The Emerging Young Leaders Award has be granted to ten outstanding young leaders (ages 16-24) from across the globe.These recipients represent the power of young people to launch grassroots initiatives to improve their communities. These individuals are the future, and they are creating change now. Administered by Legacy International, this program is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State. Learn more
Profiles of the Young Emerging Leaders
Ahmad Shakib Mohsanyar has dedicated himself to making Afghanistan a better place for young people. To counter the narrative that youth need to leave Afghanistan to improve their lives, Shakib founded a social media campaign titled “Afghanistan Needs You.”
In its first seven months, the campaign had 26,500 likes and dozens have put their faces on the page, including youth leaders, singers, athletes and officials, each pledging their dedication to the country and holding a sign saying “Afghanistan needs you.” His efforts have gained him international media coverage. Shakib works as a job placement specialist and serves as president of a professional network that promotes universal education, entrepreneurship and civil society engagement.
Thinzar Shunlei Yi’s focus is on youth development and dialogue. She is the coordinator of Burma’s National Youth Congress and the Yangon Youth Network. In 2014, she helped organize the ASEAN Youth Forum, and held a highly successful UN International Youth Day celebration reaching thousands of young people and raising awareness on mental health issues.
Thinzar is a founder of the diversity campaign #myfriend, and seeks to combat intolerance and extremism in Burma, particularly through the voices of youth. The campaign brought young people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds together online as friends in support of peace and diversity in advance of national elections and garnered significant local and international media attention. She is also an active member of the first-ever Ambassador’s Youth Council at U.S. Embassy Rangoon, which meets monthly to advise the Ambassador on youth perspectives and needs in Burma.
After spending a year as a high school exchange student in the U.S., Basel Almadhoun returned home to Gaza and started a debate club to give youth a space to express their opinions.
He has received wide-spread media attention for his work and has organized TEDx talks in Gaza to bring debate to a wider audience. Basel sees firsthand that people change their way of thinking by participating in debates. Basel is twenty years old and is currently a business student at al-Azhar University in Gaza.
Nino Nanitashvili has dedicated her career to peacebuilding and development through evolving technologies. She founded the first technology-oriented professional community in Georgia, the Google Developer Group, and has organized over four hundred events, meetups, conferences and workshops.
Nino directs a project that brings Georgian and Abkhazian youth together through online games. Now, at the age of twenty-three, Nino is the Head of Communications at the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University. She leads the Women Techmakers Community in Tbilisi, an initiative supported by Google, and serves as a mentor for tech startups and social entrepreneurs in Georgia. She is the chapter co-organizer of Hackernest Georgia and she has spoken on her technology-driven civic initiatives at Google headquarters, the parliament of Georgia, and TEDxYouth Tbilisi.
Jessel Recinos Fernandez grew up in Cofradía, a suburb of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, a city that has been called “the murder capital of the world.” During his adolescence, he turned to gangs and violence and soon became a gunshot victim.
This was a turning point for him and he went on to found Skate Brothers, a club where at-risk youth learn rollerblading, skateboarding, BMX, and breakdancing. The club, run out of an outreach center, gives at-risk youth a safe and positive environment to take classes and have fun while helping them avoid gangs and stay in school.
Zulfirman Rahyantel is a student at Pattimura University, Ambon, a city that has experienced 10 years of inter-religious violence. Zulfirman has initiated much-needed discussions about issues involving grief, resentment and hatred. He has organized community dialogues to encourage mutual respect, open mindedness, and a safe space to communicate.
He was a facilitator for Indonesia Non Violence Study Circles Network (INVSCN). He is junior technical advisor of youth leadership program in Inspiring Development Institute. He is an active member of several influential youth and student organizations.
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