blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff
By Nan Zhang (China)
Rwanda, a country that I had never thought I would have an opportunity to go to, has become a turning point of my life. It was Turikumwe program organized by Global Youth Connect and INARA Legal Aid Service that made this happen. I am truly grateful for this two-week trip with local and international participants, which not only has a profound impact in my personal experience, but also makes me rethink the role of youth in promoting and protecting human rights.
Personally, the program has widely broadened my horizons—exploring common definition and different topics in human rights field, visiting local communities and refugee camp, volunteering for a community-based organization, etc. These experiences help me understand what real living conditions of those people are, and get a sense of human rights issues they are faced with. In Kiziba Refugee Camp, the young people presented to us that rights of citizenship, life and education are the most important human rights to them; in Kabuga Community of historically marginalized persons, a woman spoke out about their healthcare and housing problems; at Isano Cooperative where I volunteered, those young women told me their miserable stories regarding livelihood. These talks and dialogues are really overwhelming for me, because I thought I knew what poverty is like, but I was wrong. I have no idea that there are people struggling and striving for their tough lives. I feel really sad for them, and I want to make contributions to change their lives.
During the trip, I kept asking myself what youth could do to promote human rights and development. Youth are passionate, active, and vigorous. They have the desire to change the world through their participation so that they will become key agents for social change. In human rights field, one of the most crucial things is promotion and advocacy. Only when the world hears the voice from the field can people join efforts to protect human rights. Youth could advocate human rights issues by social media, which is a powerful tool to connect the world. Moreover, it is youth’s responsibility to gain more knowledge and sharpen their skills in order to develop social change. Since human rights is a complicated issue intertwined with politics, social regimes and institutions, what it needs is not only advocacy but also useful skillsets and knowledge for real action. Before this trip, I am not sure what I really want to do for my future career, but now I am determined to commit myself to human rights and development. However, my pertinent knowledge is not sufficient, so I will try every endeavor to expand my knowledge when I go back to study. Yet I am so glad that I have learned and explored some human rights issues in Rwanda with all the delegates. In addition, participating in cross-cultural programs or any voluntary work in the field would be very helpful for youth to foster an open mind and respect differences. It is time for youth to expose to the real world and take the responsibility to make a change.
I believe together we can spread love and trust, together we can build a bright future, and together we can make the world a better place to live in!