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With hope, to the stars.

If there is any path through crisis, it is one led by hope.

The weekend we all shared together, exchanging words for a better future, reminded me how valuable optimism is. Of course, there is a balance to it. Too much positivity invalidates the real difficulty we face; obstacles which are unavoidable, and unfortunately a product of the times. But just recognising that progress is achievable makes working through the difficulties easier. The distance between now and then feels like one between here and the stars. At least we have somewhere we’re heading, together.

Beyond the practical policy experience I’ve gained through the Digital Dialogues, it’s the community we now have that I’m also deeply grateful for. To listen to all your stories, and be a part of your world, has taught me so much. While we cannot travel much yet, just meeting so many different young people from across the region was an eye-opening journey. Thank you so much to everyone who shared their ideas and experiences with me. It was especially lovely to be paired with another Delegate and to learn from each other throughout the Dialogues. Maria, it has been so nice to learn about you and be a part of the Dialogues together! I sincerely hope we can all visit each other in-person one day, but in the meantime I am always so happy to see how everyone is going on social media.

Though the Dialogue weekend is over, I continue to learn and be inspired by this community. I encourage us all to not lose the hope we have for a better future – as we get older, and go through various challenges, it may feel like there is little we can actually improve. But even the smallest progress is another step forward, so please celebrate each moment you find joy and share it with others. This experience has also reiterated the power of empathy and sensitivity. If we stay in our own bubbles, we end up affirming our own opinions for the sake of pride, rather than really seeking nuance and showing openness to being proven wrong. It is admirable to admit that perhaps we have been ignorant, and then to show through actions (not just words) that we’ve learned to be more inclusive. This is so important to making progress that is intersectional, that is sustainable, and that doesn’t just benefit the 1%. The diversity of our region is such a strength, and there is so much potential to harness this through communities like ours.

Thank you to all my fellow Delegates for their time and dedication to the Dialogue — it has been such a gift to hear your perspectives, and create practical recommendations on issues we all expressed great concern for. And a very, very big thank you to the AASYP team for organising, facilitating, and instilling this program. You have given us all the confidence to be leaders in the region, and turn our hopes into real change.

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Over the weekend of 28-29 August, the AASYP brought together a talented and eager group of 60 young leaders and policy makers looking to affect and lead meaningful change in the multilateral dialogue

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