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UJ student Moma Molabe heads to Thailand after winning Humanitarian Affairs Competition


University of Johannesburg (UJ) Strategic Communication student Moma Molabe reflects on winning the University Scholars Leadership Symposium (USLS) competition. This competition was focused on creating socially meaningful projects that address climate change, poverty, and inequality. Moma’s essay focused on the issue of unemployment in South Africa and ways to create job opportunities through utilising remote jobs and exploring space science and rocket exploration.

By: Moma Molabe

The University Scholars Leadership Symposium (USLS), is Humanitarian Affairs Asia’s signature program, and a competition that I entered with great eagerness and a burning desire to inspire students and youth to believe in their dreams of being the next generation to shape the future. My goal was to address the social and economic challenges faced by my home country, South Africa, and find ways to bring about positive change and contribute towards solving issues such as unemployment.

The competition entry: Focusing on unemployment and technology

The topic of my competition entry focused on unemployment and strategies to create job opportunities, as well as the changing landscape of the world with a focus on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and technology. I emphasised the potential of utilising remote jobs that are being advertised, and how South Africa could compete in space science and rocket exploration.

Furthermore, I highlighted the support of the United States of America and other developing countries in creating a deep space ground station, which could pave the way for South Africa to make significant advancements in this field. It is a considered view that South Africa has the potential to create its own national space administration centre (NASA).

Goals of the program: Empowering young leaders to create socially meaningful projects

The competition is taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, and the program is aimed to foster the initiative and capacity of young leaders to create socially meaningful projects that address climate change, poverty, and inequality. The collaboration of United Nations agencies and partner government departments empowered delegates like me to start up projects that contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

As part of the competition requirements, we were asked to write a 1000-word essay on how South African youth can contribute to bringing about positive social change in their local communities, South Africa, and the world. I poured my heart and soul into the essay, outlining innovative ideas and practical solutions to tackle unemployment and drive socio-economic progress in my country.

During the competition, I knew I was competing with powerful like-minded students who are competitive from the Faculty of Humanities who shared their own unique perspectives and ideas. The exchange of my thoughts and insights was enriching and further fuelled my determination to make a meaningful impact in my community and beyond.

Winning the competition: Feeling immense pride and honour

I am overjoyed and ecstatic to receive the news that I had been selected as the winner of the competition. It is a moment of immense pride and honour, knowing that my efforts and ideas have been recognised. The prospect of traveling to Thailand for the program, which will be taking place from August 1st to August 4th, filled me with excitement and anticipation.

As I prepare for my journey to Thailand, I feel a sense of purpose and responsibility. I am eager to learn from other like-minded individuals, engage in meaningful discussions, and further refine my ideas on how to address the social and economic challenges faced by my country. I am determined to make the most of this opportunity and amplify towards shaping a brighter future for South Africa and the world.

Gratitude to supporters and selection committee

In conclusion, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to UJ Associate Professor in Strategic Communications, Professor Corne Meintjes, and Lecturer Ms Seriane Morapeli, for their support and encouragement. They shared their own experiences and challenges and helped me to develop my leadership and problem-solving skills. Their insights into the industry were particularly helpful in my preparation for the competition. I would also like to thank the members of the selection committee who were tirelessly evaluating hundreds of submissions that were presented to them for adjudication.


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