Cu Khanh Linh, an 11-year-old student at Duc Tri secondary school, is always full of ideas and energy. She was the master of ceremonies at the youth consultation event organized by UNICEF and Da Nang Youth Union on COVID-19 impacts in late October this year. Last year, she represented Nguyen Khuyen primary school as one of the city exemplary students.
When informed by her school about the pre-meeting workshop and the consultation event hosted by UNICEF and Da Nang Youth Union, Linh was thrilled. “I have never been to similar events before so I was excited and proud to be invited as one of the three youth representatives from Hai Chau District. At the pre-meeting workshop on 25 October, I made a lot of new friends. I was in the discussion group about the impacts of COVID-19 on education. It was real fun. Other older youth were supportive and helped us a lot in better articulating our viewpoints.”
Linh shared with the group about her encounter with negative advertising content after downloading an online learning software for her class. Throughout the pre-meeting session, Linh was always coming up with new ideas and actively contributing to the group. She also volunteered to be a presenter for her team to share suggestions to city leaders to tackle the impacts of COVID-19 on student learning.
“I love giving presentations, so I had fun representing my group and our ideas.”
Being an active contributor, Linh was also diligently taking note of other peers’ ideas.
“I really like the idea of an innovative platform that integrates learning and healthy entertainment for adolescents after rigorous online class sessions. For example, to make learning English more fun, we could design a game similar to Duolingo that allows students to accumulate points, awards and crowns and have individual rankings. So, if we could build such a platform to help reinforce student knowledge while helping them relax and have breaks between virtual classroom periods, it’d be great.”
Linh shared that she really enjoyed the format of the pre-meeting workshop in which youth collaborated together to brainstorm and explore ideas freely and creatively.
“Other discussion groups also come up with many interesting ideas and creative visuals. I was particularly impressed with the discussion group on the topic of heath. It’d be even more fun if the event could include a little contest and prizes for different discussion teams to compete with one another.”
When the consultation event with youth on the impacts of COVID-19 took place on 27 October, Linh led the opening as the master of ceremonies. She was only informed about the task the night before so she quickly rehearsed for her role while managing her school and extra classes workload.
“I was so excited to be the emcee for the event. I feel honored to have the opportunity to interact with the city leaders and share my opinions. At first, I thought it was already great to be able to exchange ideas with other peers. I didn’t expects that we could actually have dialogues with policymakers. I wish we
could have more similar events in the future.”
Besides doing a fantastic job as the event MC, Linh was also an enthusiastic participant. She engaged in a discussion with representative from the Department of Education and Training about the issue of potential malware in TRANS, the educational software widely used and downloaded by Da Nang students.
“When the city leaders responded, I made sure to listen to them attentively. Even when their certain viewpoints clash with mine, I still continue to take note and analyze what rings true and what might not. Even though I was a little nervous but I told myself that I got this. I got to speak my mind.”
Linh wishes that there could have been more time for youth to share their opinions and she recommended more social activities for youth to interact with one another.
“We have a lot of ideas to offer. The workshop has untangled many questions and concerns. So future events could prolong the Q&A or dialogue session. I’d also like to have more opportunities to make friends and socialize with other youth participants.”
At the launch of the situation analysis of children and adolescents in Da Nang together with celebration of the World Children’s Day at the City Administrative Building on 17 November, Linh was also one of the attendees. It was her first time inside the building and she had the opportunity to interact with Ms. Rana Flowers, UNICEF representative in Vietnam.
“I was thrilled to meet a lot of people and the leaders. I also received a lot of gifts. I only knew a little English, so I was quite anxious when I met Ms. Rana Flowers. But there was an interpreter, so it turned out to be a fun experience. Ms. Flowers was warm and witty. And she asked us what the first thing we would do if we were to become leaders. I told her that I would like to help girls who are at-risk victims of violence and abuse and support poor children to have the opportunity to go to school.”
Linh spoke with enthusiasm about her willingness to participate in and help disseminate about the Healthy Cities for Adolescents initiative.
“I hope children and adolescents in Da Nang will have clean air to breathe and social vices like violence, sexual abuse and kidnapping would decrease. We also have to pay attention to the mental health of child victims of violence and abuse even after they got rescued.”
A girl with a lot of interests and dreams, Linh loves to travel. She nurtures a dream to explore and uncover hidden historical places and unveil mysteries that mankind is yet to discover. Linh looks forward to joining more future UNICEF events,such as an annual gathering to reflect on what has been done for children in the past year and a social gathering for children. She also hopes more creative workshops similar to the pre-meeting on 25 October would continue to be organized.
“I felt so happy when a number of our city attractions were lit up in blue on 17 November and the following days. That shows how much the city cares about children like us. I hope in the near future, Da Nang will become a friendly city for children and adolescents and disadvantaged children will receive the care and support they need.”