After one year, packed with numerous workshops and projects, lessons on social issues and human trafficking, and an intensive two-month internship at an organization of their choice, the participants of the Border Youth Leadership Training Programme (BYLTP) have graduated! These inspirational youth now have the capacity to work within their own communities to tackle the socio-economic issues they see to be the most urgent.
The big graduation day began with the gathering of the students and their families, as well as the Mekong Youth leaders from Mae Sai and the directing team of DEPDC/GMS, who have all been teachers and mentors to the youth during the program. The assembly of students, family and staff watched a presentation of media projects that the students created during their lessons, using media as a means for social awareness.
Inspirational speeches were then given by DEPDC/GMS’ founder Sompop Jantraka and MYUTC Director Ms. Somporn Khempetch, as well as some of the international volunteers who spent time with the youth during their program. All speeches were full of encouragement for the youth’s potential work after graduating. Finally, each student was given the chance to reflect on their time with the BYLTP. Their families were also given time to speak about the growth they have seen in their child, grandchild, or younger sibling.
Before the official graduation ceremony took place, the international volunteers gave the BYLTP a special goodbye with a performance they had prepared for the occasion. Transforming the famous song “YMCA” by the Village People, they sang and danced to “BYLTP” by the Pathak Village People. It was an emotional day for all involved, especially because many of these youth will be leaving DEPDC/GMS for good, a place where they had spent at least a year of their lives learning and growing into the courageous youth they are today.
The official ceremony concluded with Ajarn Sompop presenting each student with a certificate declaring their completion of the BYLTP. The youth were then blessed by an elder of the community in a Buddhist blessing ceremony, which was followed by blessings from their families and their teachers. It was an emotional ceremony as each youth realized that this was not just the last day of the program, but the beginning of their new lives separate from their peers in the program.
Each youth was chosen to study with the BYLTP because of the great potential that DEPDC/GMS saw in them to become leaders and to make a difference in their communities. The program has given them the knowledge and the tools to create opportunities and spread social awareness.
Everyone at DEPDC/GMS wishes them the best of luck and great success in whatever way they choose to help their communities. Their future starts now!