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All posts for the month July, 2014

Liverpool experience:first week of THE WORLD MERIT FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM:)

Published July 30, 2014 by TATENDA

DSC_0627I have always had a dream, a dream to visit as many places as l could, meet as many people as possible and learn diverse cultural practices.  Throughout my 23 years of living, l have met so many inspirational and insightful people, worked with various social organisations and have carried out a number of community engagement projects.

In my journey towards making a global impact, l found the World Merit Community (an organisation that seeks to address global challenges through the integration of youths across the world.) Earlier this year (March 2014), l applied for a Merit Next Program (which was a global challenge they erected to measure the degree to which Meriters (members of the WM community) were actively involved in their respective communities. From the 600+ applications from nearly 200+ countries that applied, l managed to be part of the World Merit Year Long Fellowship program.

I left Johannesburg (South Africa) on the 19th of July, flew through Paris and arrived in Manchester the early morning of the 20th.

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I felt so deeply moved and honored when l found the founder of WM, Chris Arnold, waiting for me and the other participants who have just arrived at the airport. It was such a warm a welcome. We drove from Manchester to Liverpool, exploring the magnificent city that l have never set foot in.

Liverpool, what a historical and fascinating city. From the great halls, to the cathedrals, docks, ships and the sea. It is indeed a beautiful city, one of the major ports of Europe.chur

 

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For the whole week, we stayed at a newly built 5 star replica of Stanley Dock, the Titanic Hotel. What l will remember most about this place is my first experience of the English heavy breakfasts and the lovely spacious rooms. It is also at this place that l managed to interact and exchange cultural views with the other Agents of Change (as we are now called). Almost every continent had a representation. We had young vibrant youths from Brazil, Ukraine, India, Bangladesh, New Zealand, UK, Netherlands, Pakistan, Lithuania, Zambia, Nigeria, Philippines, Italy and Canada. It felt so great to design global solutions from a diverse world perspective. It was so easy and motivational to relate issues of climate change, gender equality, economy, health, politics etc to real life situations.

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Not only did we interact among ourselves and enjoyed the daily tours of the city but we also got a chance to interact with a number of powerful and successful business icons of Liverpool. The WM team provided us a very good learning platform. On our first night, we went to the West Tower, the tallest building in Liverpool.

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Right on the 40th floor is where we had a chance to meet, listen, ask and interact with John Kennedy who is one of Liverpool’s most successful men.

John Kennedy told us how he established his construction company, the obstacles he met, the kind people he had to interact with and the strategies he has been using over the years to keep his business growing and sustainable. The man managed to strengthen the entrepreneurial mindset in a number of us and we could see that although the path towards development is not easy, it is achievable. One of the things that he said that l will forever remember is that “l have to be my own collateral in almost every aspect of life. It is my passion and purpose that are key stepping stones towards success.”

We also interacted with men like Mike Southon and Tim Slack who are also quite successful and inspirational people. They also guided us on how to work as teams and create entrepreneurial ideas.To add on to the awesome and educational experience, we also got a chance to visit archives and the church that have kept records of one of the most successful entrepreneurs of Liverpool, the Beatles. We learnt how the four men (John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr) formed their music group. The Beatles started as mere Liverpool club entertainers and a group of youngsters singing in church yards to global icons whose music was listed almost in every part of the world. The same night (22 July 2014) we also went to THE CAVERN CLUB to have fun and witness more of the legacy left by the Beatles.

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Days kept on moving and each day had its own surprises and inspirations. On Thursday the 24th of July, the WM community celebrated World Merit Day 2014. WHAT A DAY IT WAS!!! The event was epic and quite extra-ordinary. Apart from the music, artistic performances and world affairs debates, l met my two most inspirational people, Sir Ken Robinson and Malala Yousafzai. Sir Ken Robinson gave some quite insightful arguments and thoughts on how to tackle global education problems and how, we, as humans/active global citizens, can improve our global participation and engagement in reaching out to needy communities. One of the words he said that will forever remain engrave in my heart was that people who transform themselves can transform the entire world and that it‘s not enough to be good at something. You have to love doing it!!!”

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What made the day even more memorable is the one on one interaction we managed to have with Malala (a very young, passionate and strong education female global activist). We had a discussion on how best us as the youths can address the global issue of denial and poor/no access to education by youths across the world particularly the developing world. The interaction has always been my dream and having the chance not only to see but also talk with Malala is one the greatest memories l am going to keep. We asked questions, shared ideas and explored the other global issues facing nations like wars, poverty and economic crises. I thanked her for sharing her bravery with the world, and l now know that her thoughts are my own. We must work together. We must do it online. We must do it offline. Most importantly, we must be brave and follow our hearts.

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The event also gave me a chance to interact with one of the England’s strong politicians Lord Michael Hastings. This man is the KPMG Global Head of Corporate Citizenship Previously the BBC’s first Head of Corporate Social Responsibility. Michael is a non-executive Director of British Telecom (on the Board for Responsible and Sustainable Business) and a Trustee of the Vodafone Group Foundation. He represents KPMG International on the Global Corporate Citizenship International Committee of the World Economic Forum and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development. Although we had a bit of different (conflicting) views on world politics, we strongly had a strong same view on world economics and how best can countries work towards eradicating poverty. I felt so honored and will forever be grateful for the chance to get exposed to such a well-informed and intellectual man.

After Liverpool we travelled to Chester. We stayed at Simon Preston’s (one of the WM partners and co-founder) home. WHAT A LOVELY HOME!!!:)J. The lovely garden, the flowers, food and the warm caring Mrs. Preston who welcomed us with all her heart. The night we spent there was a memorable night. Each of us felt at ease and it was a perfect resting place after the long tiring week experiences.

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On the 26th of July, we went to Snowdonia in Wales for camping. We played games, explored the jungle and ate Welsh food. The following morning we went to climb one of England’s tallest mountains, Mount Snowdon. The experience helped me understand the importance of team work. If a number of people agree on working together towards achieving the same goal and fulfilling the same purpose provides a deep insight in any given situation. It allows a group to produce efficient results.

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All in all, l must say the experiences were great, fun, educational and informing. THANK YOU WORLD MERIT!!!

 

My adventures in the first half of the year 2014

Published July 30, 2014 by TATENDA

When l was browsing through the internet earlier this year (January 2014) l came across the Student Competitions website. I saw so many competitions, essay writing, business plans, global ambassadors, environmental projects, debates among a numerous more. As l kept browsing and researching, l saw WORLD MERIT!! (www.worldmerit.org )

As soon as l registered, l got so excited. I remember the first 2 people l communicated with {Eness Mayondi and Andrea Bartoletti} who introduced me to the hub and helped me understand the real purpose of World Merit. As someone who have been so much involved in community engagement programs both at my university (Monash South Africa http://monash.ac.za/student-life/volunteering/ ) and at Higherlife Foundation (http://www.higherlifefoundation.com/ ), l found World Merit as the perfect social hub that would equip me with the skills l needed to impact my world.

I joined so many groups that all had ways to address the social, economic and political debates of the world. I met so many passionate and very active youths from across the world. Today (both on the hub and on other platforms of social media) l have friends from nearly over 150 different nations!! I have come to realize it’s quite helpful and insightful to be a well-informed global change maker. You get to know about real world challenges and understand the different cultures which exist worldwide by interacting/ getting first-hand information. It becomes so possible to design solutions and global plans to address existing global problems if people interact. I have always believed that the world can only become a better place if people, particularly the youths are given an opportunity to interact as well as get access to resources. What made me happy was that there was so much interaction on the World Merit hub, the debates with Simon Penhallow, the social actions and marches carried out by meriters, the encouraging posts and comments as well as the exchange of cultural customs.

Then there was the Merit Next application. I saw it as a promising event that would not only allow me to travel, but to meet world leaders and actively engaged youths so as to design plans that would change our communities. I saw it as an opportunity to go share ideas as well as gain knowledge and learn. When l started the application, l did it not only for the sake of winning, but l took it as a platform to get my ideas known. I put all effort to make sure that I expose the real challenges Africa is facing so as to get people into discussing possible solutions. As someone who grew up in rural Zimbabwe where education was never deemed that important (especially for girls), where  computers was a rare luxury and electricity a dream to come true, l have always wanted to better my nation’s living conditions. After realizing how l have come to understand world politics and diverse cultures through use of social media, l imagined how life would be for those l left in those most remote parts of my nation. I only started interacting with meriters because l had a computer and internet. The first idea that struck my mind was ‘INTERNET’, the right to access technology.

In February (2014), together with a bunch of friends, l started designing plans to run an ‘Internet for All’ project. I remember communicating with my university community engagement management, club presidents and other organizations that l have once volunteered at. I so wanted to make sure that l erect Resource Centers/ Internet Hubs in Zimbabwe as well as South Africa’s most marginalized areas. I knew that the only way l could know the real impacts lack of internet access had on communities was to have a one on one interaction with the affected people. My project plan was to either offer technical skills to those who had access to computers but didn’t know how to usefully utilize them as well as try find ways of getting computers for those communities who didn’t have any. On my 23rd birthday, which was on the 15th of March (the birthday l will forever remember and value), l had my first reach out campaign. With my friends, we visited 2 orphanages and spent the day interacting with nearly 70 youths. We helped with cleaning and cooking then had a session of interaction. We communicated with their matrons and founders and told them about our idea of making sure that youths get actively involved in world affairs by being given the opportunity to get access to the social media.

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This day marked the beginning of a great journey. The following weeks were packed with community tours as well as partnerships with other community engagement clubs at Monash South Africa. I also went on to create a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/worldmeritinternetforall/timeline ) where we share our ideas and invite friends to join our cause. These social actions led not only to my growth and self-fulfillment but also to securing a place for me on the World Merit Fellowship Program. I am going to be in the UK (2014) and US (2015). It is going to be a fully packed and interactive year that will give me a chance to meet global players. I am meeting Malala Yousafzai, Lord Hastings, Jack Healey, Katie Piper among other inspirational world leaders.

On the 17 of July 2014, l also got the privilege to be invited to attend the UNITED NATIONS MY WORLD GLOBAL CAMPAIGN YOUTH ADVOCATE FORUM. Junior Chamber International (JCI) South Africa in conjunction with the United Nations My World Global Campaign seeks to bring the People’s Podium (the UN Podium-Signed by the United Nations Secretary-General). As part of the celebrations, JCI South Africa hosted a panel discussion, in the format of the UN parliamentary discussion. Its purpose was to engage young active leaders in identifying existing problems, designing global plans and discussing possible solutions to address day to day issues. I enjoyed the debate. It was educational and quite insightful.

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July is a month that Nelson Mandela is celebrated. As part of its celebrations for the Mandela month, my university’s community engagement team decided to run a book collection campaign. After communicating with dozens of book publishing houses and individuals, we saw thousands of books being shipped to Monash. The main purpose of this drive was to supply books to schools in nearby marginalized communities so as to foster education. Apart from assisting in organizing the drive, l also made it a priority that l collect the books during my trip to the UK…With the other Agents of Change, we are planning on running a fundraising event to raise money to get them shipped not only to South Africa, but also Bangladesh. We are doing this to enhance development. We believe that education is the key to success.

It has been a wonderful first half of the year 2014……l am enjoying the journey and will remain up on my feet. I will continue fostering my Motto- CHANGE….INNOVATION…..ENGAGEMENT.