July 19, 2017

"Being a Global Youth Ambassador brings opportunities to grow, learn and develop new skills"

Ousmane with fellow GYA Taha Fathima Khan live-tweeting at the Education Equity 2030 event in New York last year

Ousmane Ba

Global Youth Ambassador from Sierra Leone

As part of a week celebrating the inspiring work of our Global Youth Ambassadors, we learn how they can use our worldwide campaigns to impact local issues.

As a Global Youth Ambassador, I have gained many skills that figure prominently in shaping my advocacy endeavour. Among them include localising global issues and effectively using social media to impact change.  

Our campaigns are global movements made possible by many incredible people from across the world. But it is the uniqueness of each individual effort that defined those campaigns - from the #UpforSchool campaign, to #SafeSchools and the #5for5 campaign. 

In the beginning, I found some difficulties in articulating my individual ways to contribute to the causes. 

I struggled to spread the word out in very impactful ways. I grappled with methods on how to inject global concerns into local communities. 

But everywhere I went, I got the same question: why should we be concerned about a child dying in Syria when our local communities are plagued with structural problems? 

From that mother, why be concerned about child education in emergencies when my own children are out of school? From that young man, why be concerned about youth violence in Libya when I don't have a job to secure my future? 

These questions were fair and justified and they got me thinking about the meaning of global issues. It soon occurred to me that global issues might not be local concerns but local problems can be global concerns. 

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Right then it struck me that if I am to convey my message to the local communities, I must tailor it to their needs. If I could make that mother understand that the core of our work will get her children back to school, she might yield in her support. 

Thus, for each campaign, I break it down to the community level. I personalise it and find creative ways to involve the local community. 

GYAs Taha Fathima Khan and Ousmane Ba meet Education Commission Youth Panellists in New York

This way, I gained the ability to look at a global phenomenon from a local standpoint. In short, I learned how to localise global concerns. 

In addition, social media is increasingly becoming indispensable. A click of a button can stir a life-changing debate and alter the course of history. 

But how to effectively use it to bring about sustainable change was something I could not figure out - until I promoted the #SafeSchools campaign during the United Nations General Assembly last year. 

Alongside fellow GYA Taha Fathima Khan, I was on the ground reporting live and live-tweeting. 

Live-tweeting and reporting was something new to me and I thought it was an easy go and irrelevant, not knowing that each tweet has the potential to reach world leaders, letting them know that we are listening and watching their every move. 

But when confronted with facts and figures to report immediately, it became a bit of task to do. But I gradually mastered doing it and it is one of the most valuable skills I learned. Nowadays, I live-tweet every important event. 

Serving as a GYA, each experience comes with ample opportunities to grow, learn and develop new skills.    

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