(Catherine Wang is the volunteer youth writer for the Royal Commonwealth Society Vancouver Island branch. This article first appeared in their October 2020 e-circular. Please visit their page to learn how to subscribe.)

Hello everyone, and welcome to my “Commonwealth Corner”! My name is Catherine, and I live in the lovely city of Vancouver. I’m a student currently working towards completing my Gold Award in the Duke of Edinburgh Programme. As part of my award journey, I will be writing monthly articles highlighting different ways youth contribute to the Commonwealth. I’m ecstatic to be volunteering with RCS V.I.!

Being a youth in our modern society, I’m always searching for new ways to get involved,whether it’s in my local community or even internationally. Connecting with the Commonwealth and RCS V.I., especially through the Circular, has opened up a world of opportunity for me as an active citizen; since I’ve been inspired by my experiences, I want to share this advantage with other passionate students who are looking to inspire change.

So, what is the Commonwealth Advantage?

Canada, being a member of the Commonwealth, has access to certain benefits that come with being part of an international community. The continued collaboration between these nations has driven incredible progress all across the globe. Being part of a network also creates many new opportunities– as future world leaders and innovators,the Commonwealth looks to invest in its youth members.

For starters, amplifying the youth voices in global concerns is a priority for the Commonwealth. By including young leaders in important decisions, our generation can offer new perspectives on current issues and help shape a better, sustainable future. As well, there are numerous ways to get started in the world of diplomacy. Model CHOGM (much like Model UN) allows students to simulate the experience of a real meeting, fostering public speaking skills, communication and constructive cooperation. Opportunities also arise for students to travel, write, and advocate for change, fostering passionate and connected youth.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has currently forced us to adapt our old routines, making it difficult to participate in these events. However, even though we are distanced, there are still ways to stay engaged!

On September 17, I attended a webinar as part of the Commonwealth Action Series, a virtual seminar series designed to create a space for youth to share their thoughts and concerns with each other regarding current events. Each episode of the series focuses on one of the five CHOGM pillars, encouraging young leaders to create proposals to present to Commonwealth leaders at CHOGM. The topic for this particular webinar was Technology and Innovation. I got to hear from current professionals from different countries in various industries, as they discussed areas requiring innovation and strategies for improving the lives of others. Emphasis was placed on the role of youth in innovation, gender equality and our evolving climate.

Upcoming themes in the series include Youth Development, Governance and Sustainability. You can also watch recordings of previous episodes, should they interest you.

In these unprecedented times, it’s important that we play an active role in shaping our future for the better. I encourage you to take a moment to listen and have your voice be heard!

For more information about the Commonwealth Action Series, including registration, click here.