VIDEO: Let youth lead the way

Indonesia, West Bank and Gaza, July 25, 2011

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This week marks the start of the Global Citizen Corps (GCC) International Youth Gathering in Doha (July 23-28), where they'll discuss five key issues that are central to the GCC curriculum: environment and climate change, education, food security and hunger, health, and peace & conflict. You can follow the Twitter conversation via #youthgatheringdoha or the GCC4change Twitter feed.

Unlike in years past, GCC representatives from Iraq and Palestine were able to attend this year's gathering. Another first: Indonesia now has GCC representatives, making this the largest GCC event ever, with 20 youth leaders from 10 different countries!

Julisa Tambunan, Program Manager for Global Citizen Corps Indonesia, posted last week about her excitement leading up to this year's event. This statement sums up her thoughts about the event:

Let the older generation fight with their weapons, we are the peacemakers who believe in diplomacy."

This is what GCC is all about. As Julisa so eloquently puts it, "[GCC is] making young people believe in their own potential to create a different kind of future where all the people in the world are united." 

When I was in Gaza last month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Iman Ahmad — Project Coordinator for Mercy Corps, who works on the iYouth program (an offshoot of GCC). Iman is herself a former GCC member.

In the video below, Iman talks about her work both with iYouth and providing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) internship support and career counseling for 15-18 year olds in Gaza. Youth employment and entrepreneurship is a major focus for Mercy Corps in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) where, according to the World Bank, 4-5 million new jobs a year will need to be created over the next two decades to meet the anticipated demand.  

Mercy Corps' iYouth program in Gaza provides students with experience in blogging and other digital mediums, community service, and leadership training. For Iman, the best part of the program is community service, where she says young people come away with a much stronger sense of connection to their local community: "I cleaned this street… I visited this house…" As she says, you feel you've "left your footprints everywhere."

My hope is that this year's GCC youth leaders come away with a stronger sense of their connection to the global community and leave their footprints for the world to follow.