The eighth youth summit held from 25-28 July in Thimphu offered youth from various dzongkhags and a cross-section of occupations, a platform to discuss and exchange views on issues of national interest like democracy and effecting change in society.
Around 80 youth from Trashigang, Zhemgang, Sherubtse College, and College of Natural Resources among others took part in the summit chiefly to discuss the role of youth in democracy.
Themed “youth as change makers”, the summit had the young citizens deliberating on issues that affected them deeply in the context of a democratic setting.
Karma Yangki from Rangjung Central School, Trashigang felt that the summit prodded youth to discover themselves with regard to current issues and how they can contribute to society.
The class-XII student said that the summit was interesting because she heard different views and perspectives from other youngsters.
“I am taking back my experiences from here. I really want to share all the things I have learned with my friends back home,” she added.
Jigme Lhendup, currently pursuing Bachelors of Sustainable Development at College of Natural Resources came to know about the summit through his friend and decided to participate.
Apart from meeting and accepting different people and learning about youth issues, he met and interacted with leaders from civil society.
“What I have learned is how young people can play a big part or role in decision making. All we need is inspiration. And this is exactly what the summit did,” said Jigme Lhendup.
For Sangay Dorji Wangchuk from Phuentsholing Higher Secondary School, the experience was “wonderful” as he summed it up.
The 16-year-old said it was easily one of the best camps he had ever attended. “It led to a lot of self-reflection and learning how to make a difference,” he said adding that now he knew bigger changes most often start small.
Bhutan Center for Media and Democracy (BCMD)conducted the program with support from UNICEF Bhutan and Civil Society in Action (CISU) to help youth develop their own ideas and action plans to improve their communities through exchange of views and ideas.
According to the BCMD press release, the summit will encourage the young participants to come up with solutions to local issues that communities face and encourage them to take action to address these issues within their own sphere of influence.
In order to facilitate students from the schools, BCMD trained over 12 people from diverse occupations. This group of facilitators guided the youth groups in the summit.
At the end of the summit, some of the action plans formulated were selected for implementation. BCMD and CISU will fund these plans.
Pema Seldon from Thimphu