Dream with a Purpose - Ben de Lima
Updated: Sep 27, 2021
MABUHAY ANG KABATAANG AKTIBO SA PAGTUGON SA MGA KAILANGAN NG LIPUNAN! (Salute to the youth who actively responds to the needs of the society!)
Ever since when I was a child, being part of international youth congresses and student forums was indeed a dream. It's the hype, experience, traveling, and meeting fellow youth who share the same values and principles is what made me put this on my bucket list. Unfortunately, events and conferences like these cost a lot of money, time, and effort. As a normal middle-class kid from the Philippines, this was a far-fetched dream. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, making all international transactions a huge hassle. But, when something's really meant for you, it will surely find its way.
It started as a simple application and ended as a wonderful confirmation of me being an official delegate for the first-ever ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership (AASYP)'s Digital Dialogue under the Emerging Economies Stream. I couldn't comprehend how big this opportunity came my way and now I officially participated in such a huge program. Under my stream, I was able to share my experiences as a university student living in one of the most typhoon-prone provinces in the Philippines and how it manifests the apparent digital divide. From one of the countries which suffer the most natural disasters, I was happy that I was able to provide a glimpse of my narrative to the ASEAN and Australia region as this paved a way for fellow Filipinos like me to be heard, seen, and acknowledged.
First of all, I would like to thank the whole AASYP team for being able to trust me. The reassurance I got from such diverse and talented people across the globe is overwhelming. To my fellow delegates, I was in awe when I met you guys. From fellow leaders, working professionals, government employees, educators, and students, the roster was very impressive. Given this, not a hint of doubt and intimidation was personally felt because you all made the space very safe. You were all amazing. Shoutout to my buddy, Devin, who was super nice and warm, it was a nice experience talking to such a substantial person. With our short buddy meeting, I was able to travel virtually to Australia because of your stories. Hope we could catch up again sometime soon.
What an amazing journey to contribute to policy-making during a time where the youth needs to collaborate for social impact and change. My passion for youth participation continues to ignite as opportunities like the Digital Dialogues come my way.
Indeed, it was a dream come true. I was able to dream with a purpose.