A couple of months ago, I found an online global community that recognizes the efforts of young people around the globe. It also seeks to empower them through providing an avenue for sharing ideas, dreams and vision. This global initiative transpired in an online platform called World Merit.
World Merit aims to bring people together for a common purpose. Each year, the community selects an ambassador who will travel around the world to share the vision, work on social projects, meet world leaders and provide more opportunities towards inspiring the next generation.
I was fortunate enough to be one of the finalists vying for this year’s Your Big Year (YBY) Ambassadorship. Competition tasks consisted of organizing an event to introduce World Merit in the community and documenting the stories of experts from various merit disciplines- highlighting their big year, the importance of their discipline and the aim to support the future generation. The process of completing these tasks has given me the opportunity to get to know the people of Merit, people whom I deeply admire.
By the end of August, YBY’s chosen top 12 will fly to San Francisco, California and be among the Merit Champions to compete in the final round of the competition. The winner will become an Ambassador and will pursue a one-year global journey of World Merit.
MERIT NEXT is the next big thing for the Merit community - the world’s most accessible and moving leadership program for millennials. This month-long program and internship will enable a handful of young and exceptional individuals to travel the world to learn, hands-on, from industry experts in the fields of media, business, entrepreneurship, culture, politics and public services, science and technology.
Leading this network is a pool of talented professionals working around the clock to assist the community. Heading the team is Chris Arnold, World Merit founder and creator of YBY. Chris’ primary goal of creating the community is to be able to link talents to opportunities and present young people with an effective network to industry leaders and mentors with strong knowledge base and a dose of inspiration.
Here are some of the interviews I conducted- inspiring stories of real people and how they, in their own efforts, supported the youth of today:
Your Big Year Interview - Senator Bam Aquino from Mark Aethen Agana on Vimeo. Interview link: https://vimeo.com/69704731
Ms. Cherrie Atilano, Founder & Social Entrepreneur of AgriCool (Expert on Social Entrepreneurship)
Your Big Year Interview - Ms. Cherrie Atilano from Mark Aethen Agana on Vimeo. Interview link: https://vimeo.com/69800622
Ms. Elma Arboleras, Filipino Inventor, iBus Project (Expert on Science & Technology)
Your Big Year Interview - Ms. Elma Arboleras from Mark Aethen Agana on Vimeo. Interview link: https://vimeo.com/70720850
Prof. Michael “Xiao” Chua, Philippine Historian (Expert on Culture)
Your Big Year Interview - Prof. Michael "Xiao" Chua from Mark Aethen Agana on Vimeo. Interview link: https://vimeo.com/70826737
Ms. Pacita “Chit” Juan, Founder & Former CEO of Figaro Coffee Co. (Expert on Business)
Your Big Year Interview - Ms. Pacita "Chit" Juan from Mark Aethen Agana on Vimeo. Interview link: https://vimeo.com/71020118
Ms. Jamela Aisha Alindogan, Producer & Broadcast Journalist, Al Jazeera English (Expert on Media)
Your Big Year Interview - Ms. Jamela Aisha Alindogan from Mark Aethen Agana on Vimeo. Interview link: https://vimeo.com/71234983
Hearing the stories of these individuals and how they made it big in their respective fields has been a liberating experience. True, it is inspiration and determination combined that pushed them in achieving so much. Believe in your Dreams. That was what most of them said.
From the words of Jamela Alingdongan, “When you want something, you follow through it. You stick to it and have the tenacity to really push through with what you want."
Talking about dreams, Prof. Xiao Chua tells the generation of today, "If you have dreams for yourself do not forget to include even a small part of it for your country."
Cherie Atilano, on the other hand, chose to stay in the country to help fellow farmers instead of a Fulbright scholarship offer. Her heart for the locals made her successful as a social entrepreneur at a young age. This same love for country is what fires up Chit Juan and Elma Arboleras to keep on fighting for a better Philippines.
The Filipino youth holds a big part in nation-building. People like Bam strived to empower the Filipino youth by providing them the right opportunities to maximize their potential and ultimately lead reforms for their country and fellowmen.
All of these advocacies, these firing desire for change and progress, these are the same reasons why I joined the World Merit community. These hopes ignited and relieved my dreams of fighting for a better world. I gained an incredible amount of energy and motivation from other members who continue to push one another to reach their full potential.
For me, YBY is more than a competition. It is beyond competition. It is not only fun. It is not only inspiring. It is a chance to be one and share genuine friendship with equally talented people worldwide. It is life-changing.
How about you? Do you have what it takes to join the biggest youth movement of your time?
Visit us at www.worldmerit.org.
Mark Aethen G. Agana, 25 years old, Manila, Philippines Finalist, 2013 Your Big Year Competition World Merit*
Mark Aethen G. Agana is a consultant in various NGO projects and an alumnus of The Outstanding Students of the Philippines. Follow him on Twitter @NonitoAgana or send him an e-mail through firstname.lastname@example.org .