I HAVE always wanted to be a leader. I may not have been born one, as I was quite timid and quiet during my early school years, but through hard work, lessons and mentoring from my peers and seniors, I ascended to the top of my leadership climb.
I was elected Student Government President, led student-run business organisations and even received honorary opportunities to lead global youth movements and campaigns. Who would have thought that these experiences would come in handy as I was on the shortlist of eight finalists for Your Big Year. On the final day of the competition, the top eight participants were announced. We were separated from our teams, whom we bonded with over the course of the challenge. We told them the harsh reality that we were one step away from winning the competition.
The eight participants were randomly paired. My team member was Carielle Doe,an award-winning young journalist from the United States.
The sponsors defined a global ambassador as adaptable, approachable and innovative in making challenging circumstances work and with the interest to represent the public.
Doe was a few years older than I am and was regarded as one of the most competitive participants. Every participant was a gem as they had qualified from a pool of 45,000 applicants around the globe.
CONVINCING THE WORLD
We were tasked to deliver a 10-minute pitch about ourselves to 300 dignitaries, diplomats and business leaders, the Press and student leaders gathered in the prestigious Liver Building in Liverpool.
Our speech was streamed live to thousands tuning into the show, which have received much publicity.
It was like going to an election except that your constituents were the general population of the world. You are only given six hours to prepare your pitch and you are your own advocate. There were no posters or month-long campaigns.
We were given the evening off to work with our partners. We were to present the pitch early in the morning.
Doe and I worked well together and we prioritised our strengths. Our strategy was to inform the voting public about our strengths as their candidates, lay out our vision for our year’s worth of travels as global ambassadors and list our commitments to help social enterprises, non-government organisations (NGOs), charitable bodies and government agencies which we will be working with in 22 countries... should we win.
TIME OF OUR LIFE
Before we knew it, it was time to present. Doe spoke first, convincing the audience that her work experience and technical know-how in journalism, photography and story-telling would help capture pivotal moments in our world trip to raise awareness on social issues.
And then, it was my turn — I brought the audience on a journey to envision the future of the global expedition to 22 countries under my leadership.
The importance of leading by example was emphasised as we will be volunteering to make a difference to others. I also shared about sustaining volunteerism efforts by inspiring local youth to give back.
I pleaded with the crowd that it voted based on the vision though I may be the minority in this “election” (the only Asian left in the competition).
I promised the audience an inclusion in my plans and that I welcomed hosting discussion groups in universities, working with local NGOs, governments and social businesses.
After a day of pitching by the finalists, we returned to our hostels to rest. Votes were being tabulated, both from the 300 attendees to the thousands who voted online.
The grand announcement was made later in the evening at Liverpool Town Hall, a historic place where many of Great Britain’s leaders including the Queen had graced.
The final announcement was made by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool in the presence of 500 invited guests, from top leaders in the UK and the most accomplished entrepreneurs and chief executives to heads of global NGOs.
Just an hour into our evening banquet, the two winners were announced — and I had won! Malaysia had won. We are now Global Ambassadors for Youth across the world.