How Blogging Has Impacted My Life (contest entry)

The people at Brazen Careerist, a Gen Y-oriented career and jobs website, are giving away a free ticket (worth US$425) to SXSW Interactive, one of the world’s biggest digital media conferences. To get a shot at the ticket, they’re asking people to write a post on how blogging has impacted their life. I’m a conference geek, and I’ve heard a lot of great things about SXSW, so I thought I’d give it a shot – something different, for EducateDeviate.

I’ve been online ever since 1995, when it first came to Johor (Malaysia). I immediately latched on to it as an avenue for expressing myself and meeting people. There used to be a children’s website (possibly named KidSpot) that I was very active on – I’d write stories, find penpals, and even get books to review by post. I loved the Internet and hardly went offline (save for one year when my parents wanted me to study).

The Internet, and all the variations of blogging – starting from personal sites on Geocities to online diaries at Diaryland and Livejournal – have impacted my life in a lot of ways. I’ve gained and lost friendships (and sometimes my sanity went with them!), gained entry to events that I wouldn’t even had heard of otherwise, be able to counsel and support other people with similar or connected life stories, and help others help themselves.

Here is a story that illustrates how the Internet (and, in a bit, blogging) has made a major impact, one of those impacts being the formation of EducateDeviate:

Ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to be an exchange student. My overprotective parents hardly let me out of their sight, and when the opportunity finally came up (at 16) by AFS Malaysia they only allowed me to apply to the Japan program because it was free. Of course, being free (it was sponsored by the Japanese Government), it was highly selective. I wasn’t too keen on Japan, but it was the closest I’ll ever be to being an exchange student, so I applied.

And was rejected.

To console myself, I decided to send a music request to By Demand, a then-new interactive music request show on Channel [V] International. The channel thought my request was pretty cool, so they had me as a caller on the show. I liked the experienced, and loved the show, so I made [my demand], a fansite for By Demand and their hosts, Adrian da Silva and Asha Gill.

This unexpectedly made me a celebrity amongst the [V] crew at the time. I was a regular caller/contributor and the crew, especially Asha, became very good friends. [V] moving and losing contact with Asha the next year became really tough personally (I was dealing with panic disorder and depression, and it was a major exam year) and I kept online journals documenting my thoughts and struggles.

In my first gap year in 2003, I used the Internet to search for opportunities and build an interesting life for myself. Asha and I got back in touch, and she got me to set up her official website. I also joined The Star-BRATS, and travelled to the US mainly for an American Idol concert (I was a major fan of Clay Aiken at the time) and received some notoreity amongst the Clay Aiken fandom – including a stint on national news! – for having travelled so far.

I entered my first university in 2004 and used the Internet to keep up with what was going on in KL, thereby starting my work in activism. My desire to be an exchange student still lingered, and I spent about a year looking up options. It was a comment on a post in Livejournal that led me to Up with People, and eventually the best experience of my life.

My Up with People trip showed me the power and joy of experiential learning, and – having talked to some of my school juniors about their experiences – knew that there was a demand for information but not enough resources. While in Dhaka (for my cousin’s wedding) I decided to start off the New Year with my thoughts on education and the year ahead. And so EducateDeviate was born.

Through EducateDeviate I’ve documented social trends in education, explained alternative education (and some of its forms), showcased opportunities unheard of by Malaysians or founded by Malaysians, and featured inspiring young people. A letter that turned into an article (and a blog post) became one of the most popular posts here. I’ve helped people close to despair and supported other young people helping their peers. There were attempts at a blog carnival and at an e-book, and a decent go at a blogathon fundraiser. There is also the push for more young people speaking at conferences – the list is still one of EducateDeviate’s most popular posts and will soon be a project with the International Young Professionals Association. And ther were always plenty of resources – what I wish I had some years ago. Because of all the young people that come together to support this site, EducateDeviate managed to gain an award – thank you everyone, it’s an awesome honour and it helps spread the word further.

I managed to get a little bit of notoriety during the UN Youth Assembly last year for my liveblogs, and spun that into some media experience with the GK3 Young Social Entrepreneurs Forum, which has led me to a whole bunch of interesting people and projects – as well as the utterly fantastic BrainStore company, which even gave me a paying research gig! There’s been other things like those too – mainly by building off one opportunity and seeing where that takes me. I’ve learnt a lot from some very inspiring bloggers, and was heartened to see that someday I could make my mark on local government with a blog as my starting point.

Sometimes I wish I was more like Gala Darling or the people at NOTCOT – the sheer popularity and influence of my blog leading to fantastic opportunities everywhere, all expenses paid! I did just get recently asked to speak at an AIESEC Malaysia conference (I can’t make it because I’m still here in Brisbane but good luck guys!) and I did get a free DVD to review, so I’m probably coming close. (All-expenses-paid trips to something like SXSW are still desired though, hint hint!) It takes luck, work, and keeping your eyes alert.

I’m already over a thousand words with this article, yet I could go on and on about how my blogging and involvement in social media (not just with EducateDeviate, but for other things) have let to an interesting and fascinating network, lots of experiences I wouldn’t have even imagined otherwise, and the propensity to give things a go even if it doesn’t look all that possible – you never know where it will take you!

I may slow down with EducateDeviate someday, or refocus – I would love to bring its work offline and do more real-world projects. However, blogging and the Internet will still be a core component of what I do and who I am.

I’ll end this with a cute little anecdote: blogging got me love. There’s a foreign exchange community on Livejournal and one of the posters used to create a comic strip about her experiences. We got to talking and she told me about International House, a university college in Brisbane. She convinced me to come stay there while I’m in Brisbane, and that was where I met my boyfriend. Two and a half years on, we’ve had our dramas and comedy, but we’re still going great. Who knows where this may lead!

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EducateDeviate on the Staples Youth Social Entrepreneur Competition

Check out EducateDeviate on Staples

Check out EducateDeviate on Staples

The Staples Youth Social Entrepreneur Competition, hosted by Ashoka and Youth Venture, provides young people and youth organisations the chance to showcase their project online around the world. Projects will be evaluated and voted on, and the best projects go on to win a variety of prizes.

EducateDeviate is one of the projects listed for this competition – check out our application page and leave us some comments! You can see all the other projects (from 46 countries) here.

If you have a project and want to give this a shot, you have until October 15, 2008 6:00 pm EST (21:00 GMT) – which isn’t long!

Be at the 2008 Global Youth Forum in Armenia – here’s how

My sister alerted me to ASTRO’s competition to send a young Malaysian to the 2008 Global Youth Forum:

We are banking on you, the country’s youth population, to generate fresh and innovative ideas to win a berth at this year’s United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) Global Youth Forum to be held from 21 – 24 October in Armenia! This competition, The Malaysian Chapter, is open to all Malaysian youths aged 18 – 25 years (individual or two members per team), who would have to select one or incorporate all of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals in a written document, a 3 – 5 minute video, or an active electronic presentation demonstrating their strategies, plans and solutions in addressing and achieving these goals.

The Eight UN Millennium Development Goals are:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV / AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development

If your entry is selected, we will then award you and/or your team a paid trip to participate and showcase your work at the 2008 UN GAID Global Youth Forum in Armenia!

So hurry, think of how you can save the world today. And together, we could make a difference!

Let’s make Malaysia proud! Enter THE MALAYSIAN CHAPTER of the UN GAID Global Youth Forum 2008, TODAY!

Entries* must be submitted together with the Registration Form via post to the following address or email to yd@astro.com.my and all Contest entries must reach Astro on or before 11.59pm on the 25th September 2008 to be eligible for the contest.

*Maximum file size 10MB

Astro Youth Dynamics Division
Astro Entertainment Sdn Bhd
Ground Floor Wisma Penyayang
No 6 Jalan Equine
Taman Equine Bandar Putra Permai
43300 Seri Kembangan
Selangor,
Malaysia

I’m glad that companies like ASTRO are completely on board in supporting young people. This is a great initiative (don’t get scared off from “Armenia”) and I truly encourage everyone to give this a go.

Imagine It! – Promote Creative Thinking

6 days. A stack of Post-It notes. Teams of university students and budding entrepreneurs worldwide.

The task: Create additional value.

The results: Imagine It! – a documentary about entrepreneurship and creative thinking, showcasing the added value those teams created out of Post-It notes.

Watch the Imagine It! video

The Imagine It! project was part of Global Entrepreneurship Week last year, with the competition organized in Stanford, attracting participants from all over the world. The projects featured in this video are:

  • Selling fast-food to uni students, using Post-Its to take orders
  • Teaching entrepreneurship to elementary school students by getting them to draw their inventions on Post-Its
  • Collecting messages to and from Thailand’s disabled community while raising awareness about disability issues
  • Collecting feedback and personal opinions about the newly-drafted Thai constitution
  • What’s Your Post-It? – “if you had one Post-It to write to yourself, somebody else, or the world, what would it say?”
  • Creating Post-Its into characters to raise awareness about leukaemia
  • Collaborative music by combining musical snippets contributed by people
  • Comedy about organizing girlfriends with Post-Its
  • Encouraging uni students to unplug their unused appliances and conserve energy
  • Collecting the wisdom from the brightest minds of Stanford
  • Pledging the public to be Heart-Smart
  • Notifying Ecuadorian drivers about the dangers of parking/driving on pedestrian crosswalks
  • Collecting donations to be sent to Kiva, a microlending organization

These are only some of the many university groups that took part in this challenge.

The video also features interviews from Internet entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki; John Hennessy, president of Stanford University; Debra Dunn, director of the Skoll Foundation; and many more.

The Global Entrepreneurship Week will take place from November 17-23 2008. Check out their website and get involved!

Win KaosPilot A-Z 2: Essays on social enterprise

KaosPilot A-Z 2

I am giving away a copy of the now-rare English edition of KaosPilot A-Z, which is filled with essays and stories about social entrepreneurship from KaosPilots board members and friends, such as the late Dame Anita Roddick and Alan Webber of Fast Company, as well as an alphabetical look into life as a KaosPilot.

This book can be bought for DKR 280,- or €40, which doesn’t include shipping and handling. I got mine from a second-hand dealer and it cost me AU$70 all up. And I’m going to give my copy away!

All you have to do is answer these simple questions. All the answers can be found on the KaosPilots.NL website. You’ll also need to describe the KaosPilots Netherlands in your own words. Don’t worry, we don’t need essays )

Anyone can enter! Just get all your entries in by 30th April 2008. The results will be posted here by the 3rd of May at the very latest, and I’ll get in touch with the winner to send the book over.

Don’t hesitate, it’s just a simple task.

Enter Now!

Some reviews of KaosPilot A-Z 2:

Fast Company
WorldChanging
Pioneers of Change

Reviews of the original Danish edition, KaosPilot A-Z (the version I’m giving away is in English)

Global Social Ventures Competition 2008 – Call for Entrants

Got an idea for a socially or environmentally viable enterprise? Take part in the Global Social Ventures Competition 2008!

Organized by the top business and entrepreneurship schools in the world (including UC Berkeley, Columbia Business School, London Business School, Indian School of Business, and Yale), this competition aims to provide mentorship, exposure, and support to student-led social enterprises worldwide. Teams compete for over $45,000 in cash and travel prizes, and receive valuable feedback on their plans.

Each team must have at least one student currently in graduate business school or one who was graduated from business school in the past 24 months. Companies less than 3 years old can also apply. Projects can be for-profit or non-profit, but must be financially self-sustaining.

Past winning projects are available, and the GSVC have provided plenty of Social Impact Guides to aid competitors.

Executive summaries are due January 16th, so hurry!

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