South Asian youth are inspired to inspire
This blog post was written by our friend Naima von Ritter. She came and enthusiastically participated in the South Asia training workshop and decided to put her experience down in words for us. She is a member of the International Youth Climate Movement (IYCM) and currently working at the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) office in Dhaka as a short-term gender consultant.
Last week, I had the absolute pleasure to attend a very inspiring event. Between September 25th and September 28th, the British Council of Dhaka hosted an event called Climate Change Training for Trainers (T4T) South Asia. Organized by 350.org and the Bangladeshi Youth Movement for Climate (BYMC), the event included twenty five motivated youth from seven different south Asian countries, namely Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, Maldives and Bangladesh. (Unfortunately, our friends from Afghanistan could not make it due to visa issues. L). Chaity and Ayesha two enthusiastic trainers from the 350.org office in India led the four-day event as part of 350’s mission to “build a global movement to solve the climate crisis.”
The training included various sessions on six different themes including: telling your story, building a movement, building a campaign, and how to use media effectively. Participants also worked on creative art to get spread messages on a local level. For many, it was the first time interacting with youth from other South Asian countries. To be able to share experiences and work together proved very helpful and motivating. As one participant iterated, “we really enjoyed and learned a lot from the multi-cultural learning.” The event was really “a great platform for young people of South Asia to gather, interact, and learn.”
But the learning and bonding was not limited only to the training sessions during the day. Every evening, the participants bonded over dinner, visits to the Parliament and Old Dhaka, shopping, and sing-alongs. One evening I stayed with the group to go to dinner. We piled into Bangladesh’s most common form of transportation: rickshaws. And this is an image I will never forget: thirteen Rickshaws (local transport) weaving through Dhaka’s (horrible) traffic with South Asian youth shouting “CLIMATE ACTION”. Every time we stopped, we got all sorts of strange looks from people. But none of us cared. We were all yelling for something we all believed in.
The closing ceremony, which included speakers from British Council, Action Aid, Oxfam GB, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Government of Bangladesh, was also a resounding success. As one speaker correctly mentioned, this was a youth-led, youth focused workshop. The closing ceremony equally reflected this young energy. Audience members were taught how to “twinkle” their hands in their air whenever a speaker said something they agreed with. This action, which the participants used throughout the entire workshop, is meant to show support for the speaker without interrupting him/her. In addition, a delegate from each country got up between each speech and led the audience in shouting “CLIMATE ACTION” in his/her own country’s language. This was a fabulous touch and kept the ceremony lively and engaging.
BYMC members are excited after successfully finished their historic journey and dreaming to organize a national level camp next year to spread the movement within the country and guests are already commit to support them in future.
In the words of the participants, T4TSouth Asia was “amazing,” and “beyond expectations.” They will take the tools and skills learned here back to their countries to continue building a global movement to solve the climate crisis. As Bhagya, a participant from Sri Lanka said, “thanks to T4T South Asia, we are now inspired to inspire.”