Friday, November 25, 2011

Were the good old days really that much better?

I often hear older aunts and uncles say how ‘In the good old days morals were much better, or the world was less materialistic…etc.’

While we see terrorism and murders and rape in the newspapers every day, there are also lot of young people getting involved in social services and trying to make the world a better place. Unfortunately the virtuous acts of people are not as news worthy as the ‘horror stories’ and so we continue to only hear about how the world is getting worse each day.
So in this blog post I thought of highlighting some amazing young people who have come up with creative ways of helping each other. Most of these are students or normal people like you and me. While there is also a trend of famous millionaires and celebrities such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Matt Damon, Bon Jovi establishing their own Not-for-profit (NFP) organisations, I will not go into those which get enough publicity but just mention a few examples of youngsters trying to improve the world even if it is in their own small way.

 Just yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the final presentations of undergrad students for their subject on team work. The assignment was to work in teams and achieve something larger than themselves. I was very touched by the dedication and creativity of these students. One group worked with the residents at Sahanaya (National Council for Mental Health) where they conducted art therapy classes with the residents who were given materials to make Christmas cards and then these cards were sold to raise funds for the organisation. Another group worked with a very poor school to buy them books, another worked on empowering young girls by teaching life skills, and yet another decided to help the cleaning ladies of their own university. At the end of the session most of the students said that at the beginning they worked on these projects in order to get the marks, but at the end they were so moved by the project that they wanted to continue the work they started even after the end of the project.

Another young group of students trying to make a difference from the University of Colombo have come up with their own organisation, Empower Lanka.  Their mission is to provide free electricity for rural villages to help them break out of the poverty cycle and to reduce Sri Lanka's carbon emissions. This organisation was supported by ‘GlobalChange Makers’ a vibrant community of young activists, volunteers and social entrepreneurs. The Global Change Makers community activists and social entrepreneurs aged 16-25 who are actively bringing about positive change with the support of the British Council.

Even in MBAs subjects on philanthropy and social entrepreneurship have become more popular. When I was in Cambridge (2006/07), we had an elective on social entrepreneurship but it was cancelled due to lack of students, but now subjects on these areas seem to be much more popular in most MBA schools. Here is an article from Business Weekly on the subject http://www.businessweek.com/business-schools/philanthropy-gains-eager-followers-in-bschools-08172011.html.

Cambridge University has started a new venture called Beyond Profit in their own words the mission of Beyond Profit is to inspire and support students to make the world a better place through their career or through entrepreneurship. 

Another example of young students using technology and web 2.0 in tackling the world’s major issues is End Ignorance. It is a collaborative non-profit online platform that addresses today’s most pressing issues ranging from extreme poverty to genocide by informing individuals and providing easy access to opportunities to get involved. The content is written collaboratively by volunteers around the world and it has a similar concept as Wikipedia.

Maybe the youth of today want to do something larger than themselves, or maybe after the Financial crisis they realised the temporary nature of material things and thought of doing something more… or looking for their purpose in life, in a world where religion and spirituality seems to be disappearing… With the advent of the internet and web 2.0 privileged youngsters also have the opportunity to learn more about what is happening outside their ‘happy homes’. Whatever the reason there is hope for the future… So I don’t think the ‘good old days were better than today’.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Emma said...

Really inspiring :)

4:57 pm, November 25, 2011  
Blogger jessy said...

I really like your blog it's really nice.

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2:26 pm, November 05, 2013  
Blogger jessy said...

Cool Blog!!

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