Aspiring young Malaysian entrepreneur and youth activist, Wilson Beh who is currently on an exchange programme to the United States from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), pens his thoughts about his journey of being selected for the Clinton Global Initiative and to share his knowledge and experiences being among the world’s most successful leaders and business people.
As a youth activist back home in Malaysia, I participated in many conferences and understand how gathering of great minds can bring inspiration and change the causes of many.
I am grateful for being selected as a Department of State’s scholar to exchange in the U.S. for 2 semesters. The opportunities unfolded throughout this journey have broadened my horizon and reaffirmed my view on the importance of education. As George Washington Carver said, “education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom,” it is so true that my Global UGRAD Program partners Nasha Lee and Christine Cheah cannot agree more.
This is why we applied to the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) 2012.
The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) is built on the successful model of the Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together world leaders to take action on global challenges. This year, CGI U was held at Washington D.C. and nearly 1,000 selected youth leaders from all 50 states and more than 75 countries came together to make a difference in CGI U’s five focus areas: Education, Environment & Climate Change, Peace & Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health.
However CGI U is more than just an event. It is a growing community of young leaders who do not just discuss the world’s challenges – the youth leaders take real, concrete steps toward solving them. Throughout the year, and as a prerequisite of attending the CGI U meeting, students and youth organization directors develop their own Commitments to Action: a specific plan of action that addresses a pressing challenge on their campus, in their community, or in a different part of the world.
Commitments range from installing energy-efficient light bulbs to establishing campus bike share programs, from distributing life-saving water filtration kits to designing medical backpacks for nomadic doctors in Africa.
Nasha, Christine and I proposed an action plan to aid bright, under-represented high school students in rural Malaysia by connecting them with academic and business mentors through an online platform and also providing a series of in-person skills workshops. I will write in details about our project in the coming articles.
Day 1 of CGIU 2012
The meeting was kicked start with a networking dinner. It was a great opportunity for CGI U participants and youth organizations to meet and identify who share similar interests.
Founder of Craigslist, Craig Newmark welcomed the participants at the networking dinner.
Later at the opening plenary session, President Bill Clinton led the discussion of “The Power of Public Service” with Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of States, artist Usher Raymond, Rye Barcott, founder of Carolina for Kibera, Sadiqa Saleem, Director of Oruj Learning Center and Steven Knapp, President of George Washington University.
Below is a compilation of great quotations in the plenary.
“Don’t be discouraged if what you’re doing starts off helping a small group. If taken to scale it can change the future.” – President Clinton
“Many individuals who are from poor background become successful is because their parents make them feel like the most important people in the world” – President Clinton
“You can’t impose democracy. That’s an oxymoron” – Madeleine Albright
“Give opportunities to people who want to make a difference” – Madeleine Albright
“Everyone has to ask yourself – what can I do to make a change?” – Sadiqa Saleem
“War is the not solution to problems. Education is.” – Sadiqa Saleem
“Start before you are ready.” – Rye Barcott
“I wanted to be remembered for something other than screaming fans. I would be the mentor, the motivator.” – Usher
Usher also sang the “Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston in the conference.
The first day ended with all participants taking a class picture. It was fantastic to meet with so many same-minded bright youths from all around the world. And what President Clinton said earlier in the meeting – “Live a life of LER – Learn, Earn and Return” had put me into deep thoughts until the end of the day.