University Students in Thailand lead by example

23 August 2013 – Mahidol Salaya Campus
23 August 2013 – Mahidol Salaya Campus

Mahidol University students organized an exhibition on “Earth Children” inspired by MYWorld campaign on August 23.  The exhibition showcased the winners of a photo contest based on the 16 choices of MYWorld survey and it was held during the University open day where hoards of High School students visited the campus where they might study in the near future.

Since June, a dedicated team of 30 student volunteers designed a creative campaign to engage their peers and their communities inspiring them to vote for MYWorld.   At the opening ceremony Ms Sinney Khamsuwan, one of the volunteers, proudly stated “We visited many communities nearby to explain about MYWorld and gathered close to 10,000 votes, mainly offline”.

These students also produced incredible videos, shared widely through social media, to let people know, in simple words, why and how they should take part in the global MYWorld survey! Their efforts did not go unnoticed by the University. Dr. Bundhit Virajariyavej, Vice-President of Student Affairs, Mahidol University, who presided over the opening ceremony, noted “the most important aspect of this campaign is to raise awareness among the students and general public and make them feel global citizens.”

Ms. Barbara Orlandini, Chief, Office of the UN Resident Coordinator, underlined that “this is only the beginning of the conversation.  Knowing that 20,000 people in Thailand voted for “a good education” is not good enough.  And getting deeper in this conversation will help policy makers translate people’s aspirations into concrete solutions.”

A speech contest among high schools’ student was also organised under the theme “Role of Youth in Development”. In the competition students had to express their views on why each of the MYWorld 16 priorities should be chosen.   The final speech opened the opportunity for students to share views on other ways to engage individuals in policy-making processes, beyond MYWorld.

“Even identical twins are different and so are men and women.” A young girl noted, while advocating for gender equality;” we need to learn to live with and respect our differences. All human beings are born equal and should be the given opportunity to realize their full potential. However, society imposes different roles on men and women.   Women make up half of the world’s population and yet are unable to realize their full potential.”

“Our world has changed tremendously”, stated another student bringing attention to why action on climate change should be chose as a priority.  “Average global temperatures have risen because of human actions, such as deforestation and driving.  The rise in levels of greenhouse gases emitted contributes to climate change, which causes more severe and frequent natural disasters, such as tsunami.”

Another boy student compares MyWorld to the concept of Newton’s law of attraction that opposing forces are attracted to each other, “MyWorld is used as tool to solicit voices of stakeholders from different parts to report back to the central body.   In moving beyond MYWorld, he proposed for the central body to outreach out to local communities through the district chief or village head to hear their specific problems and views on the future they want.”

MySocialMotion, a social enterprise, contracted by the United Nations to design the MYWorld National campaign, forged this strong partnership with the University and is working with other Universities, civil society movements and private companies countrywide to spread the word.

“Believing that every single one of us can “Mark the difference” it’s a result in itself.  It speaks of your sense of civic responsibility, your empowerment, your right to raise your voice for the Future you Want” said Barbara to the students.