- Sena Chang, a high school student from Tokyo, joined the 2022 UNITAR Youth Ambassadors Asia Pacific Programme.
- In 2020, she founded a literary platform to pursue her advocacy work and empower fellow youth through journalism.
- In the UNITAR Youth Ambassador Programme, Sena learned how to use technology to bring about change.
- UNITAR Division for Prosperity trains youth ambassadors to develop and practice skills in critical thinking, innovation, entrepreneurship, communication and leadership.
9 February 2023, Hiroshima, Japan – Sixteen-year-old Sena Chang is passionate about youth advocacy for climate change – a passion inspired by the multicultural household in which she grew up. Half Korean and half Japanese, the high school student has lived in Washington DC and Seoul and now lives in Tokyo. The diplomatic and open-minded environment she finds at home is the kind of environment she wants to spread across the globe.
As an advocate, Sena turned to the power of storytelling. She discovered that power as she moved around with her family: in each new school, she realized listening to other people’s stories gave her new ideas and perspectives. She came to see storytelling as a tool to nurture democratic values, which in turn drive activism.
In 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Sena created an online literary platform “The Global Youth Review,” to feature and amplify the stories of marginalized individuals. The platform promotes mutual understanding among young people through storytelling, while fostering freedom of expression and a sense of independence. Users from approximately one hundred countries are currently on the platform, where they can connect, express their perspectives, and find empowerment through one another.
A catalyst for change: Powering up as a UNITAR Youth Ambassador
In 2022, Sena wanted to learn new skills that could take her advocacy further. While browsing online, she read about the UNITAR Youth Ambassador Asia Pacific Programme and became instantly fascinated by the projects presented by the high schoolers in the 2021 round. She was nominated by one of her teachers and joined the 2022 Youth Ambassador Programme.
The UNITAR Youth Ambassador Asia Pacific Programme is a ten-week training opportunity for high school students in the Asia-Pacific region to learn more about Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. The programme zooms in on innovation, global trends in entrepreneurship, leadership, critical thinking and communication.
Sena describes the UNITAR programme as a great learning opportunity and a chance to connect with other passionate youth. She enthusiastically recollects her learnings about technology, invention and ethics in workshops held by Microsoft.
UNITAR opened my worldview on changes you can do through technology.
In the programme, Sena presented a project to develop an app that integrates data crunching and monitoring the health of older people. She believes in digital inclusion and explains that older people may feel left behind in the current technological era. She wants to explore opportunities to launch the app on the Japanese market.
Sena encourages other young people to apply to the Youth Ambassador Programme. She says that it was enriching to learn from experts and fellow youth ambassadors.
Despite cultural differences or political differences, there is so much optimism among youth to mobilize behind global issues and to find solidarity.
Wanting to change the world today
Sparked by discussions with fellow Youth Ambassadors and mentors, Sena is considering expanding the Global Youth Review into a global youth movement – a hybrid platform that combines in-person and online opportunities. The hybrid setup will also help address accessibility issues. Sena is already working with fifteen peers to create workshops, webinars, and content for youths who are interested in learning about advocacy.
“It can be frustrating at times to be sixteen and to want to change the world, knowing that change can take time,” says Sena. Although she wants to devote all her time to advocacy, she also knows that more education will improve her advocacy.
She advises young people to be role models and to dare to advocate, even where they feel out of place.
It’s never too early to too late to advocate for things that matter to you. Use your voice and use it well.
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is a dedicated training arm of the United Nations. In 2021, UNITAR trained 370,139 learners around the world to support their actions for a better future. In addition to our headquarters in Geneva, we have offices in Hiroshima, New York, Bonn and various networks around the world.
One of the eight divisions of UNITAR, the Division for Prosperity, based in the Hiroshima Office and Geneva Headquarters, seeks to shape an inclusive, sustainable and prosperous world. World-class learning and knowledge-sharing services on entrepreneurship, leadership, finance and trade, digital technologies, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are offered. We empower individuals from developing countries – especially women and young people – to address inequalities. Our alumni are making a difference in least-developed countries, countries emerging from conflict, and small-island developing states.
UN Volunteer Karin Andersson contributed to this article.