This post was written by Ambani Makuya, an AFS student from South Africa on exchange in the Philippines. Ambani is one of the young deserving students who received the 2017 Investing in Africa’s Future Leaders scholarship to participate in a year-long school exchange program with AFS.

Global Youth Service Day is an annual campaign that celebrates and mobilizes millions of children and youth who improve their communities each day of the year. This year’s event focused on youth-led solutions to real world problems, and I was glad to participate in it together with the volunteers from the local chapter of AFS Philippines.

Ambani Makuya

Our activities focused on inspiring young people in Dapitan City to lead healthy lifestyles and be active in sports. Sport is important for me because it not only keeps one healthy but it also teaches one how to work in a team, how to co-exist with other people and finally it also gives a chance for one to learn more about other people and in the process, they will learn more about themselves too.

We also took part in the parade organized by Dapitan City which teaches young people to be creative and self-confident. The parade is also a great opportunity for intercultural learning because young people can show why they are proud of being Filipino and encourage others to improve their communities and to be positive.

This event for me was more than just celebrating the youth’s efforts on solving real world problems, it was an eye-opener because it made me realize that no effort is too small of an effort to make a change.

Ambani Makuya

The young people who were present at the two events that we attended were really excited about getting to meet me, a teenager from South Africa. They were very curious and most of them were really shy to speak in English but I told them that I wouldn’t laugh at them and that it’s okay to make mistakes. After that they were more confident when speaking to me and I am happy I got to share a bit of my culture with them.