The 8th Annual Youth Assembly: Building the Fire

Well, another YA has come and gone, and we’ve still got that glow that comes from seeing so many young people come from all over the world to talk about how to improve our planet. While the YA always puts some ‘logs on the fire’ in our desire to promote and accomplish the MDGs, there’s always the “what now?” question that follows for us, and for many of the delegates. We’d like to offer some ideas of how to keep that fire burning, and how to keep informed.

As various speakers discussed, the ubiquitousness of the internet is both a blessing and a curse to getting information these days. On one hand, there is information everywhere, and on the other, it’s hard to know where to start. One suggestion is starting where the YA was held; the UN. The UN has a great site with the status of each goal, and is updated fairly regularly. http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/.

Another great new site is JUMO.com. It’s essentially the Facebook of causes, where you can find what you’re most interested in, and find out how to get involved. One of the most impressive and inspiring aspects of the YA is seeing how much interest there is in the most serious problems of the world. As we saw from the Do Something.org representatives, young people can, and are having a tremendous impact on the biggest, toughest problems of our generation.

We love to see the passion and excitement that the YA brings, but, like you, sometimes we get discouraged by the vastness and depth of problems that never seem to end. That’s why we suggest picking something you’re genuinely interested in, focusing on that, moving steadily, and not getting overwhelmed. The parable of the man and the starfish comes to mind. There once was a man walking along the beach, tossing stranded starfish that had washed up on the shore back into the ocean. Another man passed by and asked the man tossing the starfish “Why are you even bothering to do this? There are thousands of these starfish here. You can’t possibly throw them all back. What difference does it make?” The man smiled, picked up a starfish, tossed it back into the ocean and replied “It made a difference to him.”

This is how we need to approach the MDGs, and indeed, all of society’s problems. People will say that finding a solution is impossible and doomed to fail, but we must smile, continue, and do what we can. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. We hope you found inspiration, tools, and insights at the YA, and will continue, as we will, to toss those starfish back into the ocean.

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