By Naomi Yakawich
Junior Changemakers Workshop Hosted by Global Peace Foundation Malaysia
Over 50 young students from AXCEL International School between the ages of eleven and fifteen participated in the Junior Changemakers Workshop hosted by Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Malaysia. The one-day event held on March 30 covered three main topics: self-discovery, connecting with others and making a global impact.
Junior Changemakers is a program designed by GPF Malaysia to instill moral and innovative capacities in youth through interactive workshops focused on self-awareness as a bridge to connect young people with each other and the larger community. These youth learn how to recognize positive and negative emotions and express them in a healthy way that fosters communication with their peers.
Valuable communication skills were cultivated in the March workshop through a simple drawing icebreaker that blossomed into riveting in-depth discussions between students. After drawing out emotions like tired, happy or nervous, students explained their artwork to each other, enabling them to open up about their own feelings and help them see from the perspective of their peers. One student shared his insight into the activity by exclaiming, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!”
Workshop participants realized that one could only truly understand another through articulation of their feelings, rather than assumptions, as it may not entirely reflect how one is actually feeling.
Throughout the workshop, youth spoke on their personalities, strengths, limitations and the qualities they appreciate in their peers who have different personalities. Some students described themselves as confident and natural leaders while others felt they were quality-oriented and analytical; Still others said they were creative and enjoyed flexibility and the remaining defined themselves as great team players and good listeners.
The young participants reflected on the great deal they learned about themselves and each other, recognizing each person’s unique traits, which should be respected and accepted. One of the junior changemakers mentioned that knowing these traits would lead to better teamwork, helping them understand where their strengths and the strengths of their teammates lie. “Everybody is unique!” said one student. The students came to see that understanding others begins with a better understanding of themselves.
GPF Malaysia’s Junior Changemakers Workshop is just one of the country’s several youth initiatives to raise moral and innovative global citizens starting with self-discovery and experiential learning. GPF’s unique approach the peacebuilding utilizes interfaith collaboration based on universal shared principles and values, empowering families and youth as the primary means of instilling values as ethical global citizens in societies, and fostering a culture of service that not only immediately impacts local communities, but also cultivates essential leadership qualities for continuous growth and lasting peace.