Youth Leads #3: What a week!

04 Jun 2015

  Some participants from the Youth Leadership Development programme

Each week here at UNDP brings in something new and something totally unexpected. We started off the week with just the three of us, as Isuru was away in New York attending his graduation, and it was interesting to see how the absence of one teammate was akin to missing a vital organ! Nonetheless we powered through our meetings and events, trying to provide the innovation of four LEADS with just the three of us. One of the biggest events of the week was a panel discussion organized by the UNDP centered on the 19th Amendment. The events drew in a significant crowd (to nobody’s surprise) due to the contentious nature of the subject. Personally I feel that as a nation we achieved a significant milestone with the passing of the amendment. The promises of many previous presidents were finally delivered, and the hope of many Sri Lankans to abolish the executive presidency was realized.

The Youth LEADS also had the privilege of becoming more familiar with the Youth Enterprise Development Program (YED) as well as the Youth Leadership Development Programme (YLD), both of which are part of the Governance for Local Economic Development (GLED) Project, falling under UNDP’s Governance for Empowerment and Social Inclusion Cluster purview. YED focuses on supporting and training skilled young entrepreneurs, who have identified a business opportunity by addressing a problem in their respective communities. This programme essentially assists selected young entrepreneurs by providing them with the knowledge and skills to carry out a business, as well as help them refine their business proposal. We learned at this meeting that YLD was a leadership development course which had been integrated in the University syllabuses. The training programme lasts for a few months, and an increasing number of students were getting involved in it each year. Upon hearing about these initiatives, I was immensely proud to be a part of a cluster and organization that promoted social entrepreneurship among youth, as well as provided essential skills and attitudes that empower them.

The week was also exciting because the LEADS got the chance to meet Verena Linneweber from our regional office in Bangkok. The team had the privilege of having a meeting with her along with the Communications Unit, and it was both a humbling and inspiring experience. Verena expressed her enthusiasm and interest in the Youth LEADS programme, and encouraged us to work further to increase the space for youth and innovations. Meeting her was like a breath of fresh air because her confidence and interest in the programme really showed us the extent to which youth and innovations is being highlighted in the global agenda.

A few of us from UNDP and UNV had a meeting with the National Youth Services Council (NYSC) as well, which proved to be very fruitful as an entire avenue of meaningful partnership was cracked wide open. Discussions as to how to integrate volunteerism, youth and social integration was discussed, with some crazy ideas being thrown around. It was heartening to see connections being forged between National counterparts and the UN, with an open and positive attitude, with a commitment to truly make an impact for youth from rural and disadvantaged backgrounds. I was lucky enough to represent the LEADS at this meeting, and got the chance to gather in-depth information of the programmatic areas of UNDP.

All in all, the LEADS had a fantastic week. It was nice to see the entire team together at the end of the week, and it felt like everything was complete once more. Coming to work every morning is nothing short of a new experience, as each day has its own intense conversation, crazy ideas and above all, a sense of harmony and team spirit. I couldn’t have asked for a better team, or a better week.

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