Onika Stellingburg is a university student leader of One World Youth Project in Guyana, and a third-year student at the University of Guyana pursuing a Bachelors of Science Degree in Environmental Studies.
Written by Onika Stellingburg
Growing up in Guyana, a once isolated country in South America, I never would have envisioned that I could have a conversation with someone else my age 10,000 miles away with the click of a button. And yet, such an opportunity has afforded me some of my most formative experiences in recent years. I’d like to share my story on how I have been interacting with the larger global community through multimedia, and how the process of sharing my story with others through video technology has helped me develop global leadership and social responsibility in our changing world.
Public speaking is an avenue in my life where I am able to express myself through words and in front of the camera. I am extremely proud of where I come from and the blessed experiences I have had in my life. Freedom of speech, although a basic human right, is one which is not afforded to all young females around the world. As a young woman who has the opportunity to do so, I believe that I have been mandated to represent many other females who do not have this chance. I have the responsibility of communicating my experiences throughout my life, in college, at home and my learning moments in such a way that inspires other young girls what they can achieve in this world.
It is extremely meaningful to me to be able to communicate through multimedia, because it makes me appreciate all of the opportunities I am given to tell my story to anyone that is willing to hear it. The coming generations of tomorrow will have a lot of tools at their doorstep to take themselves to some distant place and put themselves at the top of the podium, or in front of the camera, speaking about their own experiences in life. This skill which I have honed through telling my own story to the media will greatly aid the future generations, in believing that they too can achieve greatness and reach for higher mountains.
One World Youth Project, an international education non-profit organization of which I am a student leader, has also facilitated my growth in public speaking and connecting with youth around the world through technology. The OWYP team has given me the opportunity to communicate with peers my age in the U.S., Kosovo, Turkey and Pakistan, as we share our stories, our histories, and things that motivate us in life. Through One World Youth Project’s efforts, several young people around the world will be able to connect with each other; we have been given the distinct opportunity of being our future global leaders in society.
As we listen to the voices of people around the world and interact with them, we get to put a human face to an otherwise unknown population. Videos get more personal, as people begin to open up with each other and new friendships are forged. Their stories serve to help me realize that although I am unique, I am not alone and neither am I an anomaly in this world. Everyday, other youths go through the same challenges and trials like I do, but we all have different ways of dealing with them. Whichever path we choose in life, it will shape our future permanently and impact our lives hopefully for the best.
My story can or the stories of those that I have connected with, can impact me in such a way that it motivates me to action. I am motivated to begin a lifestyle of change because I begin to understand the injustices faced by others like myself, and wish to ensure that their stories can help someone to cope with their own situation or help them to see that there is a way out of any struggle, problem, or mishap that they find themselves a part of.
We can never know the impact our story will have on someone else unless we share it. It is through the sharing of knowledge that we misconceptions, biases, generalizations and stereotypes are dispelled.