Looking Back to Look Forward: Introducing New Youth Ambassador Fellowship
Starting 2020, the HundrED Youth Ambassador program is transforming into a year-long program for an active community of students and young leaders from around the world who are passionate about education’s potential and want to be a part of its change together.
For us, the HundrED Youth Ambassadors are the future education innovators of the world and through the fellowship, will learn about global education innovations, voice their feedback and opinions on the current education system and create projects that have the potential to lead change in their local contexts.
We spoke with Vrinda Gandhi, a 17-year-old Youth Ambassador from India on her experience with HundrED so far and what she hopes to get out of the Youth Ambassador Fellowship this year.
Who are the Youth Ambassadors?
HundrED Youth Ambassador (YA) community is a coterie of students from around the globe. We, as Youth Ambassadors, are passionate about education and share a common goal - to bring a change in the lives of people not receiving quality education and be a part of this change together. HundrED has shown me that there is no age barrier for someone wanting change and wanting to be the change. I have seen this community grow through our monthly meetings at Zoom, our conversation platform called Edmodo, and through opportunities that the larger HundrED community brings together, just for us. We are encouraged to actively participate in educational activities and conversations, therefore, bringing amazingly enthusiastic individuals together to converse, act and lead!
Why did you join the Youth Ambassador community?
I have always wanted to be a part of a movement that is empowering and inspiring; whether it be a rally to stop gender discrimination or being a Youth Ambassador for an NGO which shares educational innovations with the world for free. I first discovered HundrED while searching for communities accepting Youth applications that also worked at a global level. I deeply believe that education is a humanitarian right, and illiteracy is the root cause of most socio-economic problems across the world. To solve something, it’s important to first interpret its genesis. Along with my belief, my grandmother also struggled seeking education. Her life-stories, which always empower me, are the reason for her to become a teacher and mine to become a YA for HundrED.
As a Youth Ambassador, what did you do in 2019?
2019 was the year to learn about education, innovations and to have the opportunity to widen my knowledge and understanding of them. Through our EDMODO platform, I got to share my thoughts on different topics and got to answer questions asked by other members as well. Through projects like the #RememberEarth Campaign with the Global Oneness Project, our words made their way to the ISTE conference in Philadelphia (USA). As an advocate for sustainability, this was a huge achievement for me. At sixteen years of age, I got to know about the obstacles people face while receiving education in their country, which many of my age don’t know about. Not only did I meet intellectuals who are making this world better, but I also got the inspiration to do something of my own - to create magic in the hands of students from local impecunious communities.
What is your most memorable moment from the YA group calls?
I remember being very nervous for my first call on Zoom as I knew nothing about the YA community and how it worked. However, as I got more involved, I found my place. I even hosted a meeting myself and facilitated a live session from HundrED’s Facebook page. My favourite memory is definitely hearing about the different education systems around the world. We also discussed about the topic, ‘Students Taking the Lead’, exploring how students around the world are and can contribute to education change. I got to learn and take inspiration from other YAs who were already working on small innovations within their local community. For example, Jacob Bell, whom I also met during the HundrED Innovation Summit, is the founder of One Small Candle, a youth-run organisation showing young people how to make and sell high-quality candles to raise money and awareness about refugees globally.
What is your most memorable moment from the Youth Summit?
One of my favourite memories from the Youth Summit involves meeting people of my age who spiritedly take part in their country’s education system. The members of Helsinki Youth Council, visionary and impactful, explained their role in the development of education in Finland. Another favourite part of the experience was to live with other Youth Ambassadors who were in Helsinki for the week.
The Summit gave us the opportunity to meet everyday and discuss our lives, traditions, education systems and what not! It was an amazing feeling to know that other youth, representing their countries, also face similar problems and think alike. They were all passionate about education and together, we participated in various sessions from HundrED innovators. For example, Slam Out Loud from India inspired us to write our hearts out through slam poetry, whereas, Youth Express from Pittsburgh (USA) asked us about our opinions and ideologies on our respective education systems. I truly believe that the opportunity to participate in the HundrED Youth and Innovation Summit helped me gain confidence and believe that we can, together, create a future with erudite communities as one.
Who inspires you from the HundrED Community?
Everyone in our community has their own story to tell, and I’m glad to hear many of them. All of the ambassadors, youth ambassadors and innovators have shown their impactful and amazing abilities to transform education systems. Deepak Ramola, the creator of Project Fuel from India, is someone whose interactive session has stayed with me. I personally find his project very exhilarating. His words and work, both are heart-touching. I learned how life-lessons from one corner of the world can impact another person living far away. All we need is to keep the circle of sharing lessons going.
Alex Bell (who was recognised as the 2019 Ambassador of the Year) shared the stage with us when we shared our experience as being members of the community. He is changing the lives of many through XtalksWORLDlistens, a free-to-use global coaching programme for young people with poor connectivity. He helps share the voice of those often unheard of but have the spirit to be much more. I definitely took a lot of memories home, with a wish to do something notable and to be remembered by my work.
What is your hope for the HundrED Youth Ambassador program as it transforms into a one-year fellowship supporting young people as future education innovators?
I am really excited about the Fellowship. I believe it is going to be an amazing platform to learn and grow. The clear focus on creating an education innovation ourselves, as part of the Fellowship, will offer us a higher skill set as well as global exposure. I am grateful for the freedom to focus our projects on a field that we personally are interested in. I believe that each member will be able to learn the importance of active leadership and performance in the field of education, along with doing something notable for the world.
Once we graduate from the fellowship, as future citizens and leaders of our respective communities, I am hoping that the world sees us as innovators of education transforming our state to be equal, fair, and inclusive.
By Vrinda Gandhi, 2019 HundrED Youth Ambassador of Year
PLEASE NOTE: The next application round for the 2021 Youth Ambassador Fellowship will open in November 2020.