Imparting kindness in future leaders

Empowering the future: Choi (left) and another participant during the virtual conference.

PETALING JAYA: The Star’s #StandTogether Kindness Leaders are among the passionate youngsters from across South-East Asia who took part in Unicef’s first regional Kindness Leaders Conference.

The virtual conference, joined by students from 10 South-East Asian countries, was held to empower the younger generation with kindness and empathetic leadership skills.

“Empathy may seem like a simple concept but I’ve learned that many problems can be talked through and resolved with it.

“I want to create a more meaningful and peaceful future through the Kindness Leaders movement, ” said Malaysian participant Roshni Sivanaesan, 16.

Me Me Zin Oo, 24, from Myanmar, hoped to learn more to prepare herself to become a kindness mentor in the future.

“Kindness and empathy are part of my personal philosophy and by joining this conference I am hoping to learn more about empathy and how I can be a kindness mentor for others, ” she said.

Participants are expected to run their own programmes to spread kindness and empathy in their own countries.

“I am eager to hear about the ideas of other leaders in making the world a safer and better place, so that I may be able to implement them in my home country as well.

“Every word and action you take for someone who is struggling will not only determine their motivation in studying but also their future, ” said Christian Lagac, 19, a participant from the Philippines.

Unicef Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar said empowering youngsters with kindness and empathy would have positive effects in all areas of life.

“We need empathy and kindness to be imparted everywhere, at home or at school so we can solve any conflict.

“If we understand each other, we can even save a country from war. If our leaders understand and have empathy they won’t attack another country, especially if they understand how difficult life will be after that war.

“You are the future leaders, policymakers, the ones who will be making decisions. School thinkers, district officers, department leaders, please stand in others’ shoes and understand how your decision will affect other people. That is what we call empathy, ” he told the participants during the first day of the three-day conference.

Other speakers include Unicef Regional Ambassador for East Asia and Pacific Siwon Choi and Maya Soetoro-Ng, co-founder of Ceeds of Peace.

This conference is part of Unicef’s campaign aimed at ending violence against children in schools.

The campaign seeks to change the public perception that kindness is a sign of weakness, especially in leadership.

The Kindness Leaders Conference builds upon the Kindness Workshops, funded by Unicef Malaysia as part of the #StandTogether campaign by R.AGE and SP Setia.

Founded in 2017 to curb violence, bullying and intolerance in schools, the campaign gained support from stakeholders including Unicef Malaysia, Digi and the Education Ministry.

It has won numerous accolades, including gold awards at the 2019 Asian Digital Media Award in Hong Kong and the 2018 World Digital Media Award in Glasgow.

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