Monday, August 18, 2014

International Youth Day – Myitkyina, 12th August 2014

Thirteen year old Mai Zinbu from Kachin, won first prize in the essay competition during the celebrations for International Youth Day in Myitkyina Township in Kachin State. ©UNICEF Myanmar/2014
“The world changes with your example, not with your opinions”: that’s what I found written on a wall somewhere during a trip in Central America. I was still a student, my last year of University. And that sentence contributed to inspiring all the following steps I’ve taken. That’s why probably it came back to my mind today, entering the compound of Myitkyina University.

The amount of dreams dreamt inside the wall of such an institution is enormous, the power of ideals and the willingness of bringing the change, of being the change is stronger than ever. And it’s simply astonishing realizing how this is the same everywhere across the world.

Around 500 adolescents and youths from Myitkyina and surroundings gathered today to celebrate the International Youth Day. The University compound here is built around what once was an airstrip, and is now an immense area where you can find a carpet of motorbikes – as in every university compound around the world – and cows hanging around in the grass – this, a little bit more rare.

Talking to young boys and girls of this rapidly changing Myanmar is breath-taking: the same dreams, the same ideals, the same willingness to change things I had, but coming from a different perspective and a different consciousness.

Those who want to become a doctor want to do it to give access to health to their poorest neighbors and to the most disadvantaged people in their country; those who want to become engineers want it to build roads and bridges, or to bring new technologies, in any case to shorten distances, be they geographical or cognitive. They’re only 12 or 13 years old and they already know that the issue of equity is the key: they don’t need us to explain this to them.

They are aware, passionate, and thirsty for new knowledge. It really seemed like they had been waiting for this day for a long time, to express themselves and to show their parents – teachers – professors – State authorities who they are, how much they care, and how much they need to be involved and give their perspective in the decision making process that is ultimately going to influence their future.

These young people we’ve met today don’t share simple opinions: they are already the example that is going to change Myanmar!
The author : Claudia Truppa is Health and Nutrition Officer for UNICEF Myanmar

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