Art by Rard Almario
In the book Brief Answers to the Big Questions, Stephen Hawking writes: “I hope that going forward, even when I am no longer here, people with power can show creativity, courage and leadership. Let them rise to the challenge of the sustainable development goals and act, not out of self-interest, but of common interest.” I think about how 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, the protesters in the US fighting for the Green New Deal, and Youth Strike for Climate PH and all the local activists got the motivation to take action. I figured that it must all start from somewhere. Some have passion coursing within them, while others cultivate theirs in a nurturing environment where they are free to propose ideas through trial and error.
One such organization is the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s Youth Tourism Professional Student Membership Program. To the uninitiated, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a non-profit membership organization that promotes sustainable tourism through developing programs in the Asia Pacific Region. They currently have 800 members, including 95 government tourism bodies and over a hundred business organizations in the airline and hospitality industries. The Youth Tourism Professional Student Membership Program, led by their ambassador J.C. Wong, is a good incubator for programs that can educate the public as well as propose solutions to private sectors.
As the 20-something youth ambassador, J.C. manages 4,000 PATA Young Tourism Professionals (YTPs), 75 educational institutions, 25 PATA student chapters, 35 local chapters and events in the pacific region. She organized events and initiatives such as The Youth and Sustainable Tourism Workshop and Buffet for Youth, which calls for creative ideas on how to reduce food waste.