I am a young change agent from Lebanon, and this is my story!
Once my teacher asked me who I wanted to be in the future and what my goals in life are, but I never knew what to say, so that time I answered – like any person my age would – to have a decent career and to get married. But I wasn’t satisfied or convinced by the fact that my future had already been made. The true question remained: “Can the community build the life of young people? Or are youth going to build the community?”
Since 2014, the UNESCO-EU NET-MED Youth project has given youth hope to finally find the real answer.
You might wonder what NET-MED Youth is...
Actually studies have drawn the attention to that social and somewhat marginalized class, and here remains the main goal of NET-MED Youth in which young members are the primary leaders and beneficiaries.
Five months ago, 40 young people, including myself, were given the chance to be part of an empowering initiative which provided us with the tools and support we needed to be full participants in building our community and future. Lebanon had the opportunity to move one step closer towards having its first Youth Shadow Council for the Union of Municipalities, through an activity in coordination with the Union of Municipalities of South Metn, and in collaboration with the Municipality of Hazmieh. Youth participants from three municipalities (Hazmieh, Chiyeh and Furn El Chebbek) were part of training workshops on topics such as public speaking and communication skills, leadership skills, Municipal law, proposal writing, fund raising, project management, and social media. All these qualifications were provided by specialist lecturers who didn’t only share the knowledge with us, but also encouraged us to use it and explore new venues for it.
This was our experience which will be part of practical work after the election process to help us form the first municipal youth council for a Union of Municipalities in Lebanon. To me, this means that we as youth will take part in the development of the community and civic engagement.
Nevertheless, my journey wasn’t limited to just five months of training workshops, but I was able to participate in an EU Information Soirée on February 13, 2017 at the Beirut Art Center. The event aimed to involve young participants from different EU-funded projects to share their learnings and experiences. As a member of NET-MED Youth, I feel I succeeded in widening my knowledge about young people and especially on “How to be an Agent for Positive Change?”, the theme for that event.
A diversity of experts and members of EU-funded projects such as NET-MED Youth were present. As a young participant, I had the opportunity to discuss and share my experience and learnings. I also did a lot of networking with other youth. At the venue, NET-MED Youth had a stand presenting the project and different items like brochures, pins, stickers, and USBs… During the Information Soirée, I had the opportunity to draw other participants’ attention to such an empowering project. The networking session was followed by a cocktail and allowed all young participants to continue their discussions and networking.
That was the end of a useful Soirée yet the beginning of a new chapter of youth empowerment.
Active projects like NET-MED Youth give us the ability to accept the fact that we are that positive agent who aims for change, not only for ourselves but for our community, as well. Who doesn’t want to be free and young, or independent and an agent of change? Being a change agent doesn’t only depend on knowledge or age. It is a state of mind. What this world needs is a young spirit!
Organizations can and will support youth, so why not get involved?
My experience and participation gave me the answer, a real one.
So now when people ask me who I want to be and what’s my goal, I won’t just make a guess, but I will know!
Rita Bitar is 17 years old. She is from Tripoli-Mina and lives mostly in Beirut-Ain el Remmeneh, Lebanon. Rita is a senior student considering to pursue her studies in psychology. She leads a very active life. Rita spares no effort to engage as a volunteer in organizations such as Caritas-Lebanon, the scouts, and so on. She presently works on a part-time basis as a children animator. Rita like dance, writing and reading. Her ambitious and inquisitive self makes her see and do things out of the box.
Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.