The first digital tribe wants to change the world
JAIME G. MORAJAIMEGMORA / SPECIAL ENVOY TO TARRYTOWN (NEW YORK)
Day 08/09/2014 - 11:06 a.m.
75 representatives of the largest youth generation in history meet in New York to reclaim its prominence to the challenges of the future
The Alliance of Civilizations brought together 75 young people from different countries of the worldIt says to youth that they are the future. It says to rulers, listen to young people."You are the future!" Cries Alhendawi Ahmad, an special UN youth envoy, who has removed his tie. The young people occasionally interrupt with applause. "No matter what your race is, but what you have in common." Anastasiia Borynets applauds, who made the revolution in Ukraine . "We live in an age in which one can speak of values such as equality, human rights ..." says Lushinsky Yaniv, an Israeli who works for the rights of homosexuals. "You have to create your own opportunities, invent new jobs." Christian Rusangwa Applauds, who works for reconciliation in Rwanda.
In Tarrytown, New York, the Alliance of Civilizations has gathered for a week, with the collaboration of EF Education First language school, 75 young people from around the world. They are between 18 and 35 years and have been gone through a selection process accessed by 15,000 applicants from 190 countries. Almost all of them work with organizations that support the neediest and attend, in mid-August, a series of training seminars in communication skills, negotiation, team working and resolution conflicts.
"Listen, listen to the young!" Claims Alhendawi to political leaders. To a group of journalists, the Jordanian diplomat, still dressed in tie, explains that nearly half of the world population is under 25 years, the largest amount in history. This percentage is reduced to 20 percent, more than one billion people, taking into account the age group ranging from 15 to 24 years. Nine out of ten people live in developing countries. That means they often have few opportunities to access education and quality employment. According to UN, unemployment is higher among young people than among adults, a situation exacerbated by the economic crisis. Between 2000 and 2011, the rate of youth activity decreased from 52.9 percent to 48.5. In 2012, 73.8 million were out of work. Youth unemployment in Spain exceeds 55 percent.
Alhendawi, born in 84, is responsible for transmitting these data to world leaders on behalf of Ban Ki-moon, UN General Secretary, who created the agency in January 2013. The youth office, which coordinates the work of the various UN agencies, insists that "we must make a greater effort to communicate with young people." According to Alhendawi, the fact that less than 1 percent of under 30 are parliamentarians does not correspond to global demographics. "Youth is interested in politics', he defends, something that is not reflected in the composition of institutions. The diplomat noted that a prime minister confided that he had never sat with anybody to talk directly about the problems of young people.
"Suddenly - says the newspaper "The New York Times" - the "millennials "are everywhere." It is the name of the generation of those who are between 18 and 33 years. A group of more than eight million people in Spain. They are, broadly speaking, liberal, open to change, with more education than previous generations. The "millennials" are the first digital natives. They have found in social networks the perfect means to be heard. 75 percent has created a profile in platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, according to Pew Research Center . They prefer online shopping. Mortgage is not in their plans and marriage comes late than ever.
Despite the economic difficulties, prioritize the work they love, even if it means a lower salary. The "millennials" are not an innocent generation, no matter how much they have grown up surrounded by virtual reality. They have faced terrorist attacks like those from 11-S or 11-M, wars and one of the major economic crisis. They don’t find work and are at home with their parents longer than they would like. They distrust political and religious institutions. Half of them do not identify with any political party. And yet, they are optimistic. They think that the best days lie ahead and are more liberal on issues like marijuana consumption or gay marriage.
Yaniv Lushinsky, Israeli, combines his work as a consultant at the Meretz party with his activeity at an NGO fighting against gays and lesbians discrimination. "We tell politicians what they should do and to people what they can do," he explains. The organization he helped to found three years ago has launched the first legal text on gay rights in Israel. Lawyers and experts offer solutions to those who are discriminated. "Our NGO seeks ways to change the legal framework". Lushinsky looks at the future with optimism and thinks that conflict with Palestine has a solution. "War is not the way he says. There have been many operations in Gaza and we always come back to the same situation. Leaders need to take risks. We need a courageous leader".
Christian Rusangwa grew up in Rwanda after 1994’s post-genocide. Some 800,000 people, 11 percent of the population, were killed in five months. 20 percent of women who survived the genocide were raped. The crisis caused two million refugees. West simply follow it on television. Rusangwa volunteers at an NGO that pursuits reconciliation. It Supports orphans and homeless children and has united religious leaders and communities for the construction of exchange places and houses. During a visit to the Bronx, one of the poorest New York’s neighborhood, he observes that the problems in US: justice, work, housing; are very similar to those Africans have.
Anastasiia Borynets actively participated in the demonstrations that overthrew President Viktor Yanukovych. "When we started to manifest a revolution started, but we did not know we were making a revolution , "says this recently graduated journalist. The protests began in November 2013. By then Borynets worked at the international section of a television channel that soon became identified with the pro-Russian positions. Then she decided to leave. With 24 years, she is a member of "Generation 2020", an organization that convenes meetings and readings to promote democracy among Ukrainian youth, "those who in five or six years will be leading the country." Although the government, Borynets recognizes, “is not interested in what young people think. That’s why it is very important that "young people work in various fields to change the situation."
That is what Matthew Hodes asks, the Alliance of Civilizations’ director, in a speech to the 75 young people gathered in Tarrytown. "We recognize the potential" of a generation that "may cause changes.". "It is our job and responsibility to help you be part of the solution”. Zainab Hawa Bangura, UN special delegate on sexual violence in war, demands them to be protagonists in a better future. "I know we can get it because my own experience has shown me that nothing is impossible."
"Can youth change the world?" he asked Gabriela Velarde. "It is a utopia. Change begins at home. If each does its part, we can change something”. At 32, this Peruvian promotes a "peace revolution" from the NGO which she collaborates with. She abandoned her studies to focus on an organization that aims to teach how to live in harmony through meditation. "Peace in, Peace out," says its slogan.
Can young people change the world? Catalina Valencia, a Colombian living in Spain since 2005, asks her self: "It is difficult to enter into deeper levels ... because young people are not being taken into account when making decisions ... "
In nine years, Valencia, who lives in Valencia, has studied three Masters thanks to various scholarships. She worked at a market research company, but informally. Also in a newspaper that is distributed for free. "It was a monthly edition. It was not a formal work". She soon became involved with PROMIS, an NGO supporting immigrants. Then the crisis came and the newspaper closed. And with it, PROMIS was extinguished. Now, as secretary, she is leading a new era for the association. Her idea is to present the project to the City organization, the Government or the private sector.
She knows she will have more difficulties than their peers in summer school. "There are many who work and receive a salary from an NGO. Others are advisors or consultants and collaborate as volunteers. I have no job. I do collaborations, but they are very specific things. Young Spaniards are well behind the rest of the world. I have considered leaving Spain and returning to Colombia, which would be more logical. Colombia is now quite well".
Change the word "impossible" by the slogan 'I'm possible', they are told at one of the seminars. New York is the world capital for "Yes, we can."
Note: This article was originally published in Spanish in ABC.es. We are making such material available in our efforts to promote the culture of peace. The original article can be accessed through the following link: