In Module 4 I have examined those around me and their opinions and experience. This Module has provided great insight. It must be noted that in conducting some of the exercises I have combined responses.
PS: Anyone who can find all the monkeys gets a great big SMILE/HUG!
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
― George Orwell, Animal Farm
My NGO, the Overall Youth Empowerment and Action (OYEA) has done work that spreads across several areas, key amongst there are:
Having examined the Commonwealth values, my personal values, and my project values the area that is of immediate importance is: “Importance of young people in the Commonwealth”
My NGO and the work that we do is geared entirely around encouraging young people to become more involved in their communities. OYEA, through several projects have engaged with causes involving young people, and has ensured that young people were at the forefront of issues such as child abuse, the environment, volunteerism and activism.
OYEA has also been keen on the environment and focusing attention to protecting and preserving the environment. This is most easily demonstrated through our Green Expo 2011. Sustainable Development and moving away from traditional energy sources were also focal points of the Green Expo 2011.
OYEA through partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and our own fundraising efforts have touched on “Access to Health, Education, Food and Shelter”
We have always tried to be inclusive, though in small ways. We have maintained no religious or political affiliations. Our goal has always been to encourage youth to become involved, so while we understand the importance of an individual’s religion we have always tried to promote understanding and equality. As founder of OYEA I have made it clear that no young person is to be judged or discriminated against based on his or her sexual orientation, social class, religious beliefs etc. Those who know me, know “THE LOOK” regarding these issues – I simply do not tolerate disrespect.
In this sense I believe that personally and, in terms of my project, we have touched on:
Some wonderful people who’ve impacted, and continue to impact, my life:
Dad – instilled the importance of social work and contributing to my community/country.
Mum – always ensured that I understood the importance of doing things properly and with a standard in mind. Tolerates me at my best and worst.
Grandma Shiela, Aunt Lisa, Aunt Shazaha & my cousins Brandon and Chelsea – the core of my personal support system. Grandma continuously showered me with love and support. My aunts and cousins continue to be some amazing cheer leaders.
Nadia – my absolute ride or die friend. She’s the one I’ll call to hide the body (jk). This woman has encouraged and support me through the formation of OYEA and in the latter part of my teens. OYEA would not be what it is without her support.
Ian – A great cheerleader and supporter. Adds some fun and dimension to my, otherwise, boring life.
Nikhil – Keeps me grounded and encourages me to think positively (even when I’m being a complete baboon). A truly special and amazing soul.
Vandi & Esty - #SVEN. Some amazing, genuine people, who continue to encourage and support me through everything I do. The real spice of my life!
Mustard Seed Communities - where it all started. An amazing organisation that dictated a major paradigm shift in my life.
Global Changemakers - an organisation of wonderful people who have subtly impacted my life. A network I am extremely honoured to be a part of.
Thank you to these amazing people. SidMonkey wouldn’t be who he is without you guys!
MANY, MANY, MANY others. It’s impossible to acknowledge the many people that have touched my life directly and indirectly. It is important that I state just how grateful I am for the wonderful love and support.
A quick overview and insight into my work.
OYEA works to encourage youth participation in communities. The organisation focuses heavily on volunteerism, community work and the environment. However, due to my personal involvement with several other areas of youth work, I have realised the importance of lobbying for youth to become more involved in the decision making process, whilst ensuring that OYEA maintains its direct community involvement. It must be noted that early on OYEA experienced amazing growth, with approximately 100 members, but that quickly dwindled into a group of, maybe, 10 really active persons. My focus has always been on encouraging quality work as opposed to quantity.
"Encouraging youth engagement in local communities and youth involvement in decision making processes through international collaborations and networking with direct involvement from young people in Trinidad and Tobago."
But WHY You Ask?
Young people form a large part of the world’s population. Therefore, they are largely affected by the decisions taken by community and world leaders. Young people are intelligent, innovative, and capable of making decisions in tandem with the current decision makers. Also, young people can sometimes be unconcerned about the major issues that affect the world, which leads to an overall lack of interest in local and international issues. Hence, it is necessary to direct their attention to such issues.
Oh really? But HOW?
Online discussions and collaboration through established youth networks have been extremely useful in ensuring that the largest cross-section of young people are able to contribute to collaborative sessions. It is also important to encourage youth action, via small community projects, in order to pull young people into an arena that they may not be exposed to.
We are able to facilitate dialogue, which places us in a unique position to lobby established decision makers locally and internationally.
I've tried to create a simple timeline of some major events since I first became properly invested in the work that I do.
It's important to note that my focus has been youth empowerment and encouraging youth involvement in decision making processes. The milestones highlighted have played an integral part in ensuring that I am competent enough to pursue youth empowerment and development, since they have exposed me to real-world scenarios and experiences.
A simple breakdown of the timeline:
The journey continues...
This isn't the type of geography we took in high school. It's definitely more thought provoking, and arguably harder to grasp.
A very interesting look at the factors affecting SIDDEL (whoever that is).
If I'm being honest, this topic took me some time to navigate, so my best advice would be to send an email so we can schedule a telephone conversation.
Let me preface this by making it clear that when I speak about the environment, I limit it to meaning the people who surround me.
When I consider why I am the way I am it is, hands down, as a result of the experiences in my life - largely due to the influences of my parents and my environment. The simplest version of this is that my dad has always exposed my brother and me to social work. We have always witnessed his involvement in the community and as a result have always recognised the importance of giving back and “lending a helping hand”.
If you happened to read my biography (no stress if you didn’t, it’s pretty boring) my academic and professional pursuits rarely tie in with the social work that I do, that is, I do not work professionally in any of the fields that I am involved with socially. This is because I have always seen social work and involvement as a responsibility that must be held in tandem with all the other responsibilities that we must adopt. This is how I’ve been exposed to social work – I’ve only ever witnessed it as an addition to everyday life. Is that the right way? I have no clue, but it seems to work for me. It helps me appreciate life’s everyday responsibilities and social responsibilities as separate and important entities.
One of the biggest driving forces behind my inspiration was my volunteering experience at Mustard Seed Communities (MSC), Jamaica in 2010. Incidentally MSC was founded by my dad’s brother, Msgr. Gregory Ramkissoon – so maybe there’s a little bit of nature/genetics in me being the person that I am, doing the work that I do. It was the experience of dealing with young, differently abled children, who were full of life, smiles, and love that mandated the paradigm shift (away from solely Siddel to that of others). If these kids who faced so much hardship could manage a smile, then why did I ever worry about a mere final year exam or missing a night out with friends?
Jamaica, I’m now realising, seems to be my land of discovery, since my first zip-lining experience there was largely important in forcing me to step out of my comfort zone. Though, I’ve since had many experience that have forced me to step out my comfort zone (QYLP being one of those), my first zip-lining experience will always be that initial eye-opener. Had my brother and mum not enthusiastically encouraged (forced) me to do it I would’ve missed out on a truly exhilarating experience. That got me thinking, at a relatively young age, that I should never be afraid to try something (within reason) at least one – these days I find myself questioning the meaning of “within reason”.
Now that I’ve caught on to the length of this, I’m beginning to worry that it’ll become a long and drawn out blog about me – but I think one other experience that really impacted me was travelling to London alone and surviving it. The independence that I gained from that trip was empowering. It may have also sparked what we locally refer to as “hot foot” for travelling, or an extreme love and desire to travel.
So, is it nature or nurture? I think it is definitely a mix of the two, but I have to say that nurture seems to reign supreme – the experiences I have had, as a result of my family, have really assisted in shaping who I am. There must be some genetics involved, or so I’d like to think. Also, if you know my mum, then she DEFINITELY has had an impact on the organising, cleanliness and order that I love and have come to expect. Now, if we go really in depth we start to consider one of my biggest supporters (they should know who they are), my extended family (aunts and cousins who are always there), a group of wonderful and amazing friends (#SVEN, #SVENandFriends, and the special one or two), the family I built out of founding my NGO, and some amazing mentors – but this would soon become a book, so I’ll stop now.
Final thought before I go - the monkeys are here to stay and they're secretly managing this blog!
I can’t say that I did extensive research on this, but I did review the Charter and asked a couple friends to chime in. It seems that there was general consensus amongst the group of us.
So, what does the Commonwealth mean to me?
Queen Elizabeth II – obviously! What else is there?
On a serious note, and apart from good ‘ole Queenie, the Commonwealth and its meaning to me has never really been something of much consideration – apart from CHOGM 2009 (held in Trinidad and Tobago) and the odd International Relations assignment/reference.
The Commonwealth, it seems, can easily be considered that twice removed, slightly stuffy Great Aunt that everyone sends a Christmas card to because, well, why not?
However, I am a firm believer in the Commonwealth and what it stands for. The mere fact that the Commonwealth represents the unity of several nations with a shared, direct or indirect, history – Queen Lizzie and her minions, represents something that I believe is ever so necessary. I have to agree that it may have begun as “a bad thing, but led to good”.
In the words of a friend, “Like any organization, the Commonwealth is an evolving thing, and though it does need work in several aspects, it's an integral part of the modern world”.
The Commonwealth, to me, represents collaboration between distant relatives, who recognise their shared history and roots, and have attempted to improve. In modern times, it forms the basis for country-country linkages at the diplomatic level, but more importantly at the 'grass-roots' level. A simple example is the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, which connects young people of the Commonwealth, who collaborate to achieve much better things – correcting the wrongs of the past. We must appreciate the importance of such, more so than the very public diplomatic connections. It is the behind-the-scenes collaboration that encourages me to believe in the Commonwealth and what it can achieve.
Which of the Commonwealth values and principles do I hold as most important?
There’s no other choice for me – the Importance of Young People in the Commonwealth. This is because my work surrounds ensuring that young people are recognised as crucial - after all, we are the ones affected by the major decisions. The simple inclusion of young people as one of the 16 Core Values and Principles is a strong and progressive step in the right direction. Young people have a lot to offer (have a look at the QYLP) and are definitely capable of enacting change (again, have a look at the QYLP). We have a voice, and it is the inclusion in such policy that forms the foundation for positive outcomes.
It seems, however, that the goals and principles have played it safe in an attempt to appease the vastly different (but similar) Commonwealth nations – totally understandable. However, I think it’s high time we move away from such appeasing policies toward more action-based policies. A simple example is that fact that there is nothing LGBT+ related that is clearly stated. Yes, it may fall under “other grounds” of the Human Rights principle, but leaders need to be willing to state the problems that exist so that they can be addressed effectively. LGBT+ issues are rampant in the Commonwealth nations, and should have been stated clearly under Human Rights.
All in all, the Commonwealth acts a “positive unifying factor” for the nations involved. It offers a positive platform for collaboration. For Trinidad and Tobago the Commonwealth has seemed to facilitate, however limited, a push toward including and sustaining several aspects of the Charter.
There seems to be the need for further use of the Commonwealth as a platform or tool to facilitate more impactful discussions on issues such as human rights. Also, greater emphasis may need to be placed on ensuring that member states are held accountable for the actions they take after signing the Charter. What are the penalties? How Is the Charter properly enforced?
But, there’s lots of hope when we consider the passion of the young people around the Commonwealth. The important part is that they be given the opportunity to improve an entity that has facilitated interesting work.
Disclaimer: Written light-heartedly. No disrespect meant. Blame it on the monkeys.
I was extremely hesitant to get started on this assignment, largely because I cannot honestly say that my idea of leadership is moulded by any specific quote – I’m not the type of person who remembers quotes (unless it’s for an exam). In writing this, I hope to stay away from Googling “Leadership Quotes” or “Famous Leadership Quote”, but rather to speak about leadership in the ways that I’ve been inspired. Though, I may employ the all-knowing Google to help support my points.
When I think of leadership and the work that I have done I immediately think of a couple instances. Three of these are:
- Adele and the authenticity that she reveals in here interviews and concerts
- The book the “Kite Runner”
- Queen Elizabeth II
Therefore in considering what leadership means to me I will consider the following:
- Repentance, Understanding and Reflection
“In leadership being genuine implies that we are embodying our true selves into our leadership role.”
- Steve Robinson, CEO and Founder, Si Consulting Ltd
“No man is free who is not master of himself”
The underlying notion is that to become a leader or to truly accept and comprehend your capabilities you MUST be authentic. How can we do the work we do without truly understanding ourselves? We must understand our strengths, our weaknesses, and our own situation before we can truly hope to lead or achieve anything through leadership.
”Until you truly know yourself, strengths and weaknesses, know what you want to do and why you want to do it, you cannot succeed in any but the most superficial sense of the word”
– James Kouzes, Barry Posner
For anyone who has seen an Adele concert I encourage you to have a look at her first concert at the Royal Albert Hall – I encourage you to look at her interactions with her audience and her band members. Isn’t it positively refreshing to see a ‘celebrity’ portray herself as a ‘regular’ human being? It definitely is to me. Authenticity allows us to connect to the people around us because we are not portraying an image of what we think we ought to be – we are demonstrating who we actually are. It is only upon realising the need to be authentic that you recognise the people in your life that are meant to support and uplift you. It is only upon realising the need to be authentic that you are able to truly inspire people to lead - themselves and others.
I always remember the first time I read the book “Kite Runner” by author Khaled Hosseini. The most famous quote from the book “For you a thousand times over” always stuck with me. It showed a time when someone who may not have previously noticed had finally understood the importance of another person and their struggles. The simple quote speaks volumes as it highlights the importance of reflection, understanding and repentance.
“The unexamined life is not worth living”
It is only through constant reflection – reflection on your behaviours, your interactions, and your idle mind – that you can truly hope to become a leader. You’ll notice that this ties in with the first point of “authenticity”. We must reflect in order to achieve the authenticity that is so important as we journey to be the best form of ourselves. After all we are really only on a journey of truly trying to express ourselves without condemnation.
“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.”
– H.G. Wells
Adaptation has to be one of the most crucial skills especially in a fast-paced world that’s more connected than ever before. Inspiration is drawn from Queen Elizabeth II due to her ability to maintain the importance of tradition, but recognise the need to adapt and accommodate an informed population. Founding my own NGO helped me to appreciate and understand the significance of sticking to what you believe, but facilitating the opinions of others. Those royally famous pursed lips became far more relatable. Nonetheless, I am of the firm belief that becoming adaptable and understanding that you need to adapt sets the stage for improvement and collaboration, which in turn potentially magnifies the effect of the work being done.
In closing, I would suggest that leadership is not limited to any one ‘special’ person that happens to become recognised. Leadership is available to any person who is able to recognise their authentic self, understand those around them, and adapt in a changing world. Leaders, in my opinion, understand their intrinsic abilities and work with those around them to help them recognise their own value.
PS: We can learn a thing or two from monkeys – playful, mischievous, clever and caring!