I was in Berlin a year ago with a huge network of friends attending a fascinating meeting with Barack Obama at Town Hall Europe. The news spread from Finland to Uzbekistan through numerous articles in the printed and online Uzbek media.
Now, John D. Rockefeller once said, “Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing.”
So, here it goes. Here are just some of the things that happened in the year after that meeting that would create such lasting connection, significance, and impact:
- I’ve grown bolder at facilitating change, both locally in Finland and in Uzbekistan. My chosen leadership formula is to Inspire-Create-Demand change.
- I’ve run a half-marathon in historical Samarkand to support inclusion.
- I’ve recognized and promoted the potential leaders of tomorrow in my projects and communities, and I continue to do so.
- I’ve helped build communities in Bukhara and Tashkent with Global Dignity Uzbekistan and Global Shapers Tashkent Hub
- I’ve coached hundreds of students through my own Telegram channel and through workshops from Helsinki to Tashkent to Seoul.
- I’ve shaped the next generation of Global Dignity Finland.
- I’ve held true in addressing the deep-seated issues of racism, exclusion, inequality, and gender-based violence.
Being able to grow, develop, and give something back to communities, both locally and internationally, gives me hope for the future. I believe that in the uncertainty of the current coronavirus pandemic, we can remain united and cooperate to find solutions to the world’s problems. It gives me the optimism to share the mindset I acquired through civic engagement practices, where co-creating projects proves the power of collective change and its impact. It also enhances the ownership, belonging, well-being, and legitimacy of any public-private or other non-profit initiatives to help educational institutions. It helps me to shift our collective mindset from an ego-based system to an eco-based one and truly work across the full spectrum of backgrounds and sectors.
Last year, I graduated from Sitralab, an innovative education laboratory in Finland, with 30 other experts in various fields. We learned about the fundamentals of systemic change, how to instill new working cultures and ways to bring experimental focus to not just individual work but also broader policy-making. This first Sitra Lab cohort focused on children and youth social inequality in Finland. (See Experiment on youth inequality: PopSit for more information.)
Sure, I sometimes get as exhausted and angry as anyone else. Right now, people are losing their livelihoods, and entrepreneurs like myself are seeing projects and orders slip away. Economists are predicting the grimmest future scenarios for the people of the world, and this is shifting the focus from diversity, exclusion, and other deep-seated issues.
I am reminded by mentors and colleagues that it takes courage to change social mindsets. I guess it tests our courage tenfold when we face adverse situations, as we do now. With the support of many communities, I choose to continue pressing on. I’m empowered through people every day, and I am thankful for always having access to that source of light, optimism, and gratitude.
Thank you to the European Young Leader and the German Marshall Fund
Thank you to the European Young Leaders (EYL40) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States for their recognition, as well as to my Danish and Finnish community of volunteers, enablers, mentors, event organizers, secondary schools, colleges, and universities for sowing the early seeds of trust.
It’s through that initial trust and cooperation that I am able to instill similar trust in others about the virtue of a lived-through experience of equality. It’s real and true. My mission was, and remains to be, to spread the notion of inclusive leadership through my keynotes, moderation, and projects to drive measurable impact.
So, let’s revive the meaning of community in everything we do! I see this taking the shape of inclusive recruitment practices and workplace cultures to enhance the quality of production and presentation.
Yes, let’s revive the meaning of community, not just because Obama asked us to but because we now see and accept that we need each other to succeed. These exceptional times demonstrate that we can only affect meaningful change together.