When I… I want to… So that I can…
Sometimes living a good life in a flawed world can feel like this. We breathe and move, eat and work, we make eye contact with the people we pass on the street. In between, there are silences. Ellipses of time and missed connection. Questions. Who needs help? How can I help? Blanks.
Two representatives from Livework, a company specializing in service design, begin Day 02 of the Telenor Youth Forum by encouraging team members to fill in those blanks. After a briefing on the methodology, the TYF delegates break into teams and move into classrooms. It’s time to approach their broad, global goals, looking for something concrete.
This group stands in front of a rolling white board covered in columns of pink post-its. Alina Binti Amir of Malaysia steps up to read the first possible statement, filling in the blanks.
When I experience violence due to my gender, I want to know what my rights are and how to defend myself, so that I can prevent future violence.
Filling in the blanks leads to a variety of possible actions. Options. It’s empowering.
“If we’re going to come up with a solution, we need to address the mindsets of victims, observers, attackers and potential attackers.”
“Is attacker too harsh?” someone asks. In some cultures, people perpetuating violence don’t understand either what they’re doing or why they’re doing it.
The group lists resources whose perspectives are valuable to this topic: police, medical and mental health professionals, advocacy groups, the law.
This group sits around a tight group of desks. Their yellow post-its are clustered in a single column on the board.
“What did our expert say yesterday?” someone asks.
They’re discussing depression and suicide prevention. Assignment 01 was to interview two specialists in regards to the goal. After thinking about the expert insights overnight, it’s time to call that wisdom back and make it work in Assignment 02.
“It’s important to start as early as possible.”
“Where can we have the greatest impact?” asks Nora Nabila Ahmad Sabri of Malaysia. “A twelve-year-old might be depressed, but the level of that depression might not be as high as a sixteen year old’s.”
Again, disagreement. But the conversation is a vital thing, and it wriggles into a new shape.
“Maybe we need to think about emotional levels and stressors rather than age groups,” says Rafsan Sabab Khan of Bangladesh.
By the time they leave the room, they’ve identified a job to be done.
When I am not sure what’s wrong, I want someone to help me figure out what the problem is and how to deal with it, so I can find peace within myself and move forward.
The other three teams dialogue similarly about Education for Young Refugees, Unemployment and Social Instability, and Climate Change. For all, the conversation springs from this place. Questions, disagreement, movements to redefine key terms. Every chain reaction requires a first action.
Photos: Ihne Pedersen