Support UNICEF – Get Tiara to the UN!

Yesterday I posted about the 4th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations in August, a global event that links young leaders with each other and with prominent people in social change, to learn about culture, leadership, and international issues, as well as work on UN resolutions and youth projects. Previous participants Girls and Boys Town program graduate Sharnise and National Society of High School Scholars member Daniel Sayani have written up reports on their past experiences, citing it as a positive, educational, and life-changing experience.

I have applied to be part of this year’s Youth Assembly, and I need help. To get the full experience of the Assembly, including the Leadership Seminar and the New York tour (amongst others), I need to sign up for a Travel Package. This package costs US$2300 (RM7952) and includes seminars, tours, accommodation, meals, inter-NY transport, as well as exclusive meetings and workshops. I also will get voting rights on UN resolutions to be presented by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in October.

I’m fundraising for the package fees, and I’m including an extra challenge:

If I get at least US$2300 by the end of July, I will donate RM1000 (USD$289) to UNICEF Malaysia.

If I do not make it for any reason, I will donate what I get to UNICEF.

I will be blogging about my Assembly experiences here during the trip. I am also considering setting up a Sponsor’s Thank You event to talk about my experiences and to allow UNICEF Malaysia to promote and fundraise for themselves. (This is subject to negotiation.)

Support Me

You can support my journey in the following ways:


Support UNICEF - Get Tiara To The UN! and make a donation at !

This button will lead you to my Pledgie page, where you can make a donation (named or anonymous). All donations will lead to my PayPal account, which I will use to pay the Travel Package fees. You don’t need a PayPal account to contribute; credit cards work fine. The RM1000 that’s going to UNICEF will come out of my own pocket. Any money I get above and beyond the US$2300 will go towards UNICEF.

Every dollar helps. Even if you can only spare $1, that’s fine. It all adds up, and either way, UNICEF gets money.


You can also sponsor me through providing the following:

  • Plane tickets, preferably Brisbane – New York – Brisbane or similar – I’ll be in university at the time (Aug 8 – 18), and the Travel Package doesn’t include travel to and from New York. If you are from an airline or know someone from an airline that’s willing to help out, let me know!
  • Airline miles – I’m an Enrich (Malaysia Airlines) member and have some miles, though not enough for a NY roundtrip.
  • Digital camera – I don’t have one. On loan is fine; I’ll return it safe and sound.
  • Business cards or MOO Cards – to distribute to networks during the Assembly. I’ve got some but not many!
  • Souvenirs of Malaysia – to give away to people during the Assembly (here’s a great marketing opportunity!)
  • Anything else that may be handy – I already have some things (like a laptop and a phone) but if you can suggest anything else, that’s fine.

If you are providing something in kind, please also consider contributing financially too.


For this to work, more people will need to know about it. PASS IT ON! Use the following links:

Feel free to email this to anyone and everyone you know, post it on blogs/forums/websites/etc, or write up about it in your press articles. I do kindly ask that you don’t spam anyone with this information: make sure it’s relevant to the place you’re posting it to.

What Do You Get?

By sponsoring me, you will:

  • Be linked to in a special Thank-You post on EducateDeviate, with information about your services (if applicable)
  • Have the opportunity for you and your products to be promoted to a global audience (if providing in-kind support)
  • Be invited to a tentative Sponsor’s Thank-You event, where I will share my experiences and promote UNICEF
  • Be associated with supporting youth, the United Nations, and global leadership initiatives
  • Be mentioned in any article written about the experience, if possible
  • Receive plenty of good karma

If you have any more ideas of what you’d like as a sponsor, comment here or let me know.

The Youth Assembly is less than two months away and I need to pay up very quickly to retain a seat. I stand by my pledge to support UNICEF no matter the outcome. Please support me in this challenge and support UNICEF too.

If you have any questions or comments, comment on this entry or contact me.

Thank you and have a great day!

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links for 2007-06-26

Head For the United Nations: Be Part of the 4th Annual Youth Assembly

Want a say in future United Nations resolutions? Interested in meeting celebrities, world leaders, and global youth? Looking for an experience of a lifetime? Then get involved with the 4th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations now!

This Youth Assembly, organized by the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation and supported by various consulates and embassies, aims to bring youth together through various activities and events based on culture, leadership, global and social change, peace, the arts, and much more. Participants will be able to meet celebrities and world leaders (including UN Director Jeffrey Sachs and Arun Gandhi, founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence and Gandhi’s grandson); obtain one-on-one leadership training; network with business, community, and youth leaders; get a grand tour of New York City; and so much more!

Delegates need to be aged 18-26, though those 16-18 can come with a parent. Adults who work in faculty and in youth or UN related projects are also invited to attend. Group registrations are available. Attendance is by application; you basically need to be of the right age and be able to obtain (or already have) a US visa, or can enter the US without one. The application fee is $95, though you can get a discounted rate of $50 if you are a citizen of a listed low-income or mid-income country. (The price is lower per person on group applications.)

While the 3-Day Assembly itself is free to accepted delegates, the FAF have organized various travel packages that include meals, accommodation, Metro passes, the Leadership training, the New York tour, voting rights, and various other events and activities according to package. These cost from US$675 (RM2331.65) to US$2300 (RM7944.90) but do not include airfare or insurance.

Within the Youth Assembly is also the United Cultures Peace Festival, which showcases cultural performances of all sorts from global youth. They are also scouting for high school and college performers to be part of their international lineup. Performers will also be able to participate in the Assembly as well as selected activities. If you would like to perform, drop them a line.

The 4th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations are in New York, USA from 12-15 August 2007, with various events taking place before and after the date. Applications close 13 July 2007.

I have something very interesting linked to this Assembly so keep an eye on EducateDeviate for the news. In the meantime, join me and APPLY NOW!

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links for 2007-06-25

links for 2007-06-24

Overworked? Take A Breather

The past month or so has been especially challenging for me. I was trying to deal with university, a relationship, and all sorts of extra-curricular activities, and my anxiety and depression were acting up. Eventually I collapsed under all that stress, and could not cope anymore. I had to let go of a lot of things: things I cherished but had no more energy for, and things that just weren’t working out anymore. The stress became too much and I just could not handle it anymore.

I am currently on holidays, resting and not taking on any responsibilities temporarily so I can recuperate. As I flick through sites online (my idea of relaxation), I come across plenty of articles from young people worried about exams, worried about their chances at getting into a university. It’s the season to get “serious” about exams, and the season for college admissions in many places in the world.

I found an interesting contrast. In Malaysia (and many other Asian countries), students are advised to concentrate wholly on studying. Extra-curriculars, jobs, and anything that is not academically-related falls to the wayside as all their focus goes on their books. In the US and Canada, though, extra-curriculars are given extra importance: everywhere students are asking which clubs to join, how to get leadership positions, how many volunteering hours to give per week. This is juggled on top of their jobs (common with students there) and with academics.

Though one group is solely academic and the other more varied, they’re both very busy. The Malaysian spends all morning in school, then goes for tuition classes, then hours of homework, with a Straight As Seminar and possibly a piano lesson during the weekend. The American has hockey practice in the morning, then all-day school, then a waitressing shift at a cafe, then more tutoring, Forensics, and volunteering at the homeless shelter on weekends, with homework as well. This does not even include family obligations – siblings to take care of, chores to do around the house.

There is hardly any time in all that for either person to rest, recuperate, or even take care of their basic needs – it’d be surprising if they could sleep! There is hardly any time for themselves.

What happens when students don’t get time to themselves? Damage.

Running on empty trying to fulfil every obligation, while lacking in rest and nutrition, will only lead to exhaustion. Illnesses prop us because the body is too weak to defend itself; they get worse when students decide to ignore them in favour of work. The brain gets tired and can’t process information optimally anymore. This leads to a decline in mental health – stress is a strong trigger for various depression and anxiety disorders.

The students suffer psychologically too. They are unable to enjoy their scholarly (or otherwise) pursuits; instead it all becomes work – a chore, something to be done instead of enjoyed. Not much is gained from the experiences: all that knowledge crammed in those nights disappears after the exams, and the different experiences gained during sports training or volunteering don’t get processed. Friends become competitors and enemies; mates pit themselves against each other, wanting to outdo the others. Everything else is left for later gratification, “suffer first, celebrate later” – but that gratification never comes as they pursue loftier goals. Things are being done for resume-padding, not for passion. Nothing is fun anymore.

The current traditional educational systems (whether Malaysian, American, or elsewhere) have not done much to take care of the students’ welfare and holistic health. A common edict in Malaysian schools is that no matter how ill you are, you still have to come to school – and if you’re bedridden you just have to study in bed. Colleges and universities become more competitive, leading students to push themselves to cram as many As and clubs in their resume as possible. The Super Students – Straight As, acceptance into Ivies and Oxbridge, plays 10 instruments, millionaire philanthropists – get front-page headlines, while the student who scored a few Ds or the student with a GPA of 2 jumps off a building and gets maybe a paragraph. The ones who get all As but one B, or misses 0.07 GPA points in the pursuit of being valedictorian, freak out and consider themselves doomed failures – with some teachers and parents reinforcing that view.

This is madness!

Students are not machines. Even machines need to be turned off once in a while, need to be recalibrated, need to be oiled. What more their bodies, minds, and souls! They need to take care of their needs too. They have very basic needs of nutrition, food, shelter, and love – those need to be fulfilled. We need to get away from thinking about what the students can do, and start thinking about how the students are.

In this blog I often highlight various opportunities for youths, as well as young people making significant differences in the world. Some of the young people I profile are particularly driven; the sort to take on a million projects at once. A lot of the projects I link to do require significant work – crafting a worthy proposal, working on a communal project. While I do encourage young people to take on those opportunities and make examples of those youth, I strongly urge everyone to think about yourself too.

You don’t have to do everything now. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. You are allowed to take breaks. You are allowed to delay, to take a rest. You are allowed to go at your own pace, to be as slow or fast as you want. You are allowed to do something mindless, something that doesn’t add anything to your transcript or resume but is enjoyable anyway. You are allowed to have passion. You are allowed to have fun.

(It’s a sad world when people need to be given permission to have fun.)

There are young people in the world, such as myself, who are just naturally driven – we take up almost every opportunity give to us, we do a lot in a small space of time, we try to do everything. While the dedication and drive is admirable, it isn’t always healthy. Without taking consideration for ourselves and our state of being, we’ll only end up crashing. Medication, hospital stays, and nervous breakdowns later, I am still trying to learn this.

For those folk who consider themselves driven, who dive into studies or volunteer 24/7 because they want to: keep up the spirit, but keep up yourself too. If you give yourself to everything, but don’t give anything to yourself, eventually you will have nothing to give anymore. You don’t have to sign up for everything. See if it fits into your schedule, think about whether you can truly commit to it or not. What’s the point in taking up so much if you can’t do your best in any of them? If you miss an opportunity, do not fret; as long as the world turns, there will still be chances.

You are not a failure if you only got one B. You are not worthless if you don’t have a leadership position in school. You are not lazy if you decide to take a day (or a week or a month) off school to reenergize and rest. You are not evil if you turn something down. It’s okay. Life still goes on.

Let’s all have some consideration for ourselves. We can’t just spend our time working. Let’s get some rest too.

Now get up from the computer, lie on your couch, and have a cup of tea. You deserve a break.

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Nominate Young Malaysians – AYA Dream Malaysia Awards & 50 Years, 50 Heroes

UPDATE: The folks at theCICAK are now offering up to RM5000 in prizes!

Do you know a young Malaysian who has done great things in their life? One that has touched others by their actions and deeds? One who is inspiring, heroic, or simply awesome? Give them the recognition they deserve by nominating them for an award or writing about them for an upcoming compilation.

1. The AYA Dream Malaysia Awards aim to encourage individuals and organizations to pursue their dreams despite hurdles and obstacles. Nominees are honoured in the AYA Dream Malaysia Awards Night, with the winners receiving the Durian – a symbol of cracking the hard shell to get to the fruit of your efforts!

Previous nominees and winners include Yvonne Foong, survivor of neurofibromatosis and advocate for awareness about the disease; Suzanne Lee, intrepid explorer and photographer whom I’ve featured here before as a local example of youth initiative; and IDP Education Malaysia, which helps prospective students going to Australia to study.

Nominations are now open for two categories: Most Outstanding Youth and Youth Friendly Company. Youth nominees must be Malaysians aged between 18 – 33, while companies must be incorporated in Malaysia. Shortlisted nominees (chosen by AYA) will be video-interviewed and be up for public voting. Nominations close 12 August 2007.

2. Online Malaysian youth magazine theCICAK is looking for entries for upcoming publication 50 Years, 50 Heroes: Young Malaysians You Need To Know. Like the AYA Dream Malaysia Awards, theCICAK is after stories of young people that have persevered through personal challenges to achieve their dreams, or have helped other people in doing so. These write-ups aim to document young Malaysians who do not normally get press attention, as well as highlight important issues that affect Malaysian youth and society, while inspiring readers to face challenges head-on and live their own lives.

The top three entries will earn their writers up to RM5000 in cash, while the Most Outstanding Hero (chosen by theCICAK readers) will win RM200. The top 50 stories will also be published in a book, with the First Place article being published in The Star. Entries will be judged by well-known Malaysian blogger Jeff Ooi; activist and columnist Marina Mahathir; poet and editor of online Malaysian literary magazine InkyHands, Nicholas Wong; and theCICAK co-founder and director Poh Si Teng.

Writers must be Malaysians aged 15 – 25 while their subjects must be Malaysians aged 12 – 29. Each piece must include at least one photograph of the subject as well as interviews with two other sources (to be collated into a source list with names and contact information). Entries can be in English or Malay and should not exceed 1000 words. Send all entries to with “Heroes” as the subject. Entries close 15 July 2007.

Show your young hero your appreciation – you may get lucky too.

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Social Enterprise and Youth: Making Differences Through Business

Ever shopped in a Salvation Army or Oxfam store? Read a copy of The Big Issue? Those, and many others, are examples of social enterprises – businesses run for social purposes.

Businesses need no longer make profits as their only focus, and helping the world does not need to be a non-profitable venture. It’s getting more common nowadays to combine capitalistic success with social responsibility, by forming businesses and companies that profit financially and help society in some way – from providing goods and services that benefit society (or benefit the organization’s social efforts), to providing skills and opportunities for disadvantaged people through employment. While the concept itself isn’t new (“social entrepreneur” was a 19th century term given to employers with genuine concern for their employees’ welfare), it is steadily gaining more prominence as corporations think about Corporate Social Responsibility and people realize that saving the world does not necessarily mean eschewing capitalism.

One big boost has been the recent Nobel Peace Prize win of Bangladesh’s Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank – the company that introduced microfinance, or very small loans to help people in developing communities form businesses to support themselves and others. You too can get involved in international microfinance – check out Kiva to read about and loan money to various small ventures around the world, from a grocery shop in Ecuador to a textile maker in India, just for a minimum loan of US$25 (RM86.50).

Young people have been especially vital in social enterprise – not just as consumers, but also as founders, supporters, and maintainers. Websites such as Youth Venture and YouthActionNet have sprung up to provide resources, tips, networks, and even funding for youth social enterprises. The folks behind YouthActionNet, the International Youth Foundation, have also published Our Time Is Now, which profiles several young people making major differences in the world through social enterprises and social projects.

A lot of available resources are concentrated in the Western world, but Asian youths do have some strong support. One such resource is the Youth Social Enterprise Initiative (YSEI), a South-East Asian organization that provides resources, funding, and networking for Asian young social entrepreneurs. Their website is chock-full of information – videos with leading social entrepreneurs, the FutureShifters blog and network, and guidebooks on starting and managing social enterprises. They also offer a fellowship that provides up to US$15,000 (RM51,891) in start-up funding, as well as mentorships, workshops, and networking.

If you already have a social enterprise project in its pilot stage, apply now to be part of the Global Young Social Entrepreneurs’ Competition 2007, part of the 3rd Global Knowledge Conference (GK3). If your project is picked, you will be able to pitch it for potential funding at the Forum, as well as take part in networking and development workshops.

The conference will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the 11th – 13th December 2007. 100 selected participants of the competition will be sponsored (with 10 pitching), but you can also be part of the forum by registering for GK3. Registration is US$350 (RM1210.80) and will be open on 1 July 2007. Applications for the Entrepreneurs competition close 15 August 2007.

Got a business idea that will change the world? Make use of these resources and get your project started!

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links for 2007-06-08

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