What is a Global Shaper and how did you come to join the community?
Global Shapers is a movement initiated by the World Economic Forum (WEF) when Founder, Professor Klaus Schwab, shared a vision of getting the youth involved in finding solutions to global challenges. In 2011, the Global Shapers Community was set up to bring together dynamic young leaders that provide community-focused impact through sustainable initiatives and collaborations. At that time, I was pursuing my PhD on sustainable development at the University of Cambridge and became familiar with WEF’s initiatives during my research. They saw youth as a catalyst for change, dreamers and people who want to improve the state of the world. Growing up by the sea in Kuantan, Pahang, the environment has always been a passion of mine and I kept myself up to date with global events and the means to contextualise the agendas locally to help the communities in Malaysia. So, I joined the Kuala Lumpur hub soon after my return to Malaysia. Global Shapers Kuala Lumpur (or Global Shapers KL) comprises of a group of dynamic young Malaysians who have great passion in making a difference in the community.
Tell us about the social initiatives by Global Shapers Kuala Lumpur.
At the WEF, there’s a lot of debate and discussion of global issues, and they’ve outlined 17 sustainable development goals based on these challenges. These goals touch on various issues, from poverty and climate change, to education and healthcare. What we do at Global Shapers KL is use these goals as a framework to address local issues. At the moment, we have a few ongoing projects focusing on accessibility of education to underprivileged groups, as well as health and wellbeing.
One of our biggest projects, After 5, is essentially a school camp targeted at underprivileged students who’ve just completed their secondary school education. Through After 5, we want to inspire and empower students by providing them with information of available choices and resources to help them choose the right careers based on their skills and interests. The programme includes personality modules to identify key strengths and weaknesses, and financial management modules to understand the cost of adulthood. The project strives to give them tools to prepare for life after school.
There’s also another issue we’ve identified that seems to fly under everyone’s radar – the elderly. It’s a sad truth but there is a notion that the elderly are burdens that don’t contribute to society’s growth. Thus, we want to provide a platform to bring the elderly and the young together to actually have a dialogue and communicate. In an effort to give the elderly a voice, Global Shapers KL has started the Living Library project, where elderly citizens are basically live “books” on loan, sharing the life experience as an elderly person in 21st-century Malaysia. We gathered youth groups and residents of old folks home and retirement villages, and it was a resounding success. The young participants realised that they’ve never thought of aging as a real issue, while the elderly were pleased with the chance to have their voices heard.
What are your goals as the curator of Global Shapers Kuala Lumpur?
The role of a curator is to oversee the governance of the hub, including the community projects we work on. Personally, it’s about growth both internally and externally. Internally, I want every Shaper to really work on their personal goals. Some of us are still on the journey of self-discovery and, by teaming up with certain coaches to run workshops, I hope they can get in tune with their personal motivations and goals. Externally, I want to scale Global Shapers’ impact by collaborating with existing non-governmental organisations (NGOs). We run many projects but can achieve so much more by partnering with different organisations. Part of my role as the curator of Global Shapers KL is to find opportunities to work with corporations and organisations to upscale our impact on the issues we’re working on.
How can one join the Global Shapers community or lend a hand?
Global Shapers KL welcomes anyone who is interested in doing good. The types of partnerships we leverage are not necessarily monetary in nature, but an exchange of resources, such as locations for our programmes or office space for meetings. We believe that everyone has something to contribute or give back to society in one way or another, and the whole reason we exist here is to be a catalyst of change. That means getting the right groups of people in with the right partners to increase the impact of the projects. Our doors are always open to anyone who wants to work together to make the world a better place.
Find out more about Global Shapers Kuala Lumpur at globalshapers.org.my