Lessons on Being Young from the Digital Dialogues Weekend
On August 28th and 29th, 2021, I had the fantastic opportunity to be selected amongst the 60 delegates from ASEAN-Australia. I participated in the inaugural Digital Dialogues program, a two-day online conference, and policy ideation workshop held by the ASEAN-Australian Strategic Youth Partnership (AASYP). I was assigned to the Emerging Economies stream. My fellow delegates and I had the fantastic opportunity to learn about the digital divide and its impact on the region’s growing digital economy.
One of the things discussed at the conference was making the potentials and resources of rapid digitalization more inclusive and accessible to all. In that spirit, I decided to share some of the lessons and takeaways that I resonated with, hoping that they will resonate with you as well. After looking through my ten takeaways, I realized that they all share a centralized theme: how we can be productive, intuitive, and active young people in the region that can positively impact our communities. Hence, the takeaways that I am sharing here will be grouped based on that ethos and divided into three groups: A Young Mindset, which are lessons about what we must have as a young person in this era, Being Young in a Pandemic/Post-Pandemic Workforce, which is some of the tips that I got from the speakers about embracing our roles as young professionals in the pandemic/post-pandemic economy, and Being Young in ASEAN-Australia, which are lessons about what it takes to be a collaborative and productive young person from the ASEAN-Australia region. Without further ado, here are the takeaways; I hope you find them as helpful as I did!
1. A Young Mindset
a. Being young today means that you will never stop learning. Therefore, you must find ways to love the learning, unlearning, and relearning process. By doing this, you will always remain curious about the developments of the world around you, aware of your faults and limitations, and willing to improve yourself each day.
b. Be humble and aware of your self-limitations. Continuing from the point that I made previously, a part of approaching learning as a lifelong journey means being brave and comfortable enough to admit your self-limitations. Our region is very diverse, so there’s always something you don’t know about the region, the people in them, and the issues we are facing. Hence, it is essential to admit this self-limitation so that you’ll continue learning and growing as a better person.
c. Diversity cannot only be viewed from one perspective. The word itself, ‘diversity’ or ‘diverse,’ already means something more than one, so of course, you cannot view diversity simply through one viewpoint. As our region is culturally, socially, and economically diverse, we need to be aware that these diversities cannot be oversimplified into simple statements and points. We young people need to see this diversity as a rich asset to solve problems, create evidence-based policies, and not see it as a hindrance that must be eliminated.
d. Change comes with small, incremental, consistent actions. One of my favorite parts of Tamerlaine Beasley’s opening keynote address during the conference was how she strongly reminded us about the importance of creating a growth-oriented mindset. All the lessons I’ve mentioned above particularly points 1A and 1B, can clearly explain what a growth-oriented mindset means. She also reminded us about the importance of realizing that change comes in small and incremental forms, which I think is very important for young people today.
2. Being Young in a Pandemic/Post-Pandemic Workforce
a. Suppose you cannot compete, then you must learn how to collaborate. This statement resonated with me because it reminded me how important it is to collaborate with other people to solve our region’s most pressing issues. These issues are often too big for one person to address, so it is vital to find like-minded people with similar values and purposes to share the journey—and burden—ahead. It also resonated with me because, as a competitive person, it reminded me about something bigger about winning the competition: collaborating to achieve a common goal that will benefit more people than just myself.
b. Learn financial and digital literacy early. Our region is growing more digital each day, and it will be an even more significant part of our lives each day. Learning to work alongside these changes, instead of against them, will be crucial to our survival, for lack of less morbid words. They are very, very important, so this topic was discussed more in-depth during the conference.
c. Compassion, empathy, resiliency, and adaptability, and the ability to work in a multidisciplinary setting. One of the conference’s speakers, Dr. Sandy Chong, emphasized those five essential qualities employers seek in prospective candidates today. I find this information very important for young people today, especially those like me, just out of university and currently looking for their first jobs, so I decided to share it here!
d. A successful team must establish a sense of psychological safety and trust so everyone can safely ask smart questions, actively listen, and articulate their concerns. Our opening keynote speaker, Tamerlaine Beasley, shared this interesting fact with us. Based on her experience in consulting many intercultural teams, the most productive ones can find their work style and rhythm and establish a strong sense of trust and safety amongst the team members. A sense of psychological security makes each team member comfortable to voice their concerns, worries, and challenges without worrying about prejudice. This fact gives a new insight into how intercultural works can work productively, especially when on a long-term project.
3. Being Young in ASEAN-Australia
a. To participate actively in the region, get to know it! Relearn about your country, your roots, your communities, and expand from there. I think this goes without saying, but this is something I went through. Having spent the past four years studying in Japan, not only did I learn about this beautiful country, I got to know and relearn about my home country, Indonesia, from a whole new perspective. I think that relearning and seeing your country, roots, and communities from a new perspective will only enrich your understanding of where you come from. It will ultimately make you understand the issues that our communities are facing so much better.
b. A large part of being resilient relies on the connections that you made with your communities, so build and maintain lasting relationships. I think that this takeaway goes both ways, both in personal and professional relationships. The COVID-19 pandemic has tested our strength and resiliency. During these challenging times, my family, friends, and I relied on each other for strength and support, and I realized that I would not be able to be in the position that I am in right now without them by my side. The same goes for how ASEAN-Australia has built lasting and robust relationships, from which both entities supported each other during challenging times. Hence, there is power in communities, and lasting relationships are resilient.
I’d like to thank AASYP for arranging such a fun and productive learning experience for all of us. I'd also like to thank my fellow delegates who made the experience really enlightening by sharing their different views on the issues that they care about; it was really fun learning from and alongside all of you.