By: Richard Cronin, Senior Volunteer of GMB
BEING involved in the Youth Leadership Program (YLP) is the most rewarding endeavor. The young people who you become involved with are very intelligent, motivated and determined to succeed. They come from all works of life, from different social and religious backgrounds as well as career interest. Indonesia is our closest neighbor, and a country that will become increasingly important to Australia and being involved in YLP is the beginning of building of the bridges that will bring us closer together politically, socially and culturally. It is like the “the rain drop that starts a river”.
The program has been established to identify young graduates from across Indonesia who can demonstrate that they have the potential to become leaders in
their communities and make a positive difference in society. These young people demonstrate their commitment through current and past volunteer community involvement. YLP is about giving these young people a broader perspective of life.
Young people, wherever they live, relish the opportunity to be able to learn and succeed. For so many of them, it is a only matter of being able to connect and communicate with people who have the experience, knowledge and desire to be their educators and mentors. They have the desire and capacity to take advantage of such opportunities.
YLP has three components. Initially young people from across Indonesia are invited to participate in the program. The applicants are then screened and interviewed to ascertain their suitability for the program. The successful applicants are then invited, at their own cost, to participate in a two week conference where they demonstrate their volunteering/giving capacity as well as meet with and hear from many successful leaders from different fields. These leaders are people who have very diverse backgrounds and come many different countries. Finally, a very select group of these young people are selected to participate in the “homestay” program.
“Homestay” involves the participants traveling to either Australia or Japan for two weeks and living with host families. It allows them to experience different cultures, social and economic environments as well as build their own confidence and self-esteem. They meet other young people who have similar aspirations to their own and get to understand that people from different countries are just like them in so many ways.
Since the inception of the program, we have had the opportunity to host up to eight young people from Indonesia at different times, Youth Leaders and others, who have relished the opportunity and returned home much more enlightened and enthusiastic about their futures.
Recently we have two young ladies stay with us with diverse views and interest in so many ways. Yet, they had one very strong common quality, the desire to be successful and to take the necessary steps to achieve their dream. They both had the opportunity to meet professional people in their areas of career interest during their homestay, the media and agriculture/finance. The Australians that these young people meet here in Australia, have also benefited from the experience and learned a lot about Indonesia and the cultural and social similarities and differences. All concerned realize that we are just so similar in so many ways. For example, the participants visited a local primary school to meet and talk with the young students. The students didn’t see two young ladies who were from a different culture and background, rather two people who were enthusiastic and interesting to listen and talk too. They shared stories and asked questions about each other lives and backgrounds. The experience was beneficial and enjoyed by all concerned.
Another wonderful occasion was when our visitors attended our family gathering to celebrate our granddaughters third birthday. The girls were thrust into a situation where there were many unfamiliar faces and complete strangers. Within minutes, they were participating in the conversations, joining in the celebrations and playing with the many very young children who were attending the birthday party.
These young people do not stop their journey once they return home. They remain very involved in the program through the YLP alumni. They are the pebble that creates the ripples on the pond of opportunity for so many others who will follow. They spread the news of their experiences and become participants and mentors for future young people who get the opportunity to come into the program.
In a world where we are searching for co-operation, understanding, better relationships between neighbors and other counties, where people aspire to improving their personal situation, especially economically, the Youth Leadership Program is a great way to move towards achieving these goals. The skills, knowledge and experience gained by these young people is making a difference, not only for themselves but also their communities and building bridges with people and communities that they visit and stay with during their international travel.
For example, on returning home, both of the young ladies who stayed with us in 2014, have been successful in securing career opportunities in their respective fields of interest and passion. Sharing their anxiety, relief and excitement at being successful in the journey is very rewarding, knowing that we played some small part in their achievements. We very much look forward to meeting and being involved with the Youth Leaders of 2015. [Richard Cronin]