By Jasma Vekaria (YES 2009-2010, India, hosted by AFS in Milwaukee, WI) and Vyom Raisurana (YES 2010-2011, India, hosted by AFS in Palos Verdes, CA)
Climate change has affected every individual on this planet in some form and curbing further damage to the planet will require action from every single person. We, as YES alumni, wanted to raise awareness that climate action is everybody’s priority. Governments, not-for-profit organizations, and social welfare organizations are doing their part, but evidently that is not enough. We have collectively damaged the environment, and we must collectively work to repair it. We decided to act by engaging in dialogue and collaboration with our peers, including fellow YES alumni.
From May 27 to June 10, we organized a series of three online workshops called “Do Your Bit.” As the phrase itself states, we wanted to develop an action-oriented project that empowers young leaders to “do their bit” through local projects, to take up leadership roles in their community, redefine what it means to be an environmental leader, and become role models for others in their community. The situation may seem very complex, but at its roots is very simple — every individual has the power to be part of UN Sustainable Development Goal #13: Climate Action.
The project received enthusiastic and overwhelming participation from 32 exchange alumni from India, Egypt, Pakistan, Malaysia, Mongolia, and Bhutan, including YES program alumni from Egypt and Malaysia. Ninjin from Mongolia shares, “It was delightful to see and discuss with people from different countries who have a mutual passion to fight climate change. It was also very interesting and inspiring to find out what actions other countries are taking on this issue. I believe that if we keep consistently sharing our ideas and doing whatever we can as young people, we can definitely make a positive impact in the future.”
The participants discussed factors affecting climate change in their respective communities and researched and exchanged information on NGOs and other local, independent initiatives working towards environmental conservation. Using this knowledge, the participants then designed and presented their own projects to implement in their communities or outlined ways they could collaborate with existing initiatives. The participants were encouraged to design projects that will be sustainable and have a noticeable impact to drive the spirit of awareness and collective good across the globe. By the end of the workshops, 22 project ideas had been submitted and discussed!
Egyptian alumna Tasneem Mohamed (YES 2015-2016) joined the final webinar to speak about sustainable agriculture, creating simple home gardens, composting, and tips to reduce plastic use or upcycle it for use in sustainable gardening. She even used her Zoom session to teach us how to grow onions, tomatoes, and carrots!
Syed from India wrote, “Projects like Do Your Bit are one of those golden projects which are must needed in the world today. Focusing on such a crucial SDG and spreading awareness about it is the thing to do. Not only did this project help me gain more knowledge about different ways to counter climate change but also it helped me think more critically and find solutions to different problems. Listening to the solutions of different individuals gave me a brighter idea of the bigger picture.”
Thank you to YES alumni in Egypt and Malaysia for this successful collaboration! Big thanks also to the YES alumni outreach team in India who helped support this project: Vishakha Koshti (YES 2015-2016) from Ahmedabad, Mohammed Bilal (YES 2018-2019) from Hyderabad, Jash Shah (YES 2018-2019) from Kolkata and Dushyant Saraf (exchange student to Russia) from Indore.
As lead trainers of this initiative, we are so proud of the YES alumni leaders across the globe who are prepared to turn their actions into reality by doing their bit to save the planet. Are you Do(ing) Your Bit?
Get in touch with a local alumni climate action leader today and have that dialogue. We know you love the planet as much as we do, and we want to help you make your initiative a reality.