The Qatar Youth Power Conference, the first and only student-initiated conference in Qatar aiming to empower the youth of Qatar to positively impact their communities through learning from Qatar’s brightest change-makers was entirely put together by 7 teenage high-schoolers: Natalie Magness (the Founder), Amal Elcharbini, Sebastian Santoni, Xiangtong Liu, Kayana Elmaadi, Aanya Srivastava and Johanna Karen Sarsonas.
Today, we sat down with this phenomenal group of students for the inside story on how they organized the nation’s largest youth empowerment conference.
Natalie Magness, Founder of the QYP Conference and 17-year-old studying at Doha British School, says that her inspiration for kickstarting this initiative was the urgent need for youth to be a beacon of change. “Everyday, all around the world, tragedies, injustices and crimes against humanity occur. Reading about these events in the news and media easily makes one feel that nothing they do could make any significant difference. But nothing could be further from the truth. Youth hold so much potential to be powerful drivers of change. And the best thing is, you don’t need to hold a certain position, have years of experience, have high-profile connections or lots of money. All you need is a passion. Whether that be fighting for the fairer treatment of women, the climate crisis, or combating bullying in your local community. All of us, especially the youth, can and should take action.”
“By attending this conference we hope that young individuals gain the motivation and confidence they need, by listening to the words of wisdom of the young influential people we have invited, to start the powerful change we were born to do. We are equipped with the technology and resources all we need is to gain the knowledge and utilize this knowledge for the betterment of the world.” says Aanya Srivastava, a 16-year-old student from Park House English School.
When asked why students should attend this event, Kayana Elmaadi, a 17-year-old studying at Taylor’s College Malaysia and former student of Qatar International School says “This is a great opportunity to learn something new about activism, pollution and pressing world issues through a plethora of educated speakers! All delivered with the approach of youth empowerment and involvement.”
Reflecting on how this initiative is unique, Xiangtong Liu, a 16-year-old studying at Doha College says “The QYP Conference believes that even in such a special time of a global pandemic, we as the youth can still strive for change and reform, can still take initiative and action to create an impact in our communities. And QYP has worked to promote this through its unique goal of connecting the youth of Qatar with the change-makers of Qatar.”
Notable guests who will be speaking at the event include Mr. Khalifa Al Haroon (Mr. Q), Mr. Hamad Al Amari (The Qatari Guy) and many more incredible personalities. Furthermore, the QYP Conference is proudly partnered with Maker Majlis and their Official Digital Media Partner is I Love Qatar. Their other partners are Qatar Medical Students’ Association (QMSA), Students Qatar, Greener Future and Doha Environmental Actions Project Qatar (DEAP).
However, as one can imagine, pulling off something of this scale is no walk in the park. Johanna Sarsonas, an 18-year-old student at Newton International Academy says “Organising this conference was definitely tough. There was some added pressure considering that the Executive Team itself was composed of talented people and are well-known in their respective highschool careers. But I feel that, as a whole team, we really learned how to find each other’s strengths and use that to really make this conference successful. We learned how to trust the team and trust each other and of course, how to use filters on Zoom whenever we had weekly meetings. We learnt friendship and camaraderie, and it began with organising this conference.”
Sebastian Santoni, an 18-year-old student at the International School of London says “Organizing the QYP conference proved to be a great challenge. Collaborating online with people who may have never met each other led to some inevitable miscommunications and misunderstandings. Through being polite to one another and remaining focused on our tasks, we swiftly addressed these issues and our bond grew over the course of the planning process. Even though we spent most of our time apart, the conference would not have been possible without our hearts and minds being on the same page.”
Looking to the future of the QYP Conference, Amal Elcharbini, a 17-year-old student at Dukhan English School, says “I want the future to be a yearly conference that allows the youth to develop their skills and realize they can have a voice. I’d also like to see it branch out to have a more focused conference in future, towards women and strengthening female youth, to make this a two time yearly conference. Hopefully, once the pandemic is over, it’ll be in real life rather than online.”
Please find further information on their website: https://qypconference.wordpress.com/