The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Atiqah Zailani on how the youth can make a difference


On Oct.16, Atiqah Zailani, an International Development and Delivery Consultant, delivered a lecture to a small group of students regarding her field of work and the potential for youth to make a difference in our world.
As an international development and delivery consultant, Ms. Zailani would be employed by an organization. Since there are no lessons or a single guide to being a world leader, governments with newly elected leaders or starting governments would consult these organizations for advice on how to run the nation. Ms. Zailani is one of those advisers.
She has worked with the president of Tanzania and the Kenya Education Commission for the United Nations. She has also worked with the government of the U.S and a national policy-making adviser in Malaysia, her home country.
Yan Ying Mor (‘20) took the initiative to invite her to Taipei American School. Her dad read about Zailani on a platform and decided to email her about her work. The result was a dinner together while Yan Ying and her family were on a trip to Malaysia. Upon discovering that Ms. Zailani will happen to go to Taiwan on a trip to visit a friend, Yan Ying coordinated her visit to TAS after getting approval from the Upper School administration.
In her speech, she spoke about a hierarchy from individual to groups, from groups to government, and from governments to the international bodies. She said her work is in the realm is in the level of intergovernmental organizations.
She mentioned 5 do’s and don’ts in her speech for those who might consider working for the international level organizations.

  1. Try to not differentiate our self with others. It is important to avoid creating a “we” and “them.” Remove the “mind trap” of bias and prejudice when assisting higher level decision making.
  2. Young people can also make a difference. Whenever problems occur do not simply blame it on governments or think that someone else will solve the problem, because you are someone too.
  3. Avoiding imposing one government model on another, it may not always work. It is important to co-create the product so everyone feels a responsibility and motivation to contribute further to the implementation.
  4. Every nation is interconnected, be aware that changes made to one part of the world can greatly influence another. “Be as comprehensive as possible” when dealing with potential cause and effects.
  5. Play the long-term game. Changes usually may not happen within our lifetime, but we should still be aware that changes we initiate may happen eventually, so be patient and don’t give up! Pick an issue you’re passionate about and become an expert at it.

Zailani has done numerous work presenting and giving speeches in the past, but said that this may be the first time she has done so in a school. The election of the 92-year-old Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, Ms. Zailani described, demonstrated a lack of commitment the younger generation have in modern politics.
Addressing this lack of involvement, Ms. Zailani said, “Don’t worry so much about what the older people think about you. Worry about whether you yourself are doing enough. Are you stepping up? Are you feeling that you have contributed to making the kind of place you want to live in? The changes between how we do things and how the old people do things, it’s inevitable, it’s coming, we don’t have to apologize for it.”

Don’t worry so much about what the older people think about you. Worry about whether you yourself are doing enough.

After her speech, she was heading to dinner with a friend of hers and starting her official trip as a tourist in Taiwan. When asked about something unique she discovered in Taipei, she said, “I didn’t realize just how green Taipei is going to be. You’ve got a lot of parks between, the ones I’ve been able to see, which I think is a privilege for city folks. I don’t get that in Malaysia.”
Currently, Ms. Zailani is traveling around the various parts of Taiwan as part of her three-week stay here. As an individual passionate in environmental matters, she believed that Taroko Gorge is a must. Places she plans on visiting include Ali Shan Recreational Forest, Green Island, and Kenting, where “all the beauty is.”

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