The 2021 Global Youth Trends Forum, an international youth event organized by the Youth Development Administration, Ministry of Education, was held in Taipei on November 13. Youths from 28 countries across five continents gathered at the event, and more young participants from around the world joined online. Together, they exchanged views on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the younger generation.
The primary theme of this year’s event was “Global Partnership—The Impact of COVID-19 on Global Youth”. In-depth discussions were held on education and learning, social innovation and employment, mental health, and other youth related topics. Eminent speakers, including Digital Minister Audrey Tang and Professor Benson Yeh of National Taiwan University, were invited to serve as panelists and discuss the challenges and opportunities brought by the pandemic.
Chen Hsuch-Yu, Director General of the Youth Development Administration, offered her encouragement to youths around the world. She believed the trials of COVID-19 would ultimately enhance the strength of young people. Youths worldwide will be able to better understand global trends through the forum and will undoubtedly be able to create new opportunities after the pandemic abates.
Minister Tang first shared the three key principles of Taiwan's effective pandemic control—fast, fair, and fun. The public sector’s collaboration with g0v to build prevention measures and keep the pandemic in check. To help businesses hit by the pandemic, Small and Medium Enterprise Administration, MOEA, worked with the private sector to Launch “Buying Power: A Chosen Future Project”. The government also introduced the NT$5000 Quintuple Stimulus Vouchers to boost the economy. In the combat against false information, the government turned to Internet memes with a Shiba Inu to promote pandemic prevention information.
Professor Yeh is a very experienced educator. He was the first recipient of Taiwan’s prestigious Presidential Innovation Award to win for innovation in education. He has also been recognized by the Wharton-QS Stars Reimagine Education Awards, the top international prize for pedagogical innovators. Yeh shared the workshops and online teaching group that he has organized to help more than 100,000 teachers to switch to online teaching. The group manifests the power of private partnership and collective intelligence. Yeh also addressed the pandemic’s impact on careers and that digital intelligence quotient （DQ） will be essential in the future.
Magdalena Basić, Director of Operations of the World Youth Alliance Europe, who holds a master’s degree in psychology, has led many round table discussions on youth unemployment and mental health, young European leadership conferences, and European art forums. She pointed out that Eurostat’s statistics have shown that approximately 17% of European citizens had mental health disorders. The pandemic has hit women harder than men when it came to mental health. To combat this trend, the World Youth Alliance has launched a variety of online courses and events to encourage young people to contribute to their communities. She also encouraged everyone to save time for themselves for reflection and to voice their worries in a way that is comfortable for them.
In addition to speeches from experts and scholars from different fields and parts of the world, the forum also invited the hosts of the Morning Taiwan Glocal News podcast, Catherine and Howard, to serve as moderators. They guided young people from around the world to share the current state of the pandemic in their home countries as well as the challenges the pandemic has brought to local youth. Dang Tai Dieu, a Vietnamese student in Taiwan, shared how well Vietnam was able to control the pandemic but another wave just broke out recently. He talked about the government’s official platform for youths to register as volunteers in Vietnam, and as the result, thousands of youths travelled from southern Vietnam to northern Vietnam to help those affected. Jonathon Andrew Tree from Australia talked about how the pandemic has forced youths to miss milestones in their lives, isolated them from the society and disrupted their studies as they had to generate income for their families. However, the digital services and online platforms that resulted from these challenges have created more connections and served as communication channels between the Australian people.
Thanks to the discussions and exchanges at the forum, many new ideas and perspectives were raised, and youths from around the world gained a better understanding of each other in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. By facing the challenges of the future together, young people can inject vitality into their societies and bring more opportunities to the world. For more information, please see the official Global Youth Trends Forum website （iyouth.youthhub.tw/gytf2021） and Facebook page （fb.com/globalyouthtrendsforum）.