SWYing in Bahrain

SWYAA Bahrain  invited SWYers to participate in The First Global Youth Festival for SDGs 2018 in the Kingdom of Bahrain from October 20th to 26th. Sareema Husain from SWY 29’s Canadian delegation was selected alongside Matika Lauzon, and this is her account of it.

If I am to speak of my first visit to the Middle East, where do I begin? Do I tell you of the brilliance of the colossal mosques, their pointed tops paramounting the skyline? Or the grittiness of the desert and towering skyscrapers that were planted in the thick of it. The pastel colors –cashmeres, gold and off whites- provided a calming backdrop to the jutting signs of industrialization. Bahrain is a country comprised of 30 islands in the Arabian Gulf. Many of these islands are manmade which explains the empty square plots of land that lay in between the fancy hotels, lounges and cafes.

 

 

We visit the Isa Cultural Center and the Al Fateh Grand Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world. It is strikingly huge, with a big open square in the middle surrounded by pillars made from Bahraini limestone. We don traditional abaya’s and thobe’s and follow the tour guide as he educates us about the long-standing history of the place. Built in 1987, the mosques carpet is from Ireland, the crystal chandelier from Austria, the carved doors from India and the glass globes from France. We stand underneath the central dome, the largest fiberglass dome in the world. “This is where we make all the bombs” he jokes. His humor is refreshing. As we are leaving, I spot a dusty cloud rushing to us in the horizon. In awe, I stand and stare at it; it’s rare I see clouds move so fast. Suddenly, I’m covering my eyes with my scarf and grinning at the novelty. I’ve been caught in my first sand storm!

The conference itself had insightful speakers brought in from all over the world. A blind man named Simon Wheatcroft sharing how technology has enabled him to run marathons without the use of a guide. A hacker named Jamie Woodruff tells us how we can all obtain free iPads with a little bit of trickery.  Gender equality, the changing face of the cyber age, and artificial intelligence-these were a few of the timely subjects the conference speakers elaborated on.

 

Lili Gil Valletta, cofounder of Cultural Intel, made me think about the impact of the language we use

Most importantly, the speakers reaffirmed what us SWYers know to be true. In terms of development, “it takes someone with a cultural perspective to bring up the tough questions”. How you interpret the world is how your brain is trained to see it. I was reminded how SWY primed us to act in a global sense, armored with the realization that cross pollination breeds creativity. SWY was a space that welcomed diversity and implemented in us ways to hold multiple views of reality and appreciate alternative value systems. It was humbling to remember that this beautiful structure we created could inspire us to demand for trust, accountability and transparency in larger institutions.

However, such pretty words aren’t applicable to all. During the Q&A session, a young girl raised the question: “What if my society does not allow me to live my truths?”.  One speaker encouraged her to build communities, pockets of resilience that could eventually forefront change. Another said to focus on changing systems instead of biased minds.

Visiting the fort was a highlight for me. Little did I expect this to be beside a high end shopping mall

Walking around the Manama shopping district

Sleepy SWYers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being from Pakistan, I had imagined the streets in Bahrain would be filled with food stalls, children scurrying underneath them and thick city musk filling the air. But apart from the harbors and markets, the streets were empty. I later realized that sidewalks were few; Bahrain was not very pedestrian friendly as a majority of Bahraini’s drive. In 2006, Bahrain was labeled as the fastest growing economy in the Arab World and today, students are primarily educated in banking, finance, science and technology. Moreso, I met more female engineers in one week in Bahrain than I have in my entire life. When asked if they were the outliers in a male dominated field, they said no. Women in Bahrain are highly educated, as Bahrain was the first gulf state to have education for women in 1920.

During the nights, a festival took place outside the stadium with various stalls where you could explore Virtual Reality, observe youth innovators SDG related inventions, or grab some food and relax on beanbags by the stage, immersed in Traditional Bahraini folk music. Every night had its sparkle. One night, I joined the bicycle tour and rode steadfast into the desert, a soothing momentary escape from the bustling festivities. Another night, SWYAA Bahrain took us to enjoy a traditional Bahraini meal. Indulged by the warmth of Bahraini hospitality, we sipped Karak chai as we exchanged SWY stories and ruminations of Japan.

The last night, we clambered onto a mini bus at 4a.m. and drove to The Tree of Life to catch the sunrise. The Tree of Life or Shajarat-al-Hayat is a 9.75 metres high Prosopis cineraria tree that is over 400 years old. 92% of Bahrain is Arabian desert yet the tree has miraculously managed to survive despite extreme temperatures and lack of fresh water or nutrients. A security guard watches over it at all hours, making sure no loiterers climb onto it and break the sacred branches. As we were making the drive to this cultural artifact transformed tourist attraction, the desert was barren but speckles of civilization ebbed and shined in the distance. Hammer like structures toiled into the earth; some of these oil fields were on fire and I mistakenly thought their eruptive glows were the sun rising more than once. The scenery felt almost dystopic; it was no coincidence that us SWYers on the bus were discussing who would die first in a zombie apocalypse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That last night felt surreal, courtesy of the lack of sleep and desolate landscape. We lined up and took pictures as the sun rose up and claimed its spot in the pink cotton candy sky. On a beautiful island in the Persian Gulf, I was incredibly lucky to experience a sliver of SWY all over again. It happened so quickly; they told us of our acceptance a week before the festival and suddenly, I was staying up late in a 5-star hotel room trading candies and having experiences doused in culture alongside fellow SWYers I’d never met before but felt like family. It goes without saying, but I am incredibly grateful to SWYAA Bahrain for all hard work they put into enabling SWYers to attend this festival and making sure we had a memorable experience. Bahrain; your loving generosity and delicious hummus will not be forgotten!

Unofficial Announcement for 31st Ship for World Youth Leaders Program 2019 #SWY31Participating countries:‬

Unofficial Announcement for 31st Ship for World Youth Leaders Program 2019 #SWY31

Participating countries:‬

#Japan 🇯🇵
#Australia 🇦🇺
#Chile 🇨🇱
#Ecuador 🇪🇨
#Greece 🇬🇷
#Solomon Islands 🇸🇧
#Sweden 🇸🇪
#Turkey 🇹🇷
#Tanzania 🇹🇿
#UAE 🇦🇪
#Vanuatu 🇻🇺

*Please wait for official announcement in corresponding countries. Follow news from Japanese Embassies and stay in touch with Alumni Associations to know about details.

**More details to be announced in the future.

SWYAA Winter Clothing Donation Campaign

In many countries around the world, too many people often lack basic clothing. This challenge is amplified particularly during the winter months.

We hope to engage as many of the SWY Alumni and Associations as possible to take part in the Winter Clothing Campaign.

Our main objective is to gather and donate winter clothing items to a worthy organization of your choice that is responsible for spreading them through to
[1] the most needly regions of the city; and
[2] homeless people in highly urbanized areas.

The type of clothing gathered and donated will depend on the local needs of the engaging SWYAA: winter clothes for the countries where winters are present, and regular clothes for those where they are not.
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Building on SWYAA Brazil’s project this past June, we are aiming to collect clothing items over the holidays in December and formally making the donation on January 18th – SWY International Day.

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How it works:

1) Join the Facebook event called “SWYAA Winter Clothing Donation Campaign” and connect with your SWYAA.
2) Gather as many (winter) clothes as you can within the schedule, paying attention to your hemisphere’s dates. Call family and friends to help you with this project! 🙂
3) Focus on donating to a worthy organization of your choice.
4) On International SWY Day post a picture to social media with hashtags: #SWYAAWCDC#SWYAA+engaging country, #SWY+edition of engaging members
5) Enjoy the connection with other Ex-PYs, work as a team and make a difference in your country.
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Examples of organizations you can donate to in Montreal:

CAPSS – Comité d’Action des Personnes Sans Statut

Jeunesse au Soleil / Sun Youth 

This project emerged from the joint action of SWYAA Brazil and SWYAA Canada. However, the spirit of this project is to be extended to all SWYAA around the globe.
Facebook event cover by Gabriela Rau (https://www.behance.net/gabirau) and Ítalo Silva

Humans of SWY

Follow Humans of SWY son Instagram – an initiative of SWY 29 Ex-JPY Yuki Yamamoto.

https://www.instagram.com/humansofswy

 

Here’s a taste:

“I’ve spent my whole life sort of in this limbo where on the one hand I really resented being indigenous because my mother’s Inuk but my father’s not; he’s white. As a kid, a lot of Inuit would bully me and say you’re not allowed to speak Inuktitut, that’s our language it’s not yours. Now I look back and I think wow that’s stupid but it really affected me as a kid and it’s one of the reasons that I did lose a lot of my Inuktitut. I grew to be afraid to speak it because I knew if I spoke it these kids would beat me up. And even in my house it was really hard for me to communicate because I felt like I was never Inuk enough for my family. They always saw me more as white than anything else. That really made it hard for me to form relationships with my family. But then I guess around 15 I was sort of like “that’s really stupid” because I have this amazing culture and these people, my people, have been so oppressed for so long, why would I push that on us even more? My mother’s always been very proud and very active in the Inuit community and I remember spending months on the land camping and learning how to hunt and fish and all these really traditional things that a lot of people are losing now. When my parents separated I didn’t go out on the land as much to practice these traditions and that’s when I realized just how much it had shaped me and how important it is to allow this culture to grow and continue shaping everyone else.”

A post shared by Humans of SWY (@humansofswy) on

11th Global Assembly to take place in UAE

The Global Assembly aims to foster cultural understanding, enhance communication skills among diverse cultures and create an international platform for youth to promote cross-cultural cooperation and understanding allowing those youth to develop common perspectives about many of the pressing issues that require innovative solutions, in addition to highlighting the UAE government’s role in supporting and empowering youth. The Global Assembly participants are ex-participants of Ship for World Youth Programme.

The 12th Global Assembly will take place in Tonga.

http://swyuae.ae/

Source: http://wam.ae/en/details/1395302643936

 

SWY29 Testimonial – Henry Tsang

If world peace existed, what would it look like? I’ve seen it with my own eyes: Buyo dancers, Bollywood dancers, Lakalaka dancers and Hip-Hop dancers dance to each other’s rhythms. Sumo wrestlers, capoeira fighters and ninjas practice each other’s art. Maori, Inuit and Ryukyuan sing each other’s folk songs. Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists revere each other’s values. Canadians, Ukrainians, Costa Ricans, Indians, Fijians, New Zealanders, Egyptians, Kenyans, Brazilians, Tongans and Japanese speak each other’s languages. We were 11 countries, 240 young world leaders on a voyage to 4 countries for 45 days, with one mission, to better the world. A brief glimpse of the perfect world, where no walls divide us, but one ship unite us: this was my SWY experience.

By Henry Tsang

A look back at SWY 29: Selected photos

A look back at SWY 29: Selected photos

Happy Pride Month Saskatoon! 

Thank you OUTSaskatoon and the USSU Pride Centre for supporting a Pride Space during SWY 29. Young global leaders from 11 countries came together to share experiences and learn tools to create safe spaces in their own communities. Building a more loving and accepting world, one step at a time.

Happy Pride Month Saskatoon!
Stephanie Shyluk

Participating countries for SWY 30 (2018) announced

The participating countries for the 30th edition of the SWY program, which will happen in 2018 between January 17th and March 4, have been announced! They are:

Australia, India, Mexico, Mozambique, Oman, Peru, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka and of course Japan!

2017 SWY Canada Pre-Departure Training and Farewell Reception

2017 SWY Canada Pre-Departure Training and Farewell Reception

From the 12-16th January 2017, the official Canadian Delegation for the 2017 Ship for World Youth (SWY) Global Leaders program were in action in Toronto for a training and team-building session before departing to Japan! The packed program included various sessions on SWY protocol, Japanese language and culture and of course, National Presentation rehearsals as well as a farewell reception organized at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. Ex-PYs mingled with the new delegation and shared their wisdom from past batches. The training wrapped up with team-building activities at the hostel.