by Owen Muzambi and Kabelo Mahlase
Coming out of the 2014 Brightest Young Minds (BYM) summit, there were two apparent things; 1) we were all overflowing with the inspiration to make an impact in our society and 2) this inspiration had to be shared.
Guest speaker Siya Xuza’s zealous speech at the 2014 BYM gala dinner, which focused on his journey from humble beginnings, and Adv Thulisile Madonsela’s encouraging speech liberated us to believe that we all have a gift that is of value to not just ourselves, but to humanity as well.
Based on this inspiration, we shared a number of conversations until we decided to experiment on a project that would inspire and make that much needed impact in our society: a project that, for now, we call BYM inspired.
BYM inspired can be best described as a platform that connects BYM alumni with learners and the youth that desperately need inspiration. The grim reality of many South African youth today is that they remain refugees of structural and economic systems. As a result, they are challenged to stretch themselves to gain access to opportunities like the BYM summit.
In light of this situation, BYM inspired proposes to repackage the BYM experience and deliver it to the majority of youth who would otherwise not have a chance to experience the magic of a BYM summit.
Using social media and technology like Google Hangout as a bridge connecting BYM alumni with the youth, BYM alumni will have a chance to share their BYM experience and life lessons to a youth on a personal level. One of the things that makes this an exciting initiative is that interested BYM alumni will not be required to make costly travel arrangements nor clear their schedule for large portions of their day.
The late Dr Maya Angelou once said that she would like us to internalise a statement by the ancient Roman playwright Terence that said “I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me.” Through understanding how some of the BYM alumni dared to be bigger than their relatable conditions, the youth will be able to understand that they too can make the same stretch for the better.
This encourages them to use their energy constructively to become the great young individuals that they have the potential of becoming.
In addition to this peer-support system, BYM alumni will provide advice in areas like business, career and personal growth, as well as providing guidance on utilizing opportunities like scholarships, leadership opportunities and social upliftment initiatives. This provides the youth with access to opportunity while giving them the courage and strength to bring hope to and strengthen their family and community networks.
The pilot program was conducted in Tembisa High School, just a week after the summit, using Google Hangouts video call. Kabelo was able to share his life experiences and give career guidance to a couple of students on a one-on-one basis. The experiment was successful and left the students with a thirst for success, an affirmation of how important they are in this world and an understanding of the kind of hard work and faith needed to be prepared for moments of opportunity.
This opened up conversations with additional 2014 BYM alumni who were aware of the experiment, which include Richard Burman, Nonnina Maranjana, Mpho Sefo, Nirvana Marini, Emma Dicks, Nikita Vala, Angel Banchaa and Zama Thusi. The conversations were aimed at finding better ways of orchestrating a more meaningful and impactful experience for the youth whose future is affected by the fact that they haven’t and might not be as fortunate as BYM alumni. The conversations are ongoing and more BYM alumni are expected to join.
In the same way that the BYM summit kicked-off and accelerated the process of positive, impactful thinking in the 2014 BYM delegates, the BYM alumni would like to extend the same opportunity to others, especially the youth.
Ideas for the future that have been put forth already include BYM campus: a large scale online inspiration platform, and BYM africa: a similar platform designed to inspire other bright minds across the continent. However, for now, it is one learner at a time.
“It is only by believing in roses that you get them to bloom”. Perhaps all we need is a group of inspired BYMers to believe in the South African youth to get them to bloom.
If you have a success story, career advice or are interested in retelling your BYM experience, please contact
Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kabelo at email@example.com and they will link you with a young mind that’s thirsty for your inspiration.