NGL alumni have organized and held local community-campus events around the world, providing an opportunity for NGL alumni to engage with their immediate communities and institutions. NGL alumni each organized at least one event to gather insight about the issues young people see as the most pressing problems in the world and brainstorm potential solutions. These events ranged from a meeting of peers to discuss these issues, to a presentation, or a community workshop.
Alumni have also presented plaques of recognition to their university vice-chancellors, presidents, and/or rectors, and many held informative sessions to overview the NGL and For Youth By Youth initiative.
Halima Dolif, Kenya. Learners from Chania Primary school listening to presentations.
Events ranged from an informal meeting of peers, to a presentation or community workshop. While some events were organized by individuals, many were organized with NGL alumni partnering with other alumni at their home institutions. The events included participants both in-person and hybrid across at least 17 countries including: Austria, Cameroon, Canada, India, Ireland, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, and Rwanda.
Karla Garcia, Mexico. Participants gathering for an interactive dialogue on food sovereignty.
Several NGL alumni partnered together to host joint-events.
A large portion of events were formatted as informal dialogues serving as a platform for the voices of youth and collaborative conversations with participants including students, university staff, professors, and community partners.
Five of the events included smaller sub-events and one-on-one interviews.
Several events were in a hybrid format, including both an in-person component and virtual meetings.
Students explored unique and creative formats including: a plenary session with expert speakers which provided attendees with certificates of participation; an interactive multi-component community event that included skits, poetry, workshops, and involved participants ranging from primary school children to university students and community partners; and a workshop that included a writing exercise asking participants to imagine a scenario in which the year is 2040 and they were writing a letter about the “worst-case scenario” for earth.
Halima Dolif, Kenya. University students performing a poem, for the young primary school learners on the implications of drug abuse
Themes and Issues Identified
Most of the events asked the participants to identify the most urgent issues and challenges facing youth in their communities. There were many themes and issues that overlapped across the different events and demonstrated that youth across the world are facing many similar issues despite their differing contexts. Overarching themes and issues identified during the conversations included:
Lack of funding and mentorship – Many groups noted that youth today lacked the required resources and mentorship required to succeed. They noted that youth need increased capacity and skill building resources, access to funding opportunities, and mentorship.
Mental health issues – Across several different events, many participants identified that physical and mental health were vital in pursuing their goals and expressed the need for healthcare and support systems including additional mental health information and resources.
Lack of access to quality education – Participants across events noted that there is difficulty in accessing quality education. At times there are fewer possibilities for women than there are for men. Participants identified several causes that led to poor quality of education including inadequate technology and the digital divide, poor curriculums, inadequate infrastructure, and lack of resources.
Technological advances and social media – Some participants noted that there was a lack of education around media and digital skills, leaving them ill-prepared to navigate the today’s digital landscape particularly with the abundance of false information spread through social media and electronic devices. Others mentioned that youth today are inundated with media, which can lead to a sense of being overwhelmed, lost, and depressed. They also mentioned the increase in technological advances including artificial intelligence may be difficult to navigate and compete with in the job market.
Disillusionment with politics and civic engagement – There was a shared sentiment across several events that although most youth want to improve their societies and create positive impact, they do not see themselves or their values reflected in current political leadership which leads to political apathy. Participants in South Africa noted that the existing concept of national identity felt exclusionary and only accessible to those with high economic or political status.
Unemployment – Participants noted that lack of access to educational and skills training has led to rising unemployment rates and difficulty securing jobs.
Gender inequality – Some participants noted that there can be limited opportunities for education for young girls and from a cultural standpoint, they are held to different standards and have different expectations put on them than boys. Participants in Kyrgyzstan also highlighted the increase in child marriages.
Oppression of marginalized identities – Participants in various countries, including Saudi Arabia, India, Spain, and Mexico, highlighted the discrimination faced by people with marginalized identities related to gender, caste, and religion. There were also discussions of dangers and discrimination faced by refugees and indigenous people.
Brain Drain – Multiple event participants noted that there was significant “brain drain” or human capital flight (the emigration or immigration of individuals who have received advanced training at home) to Western countries. Although this is typically done for good reasons, to seek better opportunities, this often results in the degradation of the economic or social development of the home countries.
University of Cape Town NGL Alumni, South Africa. Participants from the workshop.
Many of the events included a portion of time devoted to exploring possible solutions to the issues raised. Some solutions identified were: Working together as a network of students, activists, and community members and relationship-building, trainings and skill building resources, increased access to funding opportunities, increased involvement in one’s community and civic engagement, advocating for women’s rights, updating curriculums to address current issues, establishing mentorship programs, and increasing mental health education and resources.
Read a selection of the the student community-campus event reports below:
NGL alumni had the opportunity to present a plaque to their Vice Chancellors in recognition of their institution's support of the program, as well as to provide information on the NGL and For Youth, By Youth program.
Mahugnon Samuel Ahossouhe, International Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (Burkina Faso)
Halima Dolif presenting the plaque to Kenyatta University's Vice Chancellor, Paul K. Wainaina.
"I had the privilege of talking in a little more detail about the NGL program during the COVID period, which has now led to the "For, Youth By Youth" initiative. Our online meetings, our sharing of experiences on various themes related to development, research, entrepreneurship, etc., and even our face-to-face meetings in the USA were the main points discussed." - Mahugnon Samuel Ahossouhe
These meetings also allowed NGL alumni to have conversations with their university administrators on a range of topics including their various community projects, encouraging and expanding student participation in civic engagement, and the importance of the university's support of the NGL initiative.
Marc Nathanson, Stellenbosch University (South Africa) presenting the plaque to Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector & Vice-Chancellor