Opportunity. That was the theme for my first year of involvement with the Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute. I always knew that working in a new youth-led organisation would give me the opportunity to gain a variety of experience that a student or young professional would not be able to gain at university or an established company. But I had greatly underestimated just how many different opportunities would AYLI would present not only to me, but to other youth.
Perhaps the biggest opportunities are those that are offered to the delegates themselves, who previously may not have had the means to take up opportunities due to the lack of knowledge on how to get to there. A striking commonality throughout applications was the phrase, “I didn’t even know that this opportunity existed.”To help young New Zealanders follow their passions through to international opportunities, and see them come home with gratitude for the opportunity they just experienced was perhaps my favourite part of my AYLI experience thus far.
A big selling point for me before I joined was the fact that AYLI was created with a dual purpose: to up skill a generation of young leaders, who would then further their development by contributing their knowledge and experience back to a non-profit organisation. The opportunities given to these delegates through training and experience are invaluable, not only for themselves, but also to society. Attending and interacting in conferences with field experts and specialists, and other like-minded people inspire and generate intellectual and personal growth, ideals and characteristics that are valuable in future leaders across all fields.
For myself, I have had the continuous opportunity to develop myself both professionally and personally. By rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck in exciting, new and sometimes challenging situations, my involvement with AYLI ensured that I was constantly learning, and exercising and developing many different skills and knowledge. I was also given the awesome opportunity to see the results; to see inspirations and ideas transform into real and actual projects and events with real and actual people taking part in it was one of the most fulfilling aspects of my involvement with AYLI.
I’m back for a second year, and I look forward to all the exciting new experiences and opportunities that will be inevitably heading AYLI’s way.
Katherine Yip is the Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute's Deputy Director