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
I read with great interest an article on #ForwardTogether by the Organisation for National Empowerment (ONE). I wholeheartedly agree with their call for the electorate to “vote for a party which you believe can take us ahead.” At a time of uncertainty, there is a need to understand the civic deficit involving young people, its consequences, and what we can do to address it.
Civic crisis among young people in Malaysia
The controversy surrounding the #UndiRosak movement is a reflection of the civic health in Malaysia. Young Malaysians are increasingly frustrated about the excessive political bickering among politicians from both sides of the divide while others have been turned off by politics. A recent Merdeka Centre poll commissioned by Watan (youth voter registration NGO) found 71% of young voters felt they have no influence on government. It is no surprise, then, that 65% of all unregistered voters are between 21 and 30 years old — a whopping 2.5 million. While I respect the proponents of #UndiRosak and their legitimate grievances, I disagree with their approach. Spoiling one’s vote, even to send a message to the politicians, is ineffective.
Lack of youth participation and vicious cycle of neglect
The reality is politicians respond to voters. When young people are disillusioned, they stay out of the political process. As a result, they don’t vote in elections in large numbers (or if they do, they spoil their votes). In turn, political parties make little effort to engage young people as there is little incentive to gain their votes. This creates a vicious cycle of neglect of young people. The consequences can be detrimental for the youth. In the United States, only half of the young eligible electorate participated in the last presidential election, culminating in the rise of President Donald Trump. In the Brexit referendum, close to half of young British voters chose to stay at home. In extreme cases, political parties have discounted young people altogether. In the Netherlands, the 50PLUS party caters solely to pensioners and doubled their votes and representatives recently due to the lack of youth participation. Young voters cannot afford to risk our country’s future as we will be living in it, not our older counterparts.
The young can make a difference through the ballot box
We should not underestimate our power as young voters because we have the numbers. In the last general election, it was estimated that first-time voters (including yours truly) made up one-fifth of the 13.3 million eligible voters. The young are a powerful voting bloc, and we can influence the outcome of the election. Our collective power can pressure politicians from both sides to address youth issues such as affordable housing, cost of living, and career opportunities. It is easy for us to feel detached and confused from the national political discourse, dominated by old personalities. Therefore, during the election, it is crucial that we focus on our local community. Personally, I make a decision between the competing candidates based on their personality and track record, not their political parties. It is crucial we carefully select our state assemblyperson (ADUN) and member of parliament (MP) for they will be responsible for our community. Whoever it is, when you are at the ballot box, make a decision — don’t waste it.
Despite the pessimism towards politics, we must remember our actions will have repercussions on our generation and future generations. Our country may not be a perfect democracy but it works. We have the room and space to make a difference as citizens. At times of uncertainty, we can appreciate responsible and balanced calls such as from ONE on #ForwardTogether for voters to make objective and well-informed decisions. In the words of American feminist Gloria Steinem, “Voting isn’t the most we can do. But it is the least.”
You can find this article on Free Malaysia Today at http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2018/02/24/moving-malaysia-forwardtogether/
New year, new idea!
Your favourite school, Nation Building School is back with an initiative to help unemployed youth!
Over 55,000 young graduates in Malaysia are unemployed due to many reasons -- skills mismatch, poor command of English, lack of working experience.
We plan to do something about this stubbornly high youth unemployment!
NBS is launching #CareerClinic to help 200 unemployed university graduates through 6 series of workshops in 6 locations in Klang Valley this year!
We can't do this alone. We need your help!
Here's how you can help our project in our 1st phase:
1. Sign up at Actyvate Malaysia (crowd-pledging platform) at http://actyvate.my
2. Go to our project page and LIKE it at http://actyvate.my/project/career-clinic
Let's do something for our fellow young Malaysians! Thank you in advance!
We came, we saw, we became All-Star on LinkedIn!
Thus far, 10 of the 50 attendants have attained All-Star rating on LinkedIn starting from scratch at Beginner. The majority are Intermediate and will soon be All-Star.
With All-Star rating, you’re 40x more likely to receive opportunities on LinkedIn. I was surprised not many are familiar with LinkedIn which is pretty much Facebook for professionals.
We had this workshop on Monday 27 Nov in Department of Geology, University of Malaya.
Thank you my Guru Yaya Norazman, American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) University of Malaya Student Chapter and Science Society University of Malaya.
Here's my deck on for your enjoyment:
I had the honour of speaking at the 15th IAVE Asia Pacific Regional Volunteer Conference (IAVEAP) 2017 by Yayasan Salam and the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE). IAVEAP was held from 22nd to 26th November 2017 at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. It was divided into two events: Asia Pacific Regional Volunteer Conference and Asia Pacific Youth Volunteer Conference. I was invited to speak at the latter.
Yayasan Salam wanted me to speak at the panel on Technology and Social Innovation. I decided to talk about gamification in volunteerism.
You can find my presentation slides as follows: