The 23-year old me would have been proud seeing this.
I didn't graduate from my undergraduate studies with stellar results. It was a mistake to have taken a double degree in political science and law when I loved the former but hated the latter. I even flunked one of the basic law courses. It was embarrassing. I eventually dropped the law degree but by then, it badly affected my total CGPA. I thought I'd never been able to do my postgraduate degree. I've always wanted to study at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); I distinctively remember going on a walking tour many years ago with Dayang and the tour guide pointed us to the direction of LSE in Holborn, London. I thought it would only be a dream to get into LSE. But somehow someway, with the grace of God, I managed to get into London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) for my Master's degree. And I had the chance to study my favourite subject: international relations.
One of the goals I set out for myself when I arrived in London was to score a Distinction for my degree in LSE. I didn't know it was a tall order until I received the results for my first assignment. Despite all the hard work and sleepless nights, I attained only a Merit (<65). I thought it would have been next to impossible to get a Distinction (>70). But I kept that goal in sight to remind me. After all, what do I have to lose? I worked hard on every assignment but only managed to score High Merit (>65). It's bloody hard to score in LSE! For my dissertation, I spent 2 months at home -- dedicating many, many, many hours researching, writing, crying and editing my paper. I'm sure Dayang was annoyed with me. But Alhamdulillah, it paid off! Scored close to 80 for my dissertation and it brought me to just over 70!
I learned a few things from this experience. First, don't let your past determine your future. Failure is not personal, pervasive or permanent. Me failing to academically perform during my bachelors didn't mean I couldn't do well for my Master's. Second, if you don't try, you won't know. If I hadn't applied for the Chevening Scholarship and LSE out of fear of failure, I wouldn't have known my full potential. Third, always take on big challenges with small baby steps. How do you eat a whale or an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you write a 15,000-word dissertation? By writing one page a day. I'm blessed to have had the support of Dayang in London and subsequently, my parents during the quarantine. Thanks for believing me when I couldn't do it for myself. You are the greatest! This is for the 23-year old me: you did it!
Had the chance to speak at NeoWAY.org sessions organised by Wisdom Accelerator for Youth (WAY), a Swiss-based non profit organisation. Virtual WAY is a global event aimed at teenagers in the 13-17 age group along the lines of the original WisdomAccelerator.org format held in Davos during the World Economic Forum week. Guest speakers share stories about their past/present/future with a youth perspective in mind, with an accent on how it made them wiser over the years.
Speaking to teenager is not easy. I decided to keep it simple and share the 3R's: Read, Roam Around, and Reflect. More in the video, enjoy!
I was invited to speak a the Projek Amanat Negara (PAN) XVII conference organised by UKEC, the Malaysian student council in the UK at Cardiff University on 15th February 2020. During the event, I was interviewed by the PAN organising team. Enjoy!
Extremely grateful to be selected for the Chevening Scholarship, awarded by the UK Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I'll be pursuing a MSc International Strategy and Diplomacy at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). I'm looking forward to deepening my knowledge in international relations, build an extensive network with Scholars from all regions of the world as well as harness my leadership skills.
I've always been passionate about international relations. With some experience from my previous employment in the government-linked Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), I intend to understand the impact of emerging technologies on international relations. I'd like to study the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on international relations, specifically exploring the viability of an AI arms control between the major powers, namely U.S., China and Russia. Another interesting element would be Technological Diplomacy (#TechPlomacy), championed by the Danish Government in the form of the world's first Tech Ambassador.
Exciting times ahead!
Sharing a video on ASEAN Youth Fellowship (AYF) 2019 of which I had the chance to participate in.
I'm extremely grateful to be selected as one of The Edge Young Inspiring Leaders Awards (TEIYLA) 2019.
Thank you to The Edge Malaysia and the selection committee for this honour. I am truly humbled. Such a pleasant surprise to read The Edge weekly this weekend as I always look forward to reading it every Saturday.
Never once have I thought Marques Jeevan Menon and I would even be considered for such this award, let alone an award at all. Never once have I thought Nation Building School would be recognised for the small work we do for the youth community. Never once have I thought I would join the ranks of people whom I consider as role models such as Teach For Malaysia's Dzameer Dzulkifli, John-Son Oei of EPIC, The Picha Project co-founders and Melissa Sasidaran!
I am inspired by TEIYLA 2019 recipients such as Jenn Low from Wanderlust + Co, The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac)'s Mark Beau de Silva, and Beatrice Yong & Shao-Lyn Low of Eats, Shoots & Roots!
This award doesn't belong to me but it belongs to young Malaysians who are working hard to better their communities. It belongs to all the Gurus who took a chance with us. It belongs to Nafis Nazri, Pixie Cigar, Dzulhilmy Bin Mohammad, Shy Kit and all the NBS 2.0 leaders.
Thank you to NBS's partners such as British High Commission in Malaysia, Brickfields Asia College (BAC), Selangor Youth Community - SAY Community, Microsoft and many more! Not forgetting Wan Mohd Firdaus who gave us our first break.
To my family, thank you for putting up with me since we started NBS in 2015!
Team Malaysia at #ASEANYouthFellowship! We’re in Singapore for the whole week in conjunction with the #ASEANSummit thanks to Singapore International Foundation and National Youth Council Singapore. Through AYF, we’re meeting leaders (including Singapore DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam!), social entrepreneurs and corporate bigwigs. All in a mission to find ways to build a resilient and innovative ASEAN at a youth-to-youth level. the best part is I know all of the Malaysian delegates for this fellowship - yay! Exciting week!
MyDiplomacy is an organisation with a vision to inspire youth in Malaysia to learn about the world through diplomacy.
From our observation, aspiring diplomats have no avenue for engagement with diplomats themselves. Broadly speaking, there is a gap between youth and policy-makers in foreign policy.
Our platform aspires to change that. Malaysian Youth Diplomacy or MyDiplomacy will be organising diplomatic opportunities to encourage youth to be involved in the Conversations, Careers and Culture of diplomacy.
This idea is the brainchild of myself and Syed Nizamuddin Sayed Khassim (youth leader & diplomat). Syed Nizam, a former Youth Parliamentarian was instrumental in pushing for youth diplomacy through Youth Diplomatic Leadership (YDL).
This is my third community that I'm building from scratch. I'll need all your support and contributions to make this a success!
Before we launch the platform, we're looking for community builders interested in building MyDiplomacy. There's an abundance of opportunities in building this ecosystem.
If you're interested, sign up your interest at http://bit.ly/mydiplomacyteam
Drop a comment on our Community Canvas at http://bit.ly/mydiplomacycanvas!
Today marks the completion of my 6-week journey in the US.
Dreams do come true. I've always been attracted to America. I recall obsessively reading the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama. Before I sleep, I would (still) watch aggressive progressive TV show The Young Turks. I remember dreaming about Washington, DC after every episode of House Of Cards and here I am.
The fellowship is about understanding "Governance and Society" in the US. As a political science major and geek, this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! We visited various institutions and met with lawmakers, business leaders and community organisers.
But there are a number of Americans who fundamentally changed my perception of the US. The people in Minnesota showed the true definition of Minnesota Nice - and I'd like to thank:
Kevin Winge - My kind and generous host who took me into YouthCARE when you knew it would be difficult. You taught me how to treat people the way you want to be treated regardless of their background. You and your husband Kevin (Kevin²) inspire me.
Mike Opat - Thank you for being our de facto host in Minneapolis, Minnesota. From the incinerator visit to the unforgettable baseball game, you gave us a 5-star treatment in Minneapolis and we can't thank you enough. I've learned so much from seeing you in action. You and Kim are the best!
Lisa Goodman - You and Sadie gave such a warm welcome you to your home. Your hospitality challenged what many Malaysians think of Jewish people. I will forever cherish the neighbourhood garage sale and the beautiful dinner by Kim W. Havey and Mike.
Brenda Elmer - Thank you for opening your doors to your family and treating us as one of your own; your hospitality is legendary and I hope you come down to Malaysia one day!
Kou Xiong - Thank you for showing me and Heng the other side of Minneapolis and Minnesota. I have a newfound deep appreciation for Hmong culture. It was fun hanging out with you and Britney.
To American Council of Young Political Leaders(ACYPL) who made this fellowship happen:
Kaylee Boalt - You are a superstar. From the day you emailed us the offer for the fellowship to the last time you sent us to the airport, you've always had a smile on your face. Your optimism and warmth made our experience in the US worth it. Thank you for putting in the long hours and putting up with our whims and fancies. We learned more about leadership from you as you put it into action.
Pete DeAnna - You are such a cool cat. Thank you for picking us from the airport on our first day. I truly enjoy our frank conversations on US, politics and life. Thank you for bringing us around in DC! I'm sorry my Southern accent is not up to mark but will work on it once I crack a cold one with the boys when I get home.
Elliot Bell-Krasner - Your intelligence and insights are legendary. I remember you answering my burning questions on the role of the US President as the Commander-in-chief. Your passion for politics inspires and excites me every time we talk.
Many thanks to the ACYPL staff for welcoming us and organising the well-run Congress.
To #ProFellows, these 6 weeks with you have been the best. Though we come from different countries, I've always enjoyed our time together. We came to the US as fellows and we leave the US as companions. To my Team Minneapolis homies Tan Kim Heng, Soe Sandy, Ric Nanthaphon - it has been a wonderful 4 weeks with you.
Coming here was not easy, having to leave my beloved wife Dayang Anne behind for 6 weeks. Not being by her side as she goes through a rough patch, especially recovering from a surgery. Thank you for allowing me to go on this trip, sayang. It wouldn't have been possible without my extremely supportive parents - Mohzani Wahab and mum. Thank you for everything. Not forgetting comrade Pradeeban Letsumanasingam who held the fort in the office; thank you Johnathan, Hazel and Ashran for approving the longest leave of my life.
For all the people I missed out, sorry but thank you for making this trip truly an amazing one!
Grateful to be selected for American Council of Young Political Leaders(ACYPL) Professional Fellowship Program (PFP) this spring for 6 weeks in the US.
I've always wanted to learn about America's political system. I distinctively remember being inspired by Barack Obama's campaign in 2008 as an 18-year impressionable young person. I recall obsessively watching the progressive The Young Turks show on YouTube for opinions on political affairs. More recently, I was captivated by Frank Underwood's shadowy manoeuvring in the nation's capital to become president in the House of Cards.
And here I am...
Looking forward to learning about civic engagement -- how everyday American citizens engage in the political process to champion their issues and shape policy. I'm even more fortunate to be placed in #Minnesota - a state known for their active citizenry. Minnesotans are known for their record-breaking high voter turnout election after election. Looking forward to learning from and sharing with my host YouthCARE in Minneapolis. I already have a preview of America's vibrant NGO and entrepreneurship scene and I'm excited to bring back what I learn to Malaysia.
Thanks, Kaylee Boalt, Pete DeAnna and Elliot Bell-Krasner from ACYPL for making this happen. Thanks, U.S. Department of State for funding this program. Thanks, fellow Fellows - excited for the next 6 weeks! Let's do this!
Follow my American adventure on my Twitter - @Zaim90
#ACYPL #YSEALI #ProFellows #ExchangeOurWorld