© UNICEF/China/2017/Xia Yong
UNICEF Special Advocate for Education Wang Yuan joins the students in a social and emotional learning class discussion at a child-friendly school in Sanjiang, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, in September 2017. Wang Yuan made his first visit to the Child-Friendly Schools programme, jointly supported by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education in the remote rural communities in China, at the start of the new school semester.
I am Wang Yuan. This is my second opportunity to participate in the Youth Forum at United Nations Headquarters. It has been a privilege to listen to the perspectives and ideas from other young people and to be part of the discussion with experts and youth delegates from all over the world. I was nervous the first time I was here and am still quite nervous today, but I hope to learn more from others and to show the best of the youth in China. Being here again for the Economic and Social Council Youth Forum, I have gained a deeper understanding of what this event means to us as young people. People are paying more attention to the youth and they are encouraging us to play a bigger role in innovation and through actions. The strength and energy of youth and our role in promoting sustainable development represents huge potential for the future, which should not be ignored.
The overall theme of this forum is “the role of youth in building sustainable and resilient urban and rural communities.” We have discussed the core issues from different perspectives. I also participated in the thematic breakout session on SDG 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all and learned that youth play a critical in pushing the process to achieve water and sanitation for all — including raising their voice at such key moments as World Water Day and World Toilet Day. By participating in these events, I could listen to different points of view, as well as many constructive plans and suggestions from other delegates, which gave me lots of ideas and helped me to understand the various issues.
I am also here in my role as UNICEF Special Advocate for Education. I did many interesting things with UNICEF in 2017 from which I gained a greater understanding about the importance of quality education. I met students at a child-friendly school – I studied, worked, attended PE lessons and had meals with them. Having visited the place where they learn and live, I could sense the happiness in their hearts. I realized that good education will boost their confidence and their ability to adapt. They will not only make progress in their studies, but will also improve their skills to live and work in the future. So, I am committed to be part of the effort to raise people’s awareness about education.
I also know that UNICEF is involved in a special cause: the impact of disasters on children and youth. In 2008, there was a devastating earthquake not far from my home, which affected the lives of many children and adolescents. I was only eight years old and it was the first time I experienced the destructive force of an earthquake. I was shocked by the dreadful impact that this disaster had on the lives of children. Events like these can shake up the lives of children and the youth around the world. UNICEF works hard to create Child Friendly Spaces: a safe haven where children affected by crises can learn, play and simply be children again.
I hope we can all contribute through action so that we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and create a better world for everyone.
Wang Yuan, also known as Roy Wang is UNICEF Special Advocate for Education, a Chinese singer-songwriter and actor.