I am Alina Ahamed, a current Year 11 student from Hong Kong, and I am the founder of Youth Counselling - a diversified social organization for Gen Z. I was born and raised in Hong Kong but am of Indian descent. 2020 has been a year full of hardships but I believe it was also a year for personal growth and succession. As a normal teen on social media during the lockdown, I suddenly came across a networking post from Generation Impact. From there, my change-making journey started, and my life started becoming more focused on a clear mission and goal: to change the world, make a positive difference in society, and get my name out there amongst several changemakers and global leaders!
Growing up, I faced many challenges. I had difficulties being confident in my ethnicity and appearance because people would discriminate against me. My high school posed a challenging place for me because very few people look like me. I was constantly judged and mistaken. I could never get the chance to show who I was.
I finally decided to take initiative. I transferred schools and sought out more extracurricular opportunities. I suggest everyone take the time to explore their options - in and outside of school. You never know when you may discover a life-changing experience!
Thus, I became a part of several youth-led coalitions about global affairs, ethnic minority rights, education equity, and Artificial Intelligence. These experiences led me to found Youth Counselling, which allowed me and my teammates to dive deeper into activism. It was more than making Instagram posts and story shoutouts. My team - from over 16 countries - became a community, a family, to me.
I started Youth Counseling with one motive - to get like-minded people to unite as one and make a lifelong chain of connections, experience, and impact. Youth Counselling is a diverse organization that doesn’t narrowly focus on one subject but is inclusive of all aspects and interests of Gen Z. Sometimes we talk about psychological theories, quotes, artwork, current events, or mental health, and we’re actively working on developing more initiatives! As part of this process, we recruited members from over 16 countries in just a month, launched a digital card exchange program with Letters to Strangers, and collaborated with different organizations for newsletters and articles, just to name a few highlights.
For anyone beginning their change-making journey or trying to start their own business or organization, I strongly recommend making a comprehensive document listing your mission, the resources required, how many people you need, what departments should there be, and how you want to increase your engagement with your followers. Sticking to this helped me keep my team structured and united! The most important thing is that everyone should be aligned with your mission and not just be there to improve their resume.
In order to lead a team, leadership qualities are very important. My own style is neither authoritative nor complicated. I think leadership is all about trying to understand others, communicating thoroughly, and most importantly practicing empathy. Leaders should always try to understand the needs of others! If there is anything you should take away from this blog post, it’s that leaders should never dictate, but instead, share their knowledge with all their members. People want to gain experience and learn worthwhile lessons from it! And that’s exactly what a leader can accommodate for. Some leaders may think that “if I share my expertise, then they may set up something better than me, so I will keep my secret to myself”. I cannot stress how foolish this thinking can be! People will only enhance your project! This is the biggest advice I can give to anyone out there!
Six months before starting Youth Counseling, I could never have imagined that I would ever immerse myself in activism and entrepreneurship. I was clueless that such businesses or organizations even existed. Now I want to encourage everyone to become respectful, generous risk-takers. If you have a passion and the driving force to succeed, do it. If you have a dream and you have what it takes to fulfill it, absolutely do it. If you ever come across people of different backgrounds, religions, or sexual orientations, be respectful and try to learn from them. If you come across people who need help or are requiring your assistance, undeniably be generous and help them.
I, as a student, as a daughter, as a sister, as a leader, and as a devoted changemaker, am always here to assist you with anything and help you in any circumstance. If you’re interested in getting in touch, please message us on Instagram (@youthcounselling) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love hearing about people’s change-making journeys!
Remember that some elements in life come easily and some elements need the effort to grasp but never feel outweighed by any challenge in your life. Once you overcome that obstacle and unleash its hidden meaning, you can proudly say you have accomplished what it takes to be a successful changemaker.