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Youth for Sustainability Initiative Launched in India by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

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The RSPO participated in the 71st AIESEC International Congress in India as the ‘Leaders for 2030’ partner and launched its ‘Youth for Sustainability’ campaign. The event, which focused on reviewing and planning the contribution of young people for sustainable development goals, was held in Hyderabad from 5-13 July, attracting more than 400 youth leaders from over 90 countries.

RSPO’s India Representative, Kamal Prakash Seth, who is also the former President of AIESEC’s Delhi Chapter delivered the opening keynote address at this event. He said, “World leadership is in crisis for climate action. Young leaders are the future of the world. Youth must step up in their communities, and take responsibilities towards creating a sustainable future. As the world’s largest youth run organization for leadership development and , present in more than 125 countries and territories, AIESEC has a big role to play for creating a better future for all.”

The keynote address was followed by a 90-minute workshop titled ‘Be the CEO you want to see in the world’. 100 delegates from across the world including countries like India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, were divided into ten teams representing the management teams of popular everyday use products which contain palm oil like burgers, chocolates, ice-creams, biscuits & cookies, soaps, shampoos, lipstick etc. All the teams were first sensitized about the merits of sustainable palm oil, briefed about RSPO’s ‘Theory of Change’  and then asked to come up with a business plan to present to their company’s board to transition to sustainable palm oil and also to launch a marketing campaign to educate their suppliers and end consumers. The winning team was announced at the end of the workshop and rewarded with some RSPO goodies. 

All the ideas from the teams were collected by RSPO and AIESEC and will be used for our outreach and education programmes. A social media challenge was also launched at the conference titled ‘Be a Sustainability Warrior’ wherein the delegates were asked to post real life pictures and videos of actions they have taken for climate change. RSPO also participated in the ‘Media Zone Panel’ which was created to engage hundreds of thousands of AIESECers and young people in general through facebook live.

“To be able to one day engage and develop every young person in the world and become the youth leadership movement, we need to understand young people, we need to become the youth-voice.” said Agnieszka Okroj, Global Vice President, Public Relations, AIESEC.

RSPO will be the ‘Sustainability Partner’ for the 10th Young India Challenge (YIC) which will be organized Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, New Delhi on 12-13 October 2019. The theme for the event is ‘Sustainable Living’ and the focus is on finding solutions for SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 13: Climate Action. You can apply for the 10th YIC here: https://youngindiachallenge.com/

For further information, kindly contact:info@humancircle.in

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Life is beyond uncertainties – The spark of Doing What You Love!

Every day, at around 5:00 AM, I’d be rushing down the flight of steps to board the Churchgate local transiting through Vasai Road (a small town in the outskirts of Mumbai) to kick-start my day as a University student. In about 90 minutes I’d be at the Churchgate station at an hour of the day where Bombay still seemed to be dressed in the freshness of a golden morn. Treasuring the silence, I’d be happily strolling down the heritage lanes of South Bombay, or stop by the bay and relish the beauty of the morning calm. With the rise of the Sun, my hours would soon be devoted to attending Sociology lectures followed by French lessons until late afternoons.  Towards the start of a pleasant evening, I’d slip into the shanty slums of Dharavi and transition my role from a student to a part-time English and French teacher at a non-profit. This was what had got me productive during the weekdays. The weekends, however, were quite rigorously meant for short day trips and a volunteer project that identified me as an online English tutor for the orphans of rural West Bengal. Occasionally I’d also be gladly working part-time as a city guide, showing around hidden nooks of Bombay to guests from Sri Lanka, Turkey, West Indies, Canada, Australia, just to name a few! 

Bundi, Rajasthan

Right from my hours spent studying culture, norms, and society to exploring the diverse vividity of this globe as a Sociology and a French student, I’ve always loved the idea of materializing my learnings; in an environment that would allow me to share my skills and take it to the ones in need. Certainly, that was what led me to start working in Dharavi and eventually handed me a fellowship in rural Rajasthan. Simultaneously, my love for traveling to foreign lands and connecting with people from across the globe also motivated me to come up with my travel blog – ‘Steps and Streets‘ to share my travel stories. 

My work in Rajasthan was that of an English teacher at a rural school which parallelly also allowed me to travel and write stories during school vacations and long holidays. However, a few months down the line, a prolonged illness dropped me at the crossroads of quitting the fellowship and looking for another job in the development sector or diving into a less-promising career option of being a full-time travel writer. I chose the second one. The one that I’ve always had connected with. 

With my students in Tilonia

Tanisha with her students in Tilonia, Rajasthan

Since then, my travel-writing career has taken me to the remote villages of the Uttarakhand Himalayas, to lesser-known heritage nooks in Rajasthan, and several other parts of West Bengal, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. 

But none of this was a bed of roses. There still are days where I think of opting for a full-time job. But every time I think such, I’m turned down by a virtual loop of all the adventures I’ve had on the road ever since I got into travel blogging. Despite the pain and the instability of financially sustaining my life as a digital nomad, I’d never trade this life of pure bliss and pure struggle for anything that is less exciting than the one that I’m in. 

At an unmapped village, Uttarakhand

Ever since I was 17 till today that I’m 21, I’ve never thought of rewinding or living my life differently! As a less-experienced teenager to an ever-evolving adult, I’ve always chosen what rang with my passion. 

By the verandah, as I sip my coffee overlooking the fresh paddy fields of Bengal, once again, I ask myself, ‘how do I manage to stick to the drama of having a life with all sort of uncertainties?’, my gut simply murmurs, ‘That’s the spark of doing what you love!’

Tanisha Guin
(YIC Mumbai 2017)

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Footprints of YIC Impact Edition – 2017

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Everyone has a turning point in their life. Some might have experienced, some might be experiencing, while some would experience it. In my case, it was during the 4th and 5th March of 2017, when the 8th Young India Challenge happened in my life. I remember, one of my friend, Mahadevan, who also closely works with the YIC Team, telling me, ‘You must attend YIC, at least once, no matter what’! I filled up the application form and soon I got an email stating that I was shortlisted for a telephonic interview. Later, I qualified and got the chance to attend the 8th YIC at IIT Delhi! I was thrilled to get such an opportunity; which also meant that I could actually experience something new for the first time in Delhi. Yes, I could never explore Delhi before YIC with reasons given that I was an alien to that place!

Did I tell you that I was in Delhi for my post-grad? The reason to mention it is, I knew, I only had a few months to explore Delhi and I will be returning back to my place in Gujarat. So, YIC played a major role in taking the steps towards moving out of my comfort zone. Coming back to my experience, I recall, all the delegates were welcomed with a cheerful hi-5 from volunteers standing along the doorways of the entrance. Being an ambivert (more inclined towards being an introvert), my heart felt lighter. I was spellbound by looking at the number of students who were attending the event. From compelling real-life success stories to mind-challenging activities, every minute in YIC was a captivating moment. 

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YIC is meant for people who:

  • Want to do what they love
  • Want to become a youth influencer 
  • Want to create an impact
  • Are an active learner
  • Are social media savvy
  • Are committed to excellence
  • Have a global mindset

I belonged to the first group, I wanted to pursue arts, but fortunately or unfortunately, I was pursuing my M.Sc. in Biotechnology from Gurgaon. Although I never belonged to the 1% of the population who could actualize a change, I knew, YIC had influenced my mind in some way. From writing poems when alone to writing for a publishing house and a fashion magazine, I evolved to be a writer in its true sense. I couldn’t make friends during YIC due to my phobia in initiating talks (as I define it). However, I try to follow every person I met there and get inspired by their amazing works. I recall a few mentors and friends of YIC at IITD such as Onkar Sir, Durgesh Sir, Deep Shikha Ma’am, Pankhuri, Tanvi, Ishani, Vagisha, Nikhil, Mahadevan, and most importantly, Kamal Sir and Wioleta Ma’am; everyone inspired me to transform my passion into profession. 

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YIC was the foundation of my writing career. I could gather my courage to not work in the field I educated from and switched my career from a Microbiologist/ Biotechnologist to a full-time Content Writer. It’s been more than a year since I have followed my passion and guess what – No Regrets! The #DoWhatYouLove movement not only helped me step out but also gave me wings to fly and actualize my dreams. I always felt guilty for not being able to contribute to the platform that completely changed my life. However, the only way to cross these geographical barriers was writing! I was overjoyed when I was asked to be a part of the contributors’ network and I am elated to contribute my YIC experience through this blog. To everyone who contributed to enhancing my life, here is a virtual hug and a Big Thank You! You all have carved a special place in my heart. I am obliged to have met you. Kamal Sir and Wioleta Ma’am, you both are creating tremendous impacts on humanity and your contribution to Sustainable Development is unparalleled. The world needs people like you, thank you for inspiring every human you come across! YIC is and will always be cherished.

Justina Jose
(YIC IIT Delhi 2017)

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THE POWER OF IKIGAI AND THE POTENTIAL OF DREAMS

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When you have the spark in your eyes and the fire in your belly, no challenge remains big enough to stop.

Hi, this is Rashmi Subramanian, a 22-year old Social entrepreneur. I wake up every single day with a passion to improve the quality of education in India. 

It’s not an easy task to convert your passion into your profession and picking subjects like Ancient Indian Culture at the graduate and Philosophy, Religion and Culture at the postgraduate level, when there are thousands of engineers, MBAs, CAs in this world, makes this journey unconventional and lonely. 

My journey to do something for the education landscape in this country ignited in my mind as a school going kid. I had a natural inclination and a never-ending passion for history and political science. At an early stage from Grade 6- Grade 10, the negligence of these subjects and the step-motherly treatment it received. It was hard to break the herd mentality for me. To be the only student in the class of 56 to select humanities was a tough path to choose. To declare your love for history and political science 

This actually made me realise that the negligence of these subjects and the rampant rote-learning is something that seriously needs to tackled and eliminated systematically in our country. 

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I consider myself lucky to have college professors and mentors who have given their unconditional love and unlimited support to my ‘craziness ’. And learning from them gave me an idea to start an education organization that will remove boredom and dull content of social studies and replace it with creative learning keeping the historical and constitutional values intact. 

My internship stints with different NGOs and interaction with many people who work in the education domain fuelled my passion to be an entrepreneur. Somebody who wakes up every single day with zeal and enthusiasm.

When I see students question about history and political science in the classroom, I receive the motivation for my work. When I give teachers guidelines and content, equip them with knowledge, I am satisfied that I am creating change-makers. 

To work in this domain is actually similar to solving a jigsaw puzzle. Hence, I realised that PAHELI would be the best name for this. And PAHELI is also an acronym for Political And Historical Engagement for Learners of India. Currently, PAHELI is working on the empowerment of teachers and students to create politically aware and historically active students who will shape the India of tomorrow. 

With PAHELI, there are so many opportunities to explore and the schools today understand the need for strengthening social studies. How can we tackle social problems in this country if we cannot teach social studies effectively? This has been the central question that I try to bring to limelight through my work in PAHELI. 

I believe it is the power of the dreams that helped me get the vision to work for my country. Whenever you face problems, convert them into solutions and you will eventually find the purpose to live an enriching life. 

Remember self-created barriers and restrictions can be toxic in your life. These convert to regret when you turn old. Do not let these come in your way! 

Live a meaningful life and leave a footprint when you die for others to take inspiration from!

Rashmi Subramanian
(YIC RGIT Mumbai 2017)