KARACHI: After over a decade of igniting hope and inspiring the youth to bring a change, the Young Leaders’ Conference (YLC) embarked on a new journey on Sunday at the Pearl Continental Hotel, where the inauguration ceremony for the annual event was held.
Around 300 young and energetic participants between the ages of 18 and 24 will take part in the conference, which has the slogan “dreaming the unseen, believing in the unknown and achieving the impossible.” Young people from various parts of the country will stay together for a six-day period.
The conference focuses on those segments of society which need restructuring, such as the environment, corporate community, the economy and most important of all, the political sphere. Motivational speakers, trainers and experts from various fields will be present at the conference and try to nurture the participants’ leadership skills.
Even though the CEO of the School of Leadership, Shireen Naqvi, appeared satisfied with the 11-year journey of YLC, she felt that it was not even the beginning of the change she had envisioned. “By 2020, you will definitely be able to gauge the transformation that these young leaders will bring to all sections of the society,” she told The Express Tribune.
“Participants from all ethnic and religious backgrounds, the poorest and the richest, will be paired with each other for the span of this conference.” Naqvi explained that a total of 20 such groups have been made. Each of these has 15 participants and a supervisor who has participated in an earlier conference.
While sharing experiences from previous conferences, Naqvi recalled that once, a student from a renowned private school approached her on the first day to complain about living with a group member from a less privileged background. But by the end of the conference, both of them were seen sobbing at the thought of departure.
The provincial youth affairs minister, Faisal Sabzwari, who was the chief guest of the inauguration ceremony, lauded the effort to mentor the future leaders. “We did not have such kind of opportunities when we were young,” he said. Sabzwari added that most of his generation learnt through the experience of bumping into a series of obstacles. He advised the participants to treasure these moments. “It is indeed a great time when all government and non-government stakeholders are ready to invest in our youth,” he said. “For you, we politicians might not be examples of good mentors, but still I request you to avoid repeating those behaviours which you find unpleasant.”
About 19 organisations are supporting this year’s conference, including Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit, which aims to strengthen civil society and promote human rights in various countries. One of its resident representatives, Olaf Kellerhoff, said that his organisation, which is based in Germany, fully supports the endeavour of enabling the youth to take responsibility for themselves and their communities. “Making the youth learn about the choices in life while simultaneously honing their decision-making power is central to the liberal beliefs that Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung upholds,” said Kellerhoff.
Aminullah, a student at Institute of Management Sciences in Peshawar, decided to become part of the conference after hearing about it for years. “I want to know what it means to become ‘liberal’ in life.” Komal Masood, a student from the Institute of Business Management Karachi, was of the view that if change has to come in Pakistan, the youth will have to play a major role. “I believe that during out six-day stay here, we will enable ourselves to make the proposed changes,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2012.