Raleigh Asia Regional Conference 2018: Societies come together to plan for the future

1st November 2018
Alumni societies at the Raleigh Asia Regional Conference

This October, Raleigh China hosted the annual Raleigh Asia Regional Conference in Shanghai. Here, former Raleigh volunteer and Youth Advisory Group member Jaskirat Mann writes about her experience at the conference.

The Raleigh Asia Regional Conference (RARC) has been running for more than a decade and is a fantastic international platform for Raleigh International’s ever-growing global family. Raleigh national societies from across Asia come together, with guests from Bermuda and the UK, and share their achievements in 2018 and plans for the future.

Raleigh national societies really showcase the charity’s global legacy. Established by former Raleigh volunteers, from both Expedition and ICS, each is unique and made up of passionate alumni from across the years who continue to give their time to create change within their home communities.

There are currently fifteen active Raleigh national societies around the world, with eight of them in Asia. The kind of activities they deliver, and their scale, varies greatly, but all societies seek to uphold Raleigh’s vision of developing young people and creating sustainable change.

 

For example, Raleigh China run their own expedition programmes, with seventeen ‘stations’ across China, while the Singapore and Nepal societies have run successful projects and activities centred on tackling waste and protecting the environment. Conference guests Raleigh Bermuda also run a very successful year-long programme that sees ten Bermudians take part in a full Raleigh Expedition.

This year’s RARC coincided with Raleigh China’s 10th anniversary. The event served as both a conference and a chance to celebrate the continuing successes and development of Raleigh China. Introducing the conference, Garrison Lu, who volunteered on Expedition 98G in China, went on to co-found Raleigh China and, until very recently, served as its CEO, said that his societies’ 10th anniversary “really marks the journey” of Raleigh as a charity and is a testament to “all the efforts our volunteers across the globe put in to that journey”.

 

The RARC itself is a fantastic opportunity for national society members to share and learn about what other societies are doing and why. It facilitates knowledge and practice sharing, networking and the opportunity to find out how we can support one another. For example, Raleigh Hong Kong shared their successes and learning from engaging government and communities in planting trees and getting them to understand that collective effort was needed to maintain this environmental work.

A workshop was also held to discuss how to run national society-led campaigns on issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The workshop was an opportunity to find out which issues Raleigh alumni are passionate about and each society was asked to design a campaign that they may want to implement. Raleigh Kuala Lumpur, one of two societies making up Raleigh Malaysia, shared a campaign they hoped to work on concerning land rights of their aboriginal population.

 

A new cross-society project, Exchange for Campaigns, Empowerment, and Leadership (ExCEL), was also introduced to attendees. ExCEL involves fourteen Raleigh alumni from national societies in Nepal, Nicaragua and Tanzania, who are taking part in an exchange programme to learn how to design and implement youth-led campaigns. They are spending time training together in Norway, Tanzania and Nepal before going their separate ways to implement environmental campaigns in their home countries in 2019. It is hoped that this could serve as a model for future Raleigh campaigns.

For the national societies, this discussion saw people really reflecting on what they cared about and what issues affected their environments and young people at home. For representatives from the UK, the session meant we were able to better understand the prevalent issues in each country while identifying commonalities between them so that Raleigh can support these campaigns at the international level. While national societies are very much their own organisations, which continue to develop and thrive, through the global alliance Raleigh hope to create a global movement of action in support of the SDGs.

 

As a representative of Raleigh’s UK alumni, it was truly inspiring for me to meet so many international alumni, from as early as the 1980s, all of whom are committed to Raleigh’s vision. I personally learnt a lot about the work being done elsewhere and the issues other societies care about. The RARC was a first-hand demonstration of the passion and potential of Raleigh’s alumni in continuing to work with young people to make an impact.

I have come away feeling even more inspired and excited about the future of Raleigh’s alumni network and how we can collaborate internationally. Regardless of where you are from and where you have been, what Raleigh programme you have participated in and when, we are all connected by the same values, experiences and the commitment to making a positive contribution to the world around us. We are all ultimately one big family.

Jaskirat volunteered with Raleigh ICS in Tanzania during 2017. She is a member of Raleigh’s global Youth Advisory Group and co-Chair of the Alumni Advisory Board, representing UK alumni.

If you would like to join the UK Alumni Advisory Board we are currently recruiting, please apply here.

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