Kathmandu, October 17, 2018: The awareness factor of every individual is what makes them responsible and committed to the development of society. In this context, the works of teenagers are not only setting the example but also, sending out messages that teenagers are the change-agent. Through this, we aspire to bring forward the examples of ripple effect that teenagers have brought in making this world a better place to live in.
In the panel, the Moderator was Dil Bhusan Pathak who is a renowned personality in the media field and also the founder of Interface, Nepal. The international speakers were Ngô Hoàng Anh from Vietnam, who is 16 years Director of Operations Sustainable Agriculture and Social Enterprise (SANSE), Sankalp Mohan Sharma from India, who is 17 years Sustainable Development Activist and Saqlain Morshed from Bangladesh who is 17 years Community Management and Operation Assistant at 10 minute School.
The panel discusssion went like this:
Moderator: Good Morning! I am really blessed and honoured to be here. So today the world has become so close, so narrow down. The impact of globalization has brought down us here. Let’s hear the success stories of these three young teens. Let’s start without any due, I wanted to start with Sankalp but as the old saying goes……Anh, ladies first. You know, in most of the countries, another part of society is more powerful. Hence, they are more perspective on teens. So, tell me about how your society considers youths.
Anh: Ugg So hi, my name is NGÔ HOÀNG ANH. I am also from the area with not so many initiatives and teens rising up from. But I think the problem is not that believing society has the problem, it’s a lack of belief in yourself by the young people that you can make a change. I think it’s more over believing in your own qualities.
Moderator: Ok, Saqlain, what’s the condition in Bangladesh? Does society listen to youths?
Saqlain: Well, first Asalaam walekum, Namaste and Good Afternoon everyone. I am Saqlain Morshed. I will be very honest. In Bangladesh, first of all, they don’t believe us because it goes like a change like you join a school, get a bachelor’s degree and get married. That’s how it works in most of the places. Whenever youths take any initiative, first of all, the main barrier comes from our parents. They will be like ok beta, what if you fail on this? We are spending so much on your education, tuition classes. Similarly, the second barrier comes from our neighbour, relatives you know. The neighbour people, especially the Bhabhis, one day they will randomly call your mom saying, ‘Bhabhi, I saw your daughter walking with a guy. I saw your son doing something apart from his study.’ So that’s how we get demoted at the very first stage without taking any initiative.
Moderator: Thank you Saqlain. It’s again the same society, Pakistan, India, Nepal. So Sankalp such environment, does it demotivate your institution or it’s the institution that drives you?
Sankalp: Thank you, sir, both of the things can happen to you, it’s all about how you take up that thing. I believe that there are two things, negative criticism and positive criticism. The negative criticism demotivates you whereas the positive criticism constructs you. So initially when I started off, many people talked about me that affected me. But eventually, I realized that their words aren’t getting my jobs done. So, I started taking my own choices.
Moderator: So please tell me about your work in Vietnam. How difficult is it?
Anh: So, I work with some organization for the women suffered from sexual abuse. Also, I do some work with UNICEF. And I completed my High School in Shanghai. I have a clothing store where I deliver the profit to the charity. I am also the president of my school’s National Honour Society that brings service opportunities to schools. And my current accomplishment which I am really proud of is being the director of Operations at Sustainable Agriculture and Social Enterprise (SANSE). The reason why it’s my Favourite is after intensive work, we are able to bring a more sustainable way to charity. So, there are many charity organizations in Vietnam. How we provide sustainability to our society is by providing sustainable growth to geographically isolated areas by giving education and career services. We raise funding by like we have an organic tea level for which we are working with other companies to recharge the new market in the near future.
Moderator: Saqlain, tell us the story about how Bangladesh’s youth have been contributing in Sustainable Development?
Saqlain: Thank you, sir, for giving me the opportunity to talk about my project. So, as it is already mentioned that I work for 10 minutes of school, so what we do is that we teach over half a million students every day free of cost. So how do we do that? Basically, the project leader, Mr. Anand, came up with the thought that this generation is manipulated by the technology like facebook, youtube and this is one of our favourite platforms. So, we chose this platform, Facebook to share our educational content to teach people completely free of cost. So actually, how we do that. We got our facebook page. Do you know the live feature of Facebook? We all know right? Usually, 8-9 pm is the study time in Bangladesh and during this time we take the live classes from our special tutors: people from medical sectors, people from engineering sectors. And the most interesting part of our life feature is that thousands of students comment on their confusions and our instructors try to answer every doubt. It’s very sad for me to say that the national curriculum of Bangladesh is not that much developed as compared to the European countries out there. We do have many alternatives like private tuitions but most of the middle-class family cannot afford that. So, what we do is that we know everyone has facebook, we have the contents of each and every chapter of each and every subject of each and every grade.
Moderator: Really? That’s great. Now we move to Sankalp, you are working on the climate and I think that’s not so easy. So, tell me how did you start?
Sankalp: There was one point when everybody started to talk about global warming. So, I used to go to my teacher every day asking them why global warming is happening when I was disappointed because I got very limited answers. So, I started to watch TEDx videos. And that 13-14 mins video used to answer my every question. That is when I realized that I have to take up this issue, so what I did was I started to do lots of volunteering activities. I started going to schools and talk with the youths because you know, youngsters can really connect with the people. Generally, when an old professor comes and give a lecture, it’s quite boring and most of the people don’t have the interest to listen. But when a youngster, someone with similar mindset come and explain to you they tend to understand better and reciprocate better. Eventually, I understood that climate change not only affects the youths but also every age groups from around the world. So, then I come to work for it. Now I talk to schools and colleges. I talk with orphanages and villages. One of the most prestigious moment was when almost 200 soldiers came front to conserve water. Now, this went extremely viral. I have been working for an organization: walk for water in Karnataka state where we organize a walk around the country on the 22nd March, World Water Day. I had some opportunities to represent my country internationally like in USA and Korea. What happened when I was about to do this is that I was able to build a very strong youth network from the leader around the world that have the same passion and thrive to bring a change in the society.
Moderator: Beautiful Sankalp (clappings). So, Anh, in your country also there might be the people who have walked for the water or anything like that to bring a change in society?
Anh: Ugh actually, for our organization, we have been connecting to lots of places out there starting with like local high schools and also, we have come to connect internationally like the Vietnamese Student Association in New York University. So, talking about the main points, we are also organizing big events.
Moderator: Tell me how have you been able to use social media like Facebook and Instagram as Saqlain and Sankalp mentioned, to connect the world?
Anh: So, we have a facebook page for our organization. But unlike my fellow panellists work, our work is not mainly based on social media. We help people from geographically isolated places where internet might not be that prominent.
Moderator: So Saqlain, I have a few friends in Bangladesh working in media. As it is said, media is controlled by the powerful people, let’s not go in the political side how media is controlled in Bangladesh. How is mass communication contributing to society?
Saqlain: Well, in that case, I will be honestly speaking, Our media is quite supportive in such kind of initiatives. So, whenever you are attending any conference, you will see many journalists covering from this and that. Right now, in Bangladesh, what we think is that this generation is totally different from the previous generation. You know Bangladesh is a small country compared to most of the countries and it’s trying to cope up with Malaysia, Nepal, India. So, to cope up with this global situation, we need help from mass media. So, I am giving you a very practical example here, we are speaking three panellists, 10-15 people in the hall from different countries. So, do you think, there are only 10-15 youths in the whole South Asia who have got some entrepreneur skills, communication skills, then why aren’t they all here? It’s not that they all are not capable enough but the main thing is that they don’t know about the stuff. So, our communication sector, journalism sector is working upon to share the information with many places possible.
Moderator: That’s wonderful! So Sankalp, tell me in your context, I think India has a number of films produced which is even more than that of Hollywood. Likewise, in mass communication also, Media is the largest one. So, tell me, how these biggest industries address teen issues?
Sankalp: I personally feel that they are very supportive. For example, it was so amazing that almost every single channel of India covered the Walk for Water. Most of the work that I am doing is getting support from all sort of media. I am not only talking about news channels, but also the newspaper and news stations. Even in Nepal, I have been to 5-7 days now, I have been doing some presentations in colleges and clubs, Media has approached me in Nepal and I feel very supported. The Republica has mentioned all about my mission that I am going to proceed in Nepal. So at least in the 21st century, media is supporting the youths.
Moderator: That’s wonderful. Ann, do you have any similar stories?
Anh: Ugg honestly media in Vietnam doesn’t care that much what young people do. The only article we can see is like, oh she got into 13 Ivy League colleges or like she got full ride scholarships. They care a lot about the traditional type of education rather than social works.
Moderator: What about the new media, social media?
Anh: In social media, the social works are over saturated. That’s why I don’t feel great to promote social works in social media.
Moderator: Ok, now let’s talk about the challenges faced by the youths in society.
Sankalp: I think the main challenge is the teenagers criticizing other teenagers. Teenagers working in the social field is not considered to be cool thing whereas youths in sports and other activities are considered to be really cool. I even got the criticism from teachers. But as I told before, I started to ignore this all stuff. There was once a very bad prank played upon me by someone who kept water in my chair that wet my pant. The entire class burst into laughter. And the worst part was, someone sarcastically commented that don’t throw water, throw something else, he is saving the water. So, these are the things I have been facing not only in the school but also around my neighbourhood. But in 2017, my work was addressed by President Obama and the Obama foundation. Since then, everyone is supporting.
Moderator: Ok Saqlain, share us your story. How hard is it to be in your society?
Saqlain: I want to say two major things. No. 1 is women security when I reached here, I saw more females riding vehicles on the road. But if the same thing happens in our society, then you will see many people video recording and uploaded in facebook with millions of likes and haha reactions. Still, in my society, women are not considered to work in many sectors. The second point is the mindset. When my dad heard that I was using Facebook to teach, the first thing he said was, come on dude, Facebook is to send some random friend requests to beautiful girls. So, the mindset like you are a teenager, just go and study still exist. My business idea has already won two international awards and I always wondered why only we take part in Bangladesh compared to many participants in other countries. When I researched, I got to know that youths definitely have many ideas but the thing they lack is family support.
Moderator: Thank you, thank you Saqlain. Ok now Ahn tell us the challenges faced by youths in Vietnam or you can also say the opportunities.
Anh: Like there are 80% of the youths saying why don’t you watch a movie? relax for some time. In Vietnam we have a trend to do social work just to show in the resume. Some people do join the service organization but don’t do any significant work. So, service is getting a bad fame. People ask are you really doing it because you are passionate or simply for your resume?
Moderator: Sankalp, would you like to tell some of the advantages.
Sankalp: I think there are massive opportunities because people in social services tend to be older in age. Secondly as i said earlier, youths are able to make people understand it better ways. Rather than showing tradition presentations with Facts and all, youths nowadays tend to present the issues in better ways.
Moderator: Saqlain, I would like to repeat same question to you.
Saqlain: Well basically, this 13 to 19 is the time when we like to copy each other. If he does this, then I can also do that. So, this is the time where we can be very creative and indulge ourselves in anything productive. Like right now we don’t have many responsibilities, like feeding our family, we got time, we just need to utilize it. Previously someone said time is money, yes time is definitely money if you know how to utilize it.
Moderator: Ok, Anh, tell us the opportunity as a teenager.
Saqlain: Well there are so many opportunities. Just because you are young, if you fail you can learn. Similarly, whenever we talk to any school and company for an event, it’s 90 % sure that they gonna help us, so ya, there is a massive opportunity.
Moderator: Ok I like to entertain some questions from the audience side.
Question 1: My question is to Sankalp, as you went to the US, what is your response to Donald Trump’s policies. How are you going to change the mindset of people? My second question is to Saqlain, what are the future plans for women empowerment by the 10 minutes school?
Question 2: What is the thing you want to do but haven’t done and want to inspire people? What are your hobbies?
Question 3: We ourselves are unable to change our mindset, so how will we change the negative mindset of society?
Question 4: How can I start my social enterprise since I have no money?
Question 5: How precisely can we contact media person if I have some initiative?
Question 6: What are the government supports for the social enterprises?
Moderator: Ok, so finally we are done. If you think some questions are not related to you, you can skip them.
Sankalp: I came to US with a sole purpose, just to work with the youth. With the collaboration of several organization and their CSR fund, we were able to plant almost 3500 saplings in Bangalore and my associated friend planted 4000 saplings in Nigeria. So I think the government will not be able to stop us if we approach the right people and collaborate with them. I love playing basketball. You don’t change the negative mindset. You try to ignore them. Eventually, it will change when people see you progressing. There was a very beautiful example in facebook where it showed how a big fat mobile phone is now changed into a slim smartphone, how a bulky television has changed into slim LCDs, but our education system has remained the same. I believe that the education system really needs to be changed over the period of time. So, for me, I raised the money from Crowdfunding. Social startup is a way to generate the money if you are willing to start any social initiative. Once a Kabadiwala came to my house. I used to give him the newspaper for free. After a few years he came to me and started crying, He showed me two papers, pink and blue saying that because of me he was able to teach his children. So, this is how a small act can bring a massive change.
Moderator: That’s really good! Saqlain, now it’s your turn.
Saqlain: During my leisure time I visit these websites: crello.com, tetra.com, workplace. We are planning to take 100 best and qualified girls from Bangladesh to teach in television live over 60 crore viewers.
Anh: Regarding how to start a social enterprise without money, it’s really simple, a lot simple than you think. Just start small. Just set a table, bake a food and sell it to the people. You can get sponsors, in the conference like this, try to network with the people. I am a normal typical teenager. I play basketball, swimming, I sing, I play the piano, I binge watch the tv series.
Moderator: Let’s wrap up. Sankalp, tell me about your role models.
Sankalp: So, I have 3 role models, my father who served Indian Army for 2 decades, second is my mother who secretly gave her name in Mrs. India and won the title, lastly my sister who is perfect in everything. She was a board topper in grade 10, 12, triple degree in microbiology, running an organization to find a cure for cancer, lost 30 kgs within 2 years and is now one of the top 6 models of India.
Saqlain: Well my role model is my mother who is a school teacher. Her duty time is from 8 am to 2 pm but she gives free tuition to deprived students till 4 pm. Once I asked my mother to lend me some money. She told she didn’t have that time, later on, I knew that she invested her whole salary to buy a school uniform for 30 students.
Anh: So again, my role model is my mom. She is a businesswoman. The one thing that inspires me is that she proves age isn’t the limit. I was always interested in business. So, once I saw my mom doing this Forex trading, when I said wow that’s amazing, she really gave me her account and said me to try. It was like a kid doing trading at the age of 12. It’s kinda weird.
Moderator: Now this is the last question. Sankalp, if you want to change 1 thing what would it be?
Saqlain: Education System
Anh: People not caring what other says
Moderator: Thank you, everybody, it was wonderful talking to you all.