May 31, 2018

"It was inspiring to interact with world leaders who connect with young people"

Maisha Reza addresses the Commonwealth Youth Forum 2018 in London

Photo credit: CHOGM

Maisha Reza

Global Youth Ambassador from Singapore

Global Youth Ambassador Maisha Reza looks back with pride on her experience at the Commonwealth Youth Forum in London.

The Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF) took place last month and it was my greatest honour as the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA) to be the compere of the opening ceremony and to share the stage and panel with outstanding young leaders of today. 

I had the privilege of introducing:

  • Kishva Ambigapathy, the outgoing chair of the CYC
  • Anna Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council
  • Jayathma Wickramanyake, UN-Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth 
  • Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, an outstanding lady who truly inspires me every day
  • Prince Harry

The forum hosted an exciting panel of distinguished speakers including Bill Gates, Baroness Scotland, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness. 

It was such a delight to hear inspiring world leaders address global issues on a common platform - a platform of hope and positivity.

Meeting UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at the Commonwealth Big Lunch and Andrew Holness and his wife, MP Juliet Holness, at the Jamaican embassy was a wonderful opportunity to discuss pertinent issues affecting young people.

It is always inspiring to interact with leaders who connect with young people at a grassroots level. I look up to these leaders. 

Prince Harry and UK Prime Minister Theresa May at the Commonwealth Youth Forum

Photo credit: CHOGM

During the forum one model in particular stood out to me - that of Jamaica, where the youth leaders I met are working passionately to propel youth voices forward nationally and internationally with the full support of their nation’s leaders. 

One of the moments of pride for me during the forum was when my CSA team wore our network shirts with the CSA logo proudly embroidered on them. 

On the same day we were given an opportunity to connect with students and young people across the Commonwealth. We engaged with them on issues that they are concerned about and how CSA can play a role in helping to amplify their voices and empower them with the skills to have a unified student voice, so that we can all become partners in delivering education goals. 

We shared with students and young people our report on the status of student governance across the Commonwealth and the CSA Toolkit that we developed to develop and strengthen NSOs. After all, the future belongs to us.

Also, signing the Memorandum of Understanding with CYC, AISEC and You and I was a step forward in building partnerships to deliver our goals together, sharing our resources, expertise and best practices. 

On behalf of the youth forum I had the privilege of representing young people’s voices and recommendations at the Foreign Ministers Meeting, chaired by the Boris Johnson. 

I was given the opportunity to speak on BBC UK and BBC World, interviewed by one of my favourite news anchors, Lucy Hockings, outside Buckingham Palace during the opening ceremony. 

It was indeed a true honour to be representing the youth forum and the young people across the Commonwealth. 

We are a global children's charity committed to ending the global education crisis and unleashing the potential of the next generation.

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