Vince said it right:
‘Rainbow colors meet at the Horizon: I saw it herein Philippines at the NewGen leaders training’.
NewGen Leaders is not just another manual or tool kit to facilitate training programmes. The seven of us, representing 5 countries, met in Bangkok at the beginning of this year to form the idea of New Generation Leadership.
Now firstly, is it possible to train someone to be a leader? If yes, what does being a leader mean to young people? What are the unique challenges this generation face and what would be the meaning of leadership for coming generation? Those are the big questions that we struggled to find answers for. Youth LEAD wanted to develop a training manual to train the young people of today to become leaders of the coming generation; leaders of a new generation. The leadership applicable to this generation is simply beyond classroom training, given the context of existing challenges. We had to think wisely about the characteristics of a future leader in a new generation.
NewGen Leaders was not just about making new leaders. When I think back about the participants of both trials in Korea and Philippines, they already comprised of many leadership attributes. They were young people who have been working in their communities for years. They have demonstrated commitment, capability, dedication and predominantly leadership! It was training for Leaders about Leadership: an enormous challenge! How do you challenge, negotiate, discuss, participate and conduct 5 day training for young leaders using a bunch of other young leaders as facilitators? That was the best part of this Manual: the training structure we adopted made all the participants equal and grounded. We used games and activities to uplift their existing or hidden skills. Overall, it was a journey of learning. Thank you Helen for pulling out our innovation to lay it out on a single plate. That whole sense of collaboration was a lot of fun!
At the end of 5 days, the young people came up to us. They had many things to say. One recounted, “I am surprised about my communication skills, it seemed like it existed but I didn’t know how to take it out and use for my existing advocacy work. Now I know what to do in future’. NewGen is not just about formulating new Leaders but exploring existing skills and sharpening them for future challenges.
NewGen Leaders are not only about new generation. For me, Youth-Adult partnership is the most crucial term, jargon and practice in this time and age. In particular, when it comes to HIV and AIDS movement, there is a huge gap of providing young people a genuine opportunity to take on the leadership of the AIDS response. The same people have been running and leading organization , and making decisions for the last few decades. It is sad to see young people are moving from organization to organization, project to project and also many are leaving the sector due to lack of growth opportunities. Young KAP, for instance, was overshadowed by elders and rarely do we find YKAPs take new initiatives. NewGen Leaders was launched in an environment where building a new layer of leaders was essential to strengthen the AIDS response in Asia. During the last feedback session, Vince, ED of The Seven Sisters, was in tears after seeing the performance of the Youth LEAD team. NewGen Leaders is a genuine effort to build leadership among YKAP in Asia and Pacific. The whole programme was also a reflection of how much our adult generation is genuine about their second layer of leaders: a remarkable feat, indeed! Thanks Jeff, Phili and Vermont for showing us how this generation can work together through diversity and inclusion: two essential ingredients to prepare it for success!
NewGen is not only about training. As I previously mentioned, we are already leaders out there. On top of the leadership hybrid, NewGen is adding more fire to young people’s motivation and hopes. For me, the most important thing now is the ‘opportunity’ young leaders need to take from this; an opportunity to demonstrate the leadership of YKAP in your organization, in your projects and in your policy formation. As we all know, this new transformation would always encounter a bed of roses, but the AIDS movement will not be able to go much further without providing a genuine ‘opportunity’ for young people to take on ‘leadership’. That is why I say NewGen is not only about training young people but also about uplifting the AIDS response in Asia. And finally, Vince, a thank you for those genuine tears.