that we “deserve” this and that. (Indeed, one of the nicknames for the millennial generation is the “Most Coddled Generation”.)

As North Americans youth who have all been recipients to education, and so on, we all fall prey sometimes to the Western point of view—a worldview that has historically disregards all other cultural thought. This thinking dictates—and dare I say, can cripple—our reactions to other cultures, and limits us from cultural understanding.

Disillusionment

Sometimes, youth can’t be bothered about active participation because they do not believe that they can make a difference. They don’t see the value of their individual active engagement. “I’m just one of many”, “Who really cares?” — these thoughts perpetuate a cycle of indifference and inaction.

What’s more, in today’s society, it’s almost cool not to care—or rather, it’s only ‘cool’ to care about certain things. Regardless, this feeling of disillusionment is reflected in the number of youth voters in elections in recent years, which are disappointingly low. Youth need to understand that their age cannot keep them down. They need to be shown, and not just told, their value to society, and be motivated to become worthy of it.

Ignorance

The lack of understanding — true understanding, which requires time and effort on the part of the individual — is perhaps the reason for many problems today. In an era of information, it is just as likely to receive false information as it is true. What’s more, with everyone’s biases, it’s very easy to let someone else make the judgement for you. In doing this, we relinquish the responsibility and thereby the consequences of potentially being wrong.

This ignorance extends itself to all the many ways we interact with society itself. It affects the way we view the world, our willingness to experience it, and also the way we view ourselves. We become less effective as contributors to society when we are unaware of society and our own role within.

Individualism

The millennial generation grew up hearing about how each of are special and unique, and will go on one day to change the world and whatnot because no one is exactly like us. It’s not a far stretch to see this is not true—at least, not innately. We make ourselves special, and whatever impact we make on the world is a result of us actually consciously demonstrating effort and passion, and working hard at it.

Having been constantly told how unique we are has led us to become more self-centred. We play more value on our own careers than on society, failing to make the realization that both are interconnected. While individuality is by no means inconsequential, millennials need to realize that our individuality both enhances and is enhanced by the society and context we are placed. in.

Technology

Millennials have grown up with a society that has become increasingly saturated with technology in all its various forms. What we have not been prepared for, however, is the adverse effect that technology has had on the interactions between people in real life. When online communication takes precedent, it is at the expense of affecting people’s ability to truly connect with someone in person, offline. We lack intention by letting technology do all the talking for us.

Stop and think, who are we, outside of our social media profiles and what we share online? How would people view us, had we not Facebook, or Twitter, or the numerous other social platforms? It is the lack of questioning that leads to things like slacktivism, where we share things not only because we care, but because we want others to know it.

The world has a lot of say about the millennial generation. Our expectations in life are different are those of our parents. We are lazy, passionate, impatient, ambitious, open-minded, and disengaged all at once. Having been told to “follow your dream” has led us to become more lost than ever. Youth engagement in society has been steadily decreasing; North American youth are complacent.

What, then, is the solution?

There is a quote that states: “We must take adventures in order to know where we truly belong.” Never has that statement been more true than today. In exploring the world, one gains more knowledge of different cultures, and understanding of where they fit in the world. A wider perspective will also let one see the importance and value of things.

What’s more, this “world” doesn’t necessarily mean jumping on a plane and flying all around the globe. It can be a simple as stepping outside of your comfort zone to shake up your own worldview a little bit. It’s important to ask questions, but equally important to go and find out the answers yourself. Being aware is only the first step.

Youth on the Move

Do you know anyone who has gone abroad for any internship, youth program or university scholarship? Have you ever seen any foreigners in your own country? Have you at least once searched online about work, study or travel abroad opportunities?

Well, let’s face it, we have all answered yes at least once, if not three times. Countless organizations and agencies are fighting for the attention of middle or upper class students and graduates with their wide “go abroad” portfolio. Universities themselves are also not falling behind. Students are often exposed to exchange students and programs and encouraged to study abroad as well. Every young person entering a job market knows now that an international experience is not an extra asset anymore, it’s a must.

Scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed, many travel opportunities pop out everyday. Conferences, projects, exchange programs, and cheap airlines offering flights to other continents for 200 euros. Than switching to Instagram. Pictures from Erasmus, long weekend vacations, or hitchhiking trips by my peers. We are determined to travel and experience the world; it’s trendy, it’s necessary, and it makes life more exciting. Almost 23% of YouthSpeak respondents are listing global opportunities as the most important thing they will be looking for after graduation and more than 45% of those surveyed list travelling the world as their current priority in life.

 

Conclusions? Well, the capacity of young people to move between different countries, regions and cultures has never been easier and more desirable than it is now. But what’s in it besides selfies with pyramids and macaroons in Paris? Changes in society and economy, and a hell of a lot of them.

Global Talent Management

How can businesses attract and retain talents in the era of youth who want to explore as much of the world as possible in their 20s? Campus recruitment and career fairs may not be enough soon unless you are proposing a truly global experience which will be challenging enough for a millennial to stay in the company for a while. Youth simply needs to be enabled to move. So talent managers around the world — brace yourself for innovating on new sourcing solutions!

Recovery from Current Economic Situation

Take an example from Spain, where more than 55% of youth are unemployed. As a result, educated youth need to leave in search of better job opportunities. But this way, the country will not recover since it cannot keep the best and most educated talent. On the other hand, they are also not ready to receive this amount of talent. Another consequence is that this youth will not contribute with taxes which could help in rebuilding economy. Youth mobility can influence your country more than you think.

Social integration

By bringing youth together through different exchange programs and projects, we can enhance social integration. There is no better way for one to understand a foreign culture than to experience it on your own. It supports intercultural dialog and eases the adaptation of youth to new environments. As a result, we can predict a more tolerant, understanding, and peaceful world.

 

Youth mobility is a complex matter and like everything, has its pros and cons. But there is one thing I know for sure, youth is on the move. And they are unstoppable.

5 things Millennials Care About the Most

We call them lazy and demanding. We judge them and find them narcissistic. However looking at raw data they are not so bad after all. Here are 5 things that millennials care about the most nowadays, according to the YouthSpeak survey powered by AIESEC.

1 . Gaining new skills

New gadgets, iPhones and tablets are not the only thing millennials care about. They are also eager to learn and experience more. Fifty percent of surveyed youth listed gaining new skills and abilities as their top priority. This indicates their awareness of the importance of soft and hard skills. They know that studying from books is not the only way of learning and more than 70% of the surveyed youth prefer to learn by doing and trying.

2. Finishing University

Nearly half of the surveyed young people are willing to finish their studies. There was some concern because last year’s education has been failing to help students in developing useful skills and preparing graduates for entering the job market, but on the other hand, millennials still have belief in education and are not giving up quickly.

3. Travelling the world

Volunteering abroad, internships, scholarships, work and travel. These are only a few ways to experience and taste the world. Globalization means the world is shrinking and international experience is becoming a must-have in a resume of each millennial.

4. Making the world a better place

Millennial youth believe that the world can be changed and they know they can be the ones changing it. What has always been fascinating about this generation is that they are beyond ambitious and that they believe more in their capabilities than other generations.

5. Starting their own business

Here’s to the entrepreneurial outlook. More than 20% of surveyed youth so far lists starting or growing own business as their top priority in life right now. Trends show that over the next 5 and 10 years more than 60% of youth want to become entrepreneurs. The increased demand for entrepreneurship may push employers to make their workplaces less structured, hierarchical and rigid to enable entrepreneurial talent to thrive.

 

Fill in the YouthSpeak survey by November 30th to help us create data that speaks for young people with aims to align and find solutions to improve both education and employment. Over 17,000 youth voices have been heard, it’s your turn.

Complete the survey: Do it here
More Information: YouthSpeak Survey

Malala’s Nobel Peace Prize: Seventeen Years of an Admirable Story

More or less seventeen years ago, in Mingora, the largest city in the Pakistani district of Swat, a baby girl was born. The date was precisely July 12th and she was welcomed by her family with great love and joy. It is interesting to imagine, so many years afterwards, that the whole world would hold the same sentiments towards this girl, perhaps also with an additional touch of hope and pride.

Malala Yousafzai has earned the admiration of many people around the globe as a result of her actions and the way she has conducted her life towards one objective, and one objective only, since she was born: “my mission is to help people”, she said once during an interview with BBC. This goal–her life goal–has remained steadfast and the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize she received on October 10th proves this better than anything else.

Get to know Malala

Malala may be a schoolgirl, but she was never little. Or at least, not in the childish sense of the word. Growing up in a family where education has always been praised, Malala values the importance of learning, and this has not changed even with the political instability in her country. In particular, the Taliban is known for its violent activity in the Middle East and also for their extreme interpretation of Islam, which they use to validate their own operations. As a matter of fact, a number of the group’s arbitrarily cruel actions are related to the oppression of women.

When Malala first heard that she was not allowed to attend school because she was a girl, she could have just looked down and obeyed, as so many other girls did. At first glance, her calm face and peaceful eyes may demonstrate that she is more likely to remain quiet than express her own ideas out loud. However, for Malala (and, to be honest, to me and a good deal of other people I know as well), the idea of keeping women in the shadows simply did not make sense.  How could girls not be allowed to go to school? Unfortunately  for the Taliban, school was exactly where Malala wanted to be, and she decided to spread her will to the world.

I am Malala

At the age of eleven, Malala wrote a blog for the BBC about her day-to-day life under the Taliban occupation and her subsequent desire for things to change. As she spoke for herself, Malala was also speaking up for a generation of young girls and women who are prevented every day from entering into an education institution due to the simple fact that they are female. “All I want is education”, she cried, and thousands around the world stepped forward to support this statement.

Sadly, in October 9th of 2012, Malala’s voice was almost shut down. After hearing someone call her name, she became the victim of a murder attempt. One of three bullets hit Malala and for some time the world wondered, concerned, if this little girl of big actions would become just another addition to the sad statistics.  Meanwhile, while Malala was fighting for her life, different people and organizations everywhere used the tragedy as a turning point to further the fight for women’s rights and increase opportunities for equal education.

One of the most significant instances of this was the UN petition signed by Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, which urged that every child in the world should be in school by the end of 2015. The petition used the slogan “I am Malala”, which reached all corners of the globe, and had a huge influence in the ratification of the first Right to Education Bill in Pakistan.

Malala’s legacy

Perhaps all of these positive reactions had something to do with Malala’s recovery. In 2013, she celebrated her birthday, perfectly well, by giving a speech at the UN Headquarters. Her words requested universal access to education and demonstrated that bullets will never be able to stop the struggle for a better world.

“I am very thankful that people in Pakistan and people around the world on the next day [of the shooting] raised up their voices; they spoke for their rights. Malala was only hurt in Pakistan, but now she was hurt in every corner of the world”, she said in an interview for BBC, only one year after the attempt on her life.

Some time later, the Nobel Prize committee announced that the recipient of the Peace Award of this year had a familiar name. Together with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian activist who works for children’s rights, Malala is sharing the $1.1 million prize and the honour and prestige of the world’s most famous distinction. The nomination states that both deserve the recognition “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.

These fancy words do justice to the beautiful actions of this seventeen year old, who is the youngest Nobel prize winner in history. In the battle for equal education opportunity, Malala is clearly unafraid of being in the vanguard. Today, AIESEC congratulates Malala and wonders about the future: what else she will do, and for the first time? Personally, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

AIESEC Berlin Wall WWII

25 Years Fall of the Berlin Wall – stories of AIESEC’s youth of 1989

The first thing you get to know when you hear about AIESEC is that it was established in 1948 with the aim of creating a new leaders’ generation: the generation which would avoid the Second World War’s horrors.

Years have passed, but our motto is still the same: “Peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential

But in the 1989, the risk of a third world war loomed like never before, and the epicentre, was once again, in Berlin.

Luckily things went differently: the wall fell down and the iron curtain itself was down for good. After one of the most dreadful times in our history there has come a new chapter in the life of many people, and AIESEC was there.

Stefano Boccaletti, Leonardo Cullurà and Claudia Siracusa, three generations of leaders were in Berlin of the night of November 19, 989.

A month ago I had the pleasure to meet them and to hear their stories.

Claudia started up:

“I just became an AIESEC member and I had to find an excuse to justify my getaway in the middle of semester. I told my father that I had been awarded with a journey for my scholar merits, but the lie was definitely worth it!!!”

For Stefano that would have been one of his last international meetings since he was close to the end of his term and he wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

“The night of the 9th of November, was set in my AIESECers’ agenda as an outdoor global pyjama’s party. Suddenly, someone started shouting in German, that “the wall is being demolished”. None of the Italian delegates could speak German but it didn’t take long for us to understand what was happening.”

Leonardo told us that they have managed to steal a street sign to use it as a hammer. Suddenly they saw Claudia jumping on the wall and singing it with a few Danish.

The emotion and the trembling voice while telling us the story is beyond imagination.

The year after that, Claudia has become the AIESEC Brescia’s Local Chapter President, while Leonardo was voted the President  of AIESEC in Italy. In their motivational speeches they both reminded that it is us, young people, who can change the future.

Ana Julea, AIESEC in Italy

See the inspiring story of AIESEC’s first Secretary General, Victor Loewenstein:

Victor Loewenstein’s Berlin Wall Story