Editor’s Note: This article was first published on the Global Solutions Initiative website blog. It has been republished here with the author’s permission.
Empowerment is an essential component of individual wellbeing, but also of the wellbeing of societies, according to the Global Solutions Recoupling Dashboard, a new tool for measuring wellbeing beyond traditional economic approaches. Alexandra Kodjabachi, a Young Global Changer from Lebanon is working towards empowering young people through education.
While aware that there are significant global development challenges, Alexandra is optimistic that today’s youth can – and should – play a prominent role in helping to overcome them. “Knowing that there are people from Costa Rica to Liberia to Tasmania actively impacting their communities and beyond gives me back hope in what we can build together,” she confidently states.
Having been selected as a 2017 Young Global Changer, her passion is to empower other young people to be who they are and all they can become. She does this by helping them tap into their own potential in order to embrace their authentic self, develop 21st century skills and identify opportunities to unleash their ideas and power. “Wherever I looked around me, I’d find young minds full of potential yet clueless about the value that they can bring and unsure of what they can and want to do,” she notes.
Wanting to continue promoting and inspiring change amongst young people, Alexandra was motivated to establish PersEd, a training, coaching and consultancy enterprise guiding personal education, professional growth and lifelong learning. Cultivating the power of “network thinking” and “network doing,” it empowers young minds to get ready for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
Initiatives like PersEd aim at strengthening ‘Agency’ in young people. Agency describes the ability of people to influence their own fate through their own efforts, which according to the Recoupling Dashboard is one of the key indicators of any society’s wellbeing.
Establishing her own social enterprise
Founded in Lebanon in 2016, PersEd provides experiences for learning and inspiration by bringing young people together and helping to “connect the dots.” Activities offered include the organisation as well as facilitation of experiential and holistic workshops based on non-formal education techniques (such as dance, simulation and games), the creation of masterminds that build upon the collective intelligence of small youth community venues for guided growth, the offering of individualised one-on-one and group coaching sessions with young students and professionals for clear goal setting and, last but not least, the delivery of motivational speeches.
While proud of her achievements to date, and aware of her desire to empower and support increased numbers of young people, Alexandra is conscious of her journey to get to this point and the hard work required.
A lifelong process of self-reflection and learning
Her learning process has been both international and multidimensional. Part of this journey has seen her receive training from Hasso Plattner Institut School of Design coaches while in Berlin for the inaugural Global Solutions Summit in 2017, explore Deloitte’s innovation process in Singapore and undertake a two year leadership program with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Other avenues of learning have included extensive reading, independent research, interviews with others and ongoing self-analysis.
Ultimately, “amazing initiatives” can only be built on and strengthened if they are known about to begin with,” says Alexandra. This should not just be a process of learning about such initiatives “randomly through a quick conversation at a conference, but globally and with a depth that will allow changemakers to know more about it and engage with it for further collaborations.” Being aware of innovative programs, initiatives and networks “driven towards sustainability” can be the inspiration “for more young entrepreneurial minds to join this global movement of positive changemaking.”
Building further on her views, she believes being aware is not enough. Having “ongoing conversations” and “exchanging thoughts” are essential for facilitating connections and partnerships, breaking down barriers and proceeding forward in a systematic way. “We need to find end-goals inspired by similarity and complementarity where parties can contribute to each other’s objectives in clusters of mutual support and/or combine their strengths to coordinate at a larger scale.”
Alexandra and her team are continuously expanding their outreach and activities outside Lebanon. For example, one of PersEd’s most recent projects, Better Me 2020, collaborated with ambassadors from seven countries across four continents, and surveyed youth from all over the world through social media to know what skills they need and want to learn. They gathered more than 16,700 interactions, leading up to the selection – by the youth – of top five skills (creativity, self-awareness, public speaking, self-discipline and sleep management) that will be tackled through fun and practical online learning experiences.
Important too, is building off the work of other established and engaged youth networks such as the World Youth Forum network who Alexandra was invited to speak at in late 2019, and the Young Global Changers alumni network. “By starting a borderless conversation” we help reinvent existing models and systems and “build bridges between theory and practice, between what needs to be done to successfully shift paradigms and [determine] what each [person or organisation] is willing to do to make that happen.”
Ultimately, her call to action is “Whoever you are – young professional, university student, innovator in education, human resource manager, thinker, futurist [and/or] entrepreneur – we would love to start a borderless conversation. Let’s help each other. Let’s work together. Let’s change the world together.”