By Becky Lim, year 10 MLC work experience student
As students come to the pointy end of school, where grades actually start to matter and afternoons are spent studying instead of watching Modern Family reruns, we find ourselves faced with a question. A question students struggle with, generation after generation. Where am I going? Not to get overly philosophical but we’ve just spent majority of our lives sitting in classrooms, listening to teachers, moving when the bells tell us to and being wherever our timetable tells us to be. Suddenly, people expect us to make choices that seem like they’re about to determine the rest of our lives. A choice that sees me sitting at a desk day in day out for about 60 years, before I retire and ultimately die. Considering that I have only just started to drive, I can’t legally drink alcohol or be called an adult, this is a daunting choice and seems unfairly important. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to change the world. I had no idea what shape or form this would present itself in but whether it be stopping climate change, fighting poverty, gender stereotypes, human rights or animal rights, I knew it had to change and I wasn’t going to sit around waiting for it to happen.
When my school’s work experience week was announced, I realised that I had to figure out what form, ‘changing the world,’ would take when it came to an actual job in the workplace. After multiple google searches of, ‘jobs that change the world,’ I decided that charities and not-for-profits were probably my best bet. I searched and called and searched and called but I was faced only with rejection each time. As the deadline loomed before me and as my friends found placements after a single call, I became less and less hopeful for the perfect placement. Eventually, I fell into the world of YGAP, and at last I had found my knight in shining armour.
As I combed through the YGAP website, I could have laughed at how perfect it seemed to be. I saw that it was a group of young and passionate people who were trying to change the world, one entrepreneur at a time. It seems important to note now that while my father is a doctor he is a business man at heart. From a young age, we watched Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank together, I read autobiographies of famous entrepreneurs and I was always, always reminded that the, ‘Lim way,’ was, “not I can’t but how can I?” As far as inspiring mottos go, I’m aware that it’s pretty lame, but it has driven me to find a way to do whatever I wanted to do, no matter how hard it seemed or how long it took. YGAP was young, passion-filled, entrepreneurial and, best of all, it was pioneering sustainable change.
As a student, I can confirm that the word sustainable is one of those big words that have been thrown around a lot recently, just like respect and leadership, without people really understanding the full extent of its meaning. To me, to be sustainable is to have a practice that you can continue or sustain, for years or for society to practice for thousands of years. Unfortunately, we are a fundamentally unsustainable society, the way we live our lives and the practices we have are not something we can continue for much longer. Cutting sleep in order to finish work every night isn’t sustainable, extreme dieting practices aren’t sustainable, our fashion industry isn’t sustainable and of course, the way we interact with the environment isn’t sustainable. More and more, we are seeing people moving towards sustainable practices in order to alleviate poverty, looking towards education and grass root organisations. Just like they say, give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. Over my time with YGAP, I have realised that this is one of the most unique aspects of their model, empowering the potential within other maybe less privileged change makers and allowing them to create permanent solutions to local problems, all across the globe.
At the moment the world is coming to a breaking point as we realise that there is only so far we can fall before you stop seeing the way out. People under the age of 30 make up over 50% of the world’s population, we are an invaluable resource that society continues to discard. This is why we need companies like YGAP more than ever. They are showing that being young does not equate being clueless or naïve but means that they have no shortage of passion and hope and determination and a vision for a better world. A vision where every child wakes up and has breakfast, and they all go to school with a packed lunch in their bags. They come home and play outside with their friends because they’re happy and free and safe. A vision where there is no place you go where you can hear the cries of hungry children and the silent weeping of mothers who give up their and the hard work of fathers who do not get paid enough for a bed to sleep in when they come home. I may be young, people may say I don’t understand or that I am only a dreamer, but I know that this is a world in which I believe, a world that I will fight for. So, do not worry, it is not only Y-generation against poverty.