Revolving around the theme of how the youth today integrate and cope in new normal setting, the Association of Southeast and East Asian Catholic Colleges and Universities (ASEACCU) hosted the ASEACCU Youth Webinar-Fellowship, with the theme “Youth’s Copeability and Engagement in the New Normal Towards Pandemic Recovery”, on August 10, 2022 via Zoom, in an event hosted by the University of Santo Tomas. The gathering brought together speakers from different walks of life to share their stories and advocacies.
In his message, Rector Very Rev. Richard G. Ang, O.P., PhD and ASSEACU President noted that the youth’s sense of empathy and solidarity with each other aided them against the psychological effects of seclusion and the weight of their burden.
Moreover, fr. Ang lauded the youth for keeping their passion aflamed that illuminates even in the darkest moments. “Their resourcefulness and creativity enabled them to meet their objectives using the latest tools of technology, coupled with their attitude of optimism for the future,” he said.
“In the face of crisis, hope pushed us to move forward with our day-to-day lives, choosing to focus on the positive aspects of the situation,” he added.
Converting food mindfulness into a reward in a snap
In his experience, China-based youth leader Mr. Jichen Liu himself witnessed people around him leave leftovers to waste—a boon to those who have nothing to eat. Moreover, food wastage also leads to greenhouse emissions that harm the environment. This scenario led him to found the Clear Plate App in October 2018 as a his personal solution to assuage the harmful effects of food wastage to the environment.
“After meal, users can take photos of their plate through this app, and once the image is recognized by AI (artificial intelligence) as ‘No food waste’, they will get points, then they can use these points to redeem gifts, or make donations to charity meals,” Liu said. “So just by one tiny move, after a meal, users will get both material and spiritual rewards from saving food. And the food saved can be turned into charity meals for people in need,” he added.
To date, according to Liu, there are around 9 million Clear Plate App users. “Our mission is to inspire and to empower everyone to take actions against food waste through this app and our movement. We hope to start a new trend among people, especially the younger generation to cherish food and develop a habit of low-carbon lifestyle,” Liu said.
Heeding to the call to help each other
Streets to Schools founder and UST BS Nursing student Mr. Qjiel Giuliano Mikhl Z. Mariano shared to his fellow youth leaders that it does not need to be big and extraordinary when it comes to serving the people. Rather, it is about being an ordinary person who can perform extraordinary things in their own simple ways, even in small platforms. “There is so much hope [for what can be] done even as young as we are, that we as young people can contribute to something bigger despite our limitations and small platforms we have,” Mariano said.
An advocate of using religion as a call to action for sustainable development and meaningful youth participation, Mariano recalled Christ’s sacrifices, giving up His divinity to join His people in their plight for their betterment. “That is something we are call to do so: to use this religion not as to serve only the Catholics, but to serve everyone in need–be it the indigenous people in the mountains, be it people living inside cemeteries, be it people [in the Muslim community, or Buddhists]. Everyone deserves our help because it is our calling to help each other,” he said.
Armed with the knowledge to address at-risk children, Mariano has expanded the reach of Streets to Schools across the 17 regions in the Philippines, now servicing around 50 thousand children.
He is a keen advocate of education for sustainable development and the International Telecommunication union’s #ConnectTheUnconnected campaign, which led him to be recognized all over the world. Apart from his recognitions, he advocated for using religion as a call to action for sustainable development and meaningful youth participation.
Fight VUCA with VUCA
Global Director for Sales Excellence of Ortho Clinical Diagnostics Mr. Ban Joseph Ang, RPh, MBA gave some pointers on how to combat the “Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous” (VUCA) world using the same letters.
According to Ang, to counter volatility, one must have a “Vision” to chart his/her goal and to know the importance of taking small and precise steps. “Don’t just be focused on the flashes of shortcuts on how to get to your goals, it is very important to really put in the work, [to] really focus on each 1% percent (progress) because in the 1% incremental [steps], there is a lot of growing that you will gain,” Ang said.
He also underscores the importance of “Understanding” to combat uncertainty. “It is also very important for you to look at your skillset and identify the gaps, because these gaps [are] definitely here for you to thrive. You have to bridge those gaps,” he said, underscoring the importance of honing one’s own skillset, as well as collaborating with other people to help identify areas that need improvement.
The seasoned business and thought leader also told the youths to have “Courage” to step beyond their comfort zone to grow and to discover their potentials. “Working outside of your comfort zone, that is where you will really grow because growth happens in that area. Growth happens when things are difficult for you, such that the last couple of years this VUCA environment we are in really have presented a lot of growth opportunities,” he said.
Lastly, Ang said one’s ability to “Adapt” can overcome ambiguity in the ever-shifting landscape. “We should also be able to anticipate changes. We know that the only constant thing is change, so it is important for us to go through with it,” he said. “When we go through changes, we are changing not because we need to on that particular moment, but because we want to.” he added.
Apart from his role in Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Ang is responsible for the deployment and monitoring of global and regional commercial go-to-market strategies through partnering with regional commercial leadership teams in North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and China.
Catholic faith as an antidote
Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines and the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Most Rev. Charles John Brown, D.D. used the Covid-19 pandemic as a sign or an image of humanity’s spiritual illness and despair, which can be overcome through Catholic faith. “The Catholic faith is an ecosystem of health, healing and recovery on a spiritual level primarily,” Brown said, underscoring that the physical, mental, and spiritual health are tethered to each other.
For Brown, the Covid-19 pandemic is a kind of communal contagion, where the Catholic faith and through God’s grace people can find communal healing, communal recovery, communal restoration. “That is why it is important for us to live the Catholic faith: to live it mentally by understanding our faith; to live it physically by receiving the sacraments; and living it spiritually by living in what we call classically, a state of grace which is a state of healing.” he said.
The webinar also served as a space for the speakers and participants to share their experiences, as well as heeding to the call to suit up as advocates of human ideals, universal principles, and shared values that can help shape the world in the new normal setting.