by Layan Al-Braik, Ambassador to the 2024 AFS Youth Assembly

In the dynamic landscape of global citizenship, the concept of youth potential often dominates discussions. We commend the virtues of our young generation, praising their creativity, intelligence, and ambition. Yet amongst the honors and festivities, there remains a critical question: what truly sets apart those who merely possess potential from those who actively shape the world around them?

Being involved in youth- focused activities, I’ve grappled with this question extensively. Through my experiences, I’ve come to understand that potential, while significant, is merely a starting point. It’s the action that transforms potential into tangible impact, and it’s the call of action that ignites the spark of change within us.

Conferences and workshops serve as invaluable platforms for knowledge exchange and networking. They offer opportunities for young minds to absorb ideas, connect with like- minded individuals, and envision a better future. However, it’s what happens beyond the confines of these events that truly matters. It’s the individuals who take the lessons learned and translate them into meaningful action who leave a lasting impression.

I’ve often found myself reflecting on the disparity between what people say about empowering youth and what actually happens when youth get involved. We attend these gatherings, listen to inspiring speeches, and participate in thought- provoking discussions. Yet, all too often, we fail to follow through on our commitments or implement the solutions we’ve discussed.

Recently, I had the privilege of engaging in a deeply meaningful conversation that reignited my belief in the power of action. A question was asked to articulate what sets deserving youth apart from the rest. My response emphasized the importance of implementation—the ability to transform ideas into action and to demonstrate tangible progress.

Essentially, it is not enough to simply possess knowledge or attend numerous conferences. True empowerment lies in the ability to apply that knowledge, to create real-world change, and to inspire others to do the same. It’s about turning inspiration into action and recognizing that our collective impact extends far beyond the confines of our individual efforts.

As I reflect on my journey, I’m reminded of the immense potential that lies within each of us. Our actions, no matter how small, have the power to spread across the globe, leaving a lasting imprint on the world around us. It’s a responsibility that we must embrace wholeheartedly, knowing that our contributions, however simple they may seem, are essential to our shared humanity.

Moving forward, let us commit ourselves to embodying the spirit of action and empowerment in everything we do. Let us seize every opportunity to make a difference , knowing that our efforts, no matter how humble, have the potential to shape the future for generations to come. Together, let us harness the power of youth to create a world that is more just, equitable, and compassionate for all.