The Freedom of Expression Conference (FreeXP.con) is a conference on the youth taking action as learners and advocates for truth, justice, and accountability. Along with other youth leaders, Ysabelle Mendoza and Nerhema Oliva of the International Studies Department, attended the conference last December 2, 2022 with the aim to learn from various speakers and share their insights on the role of youth as advocates.
The conference started with a learning session on “Youth taking action for good governance, public health, and community initiative,” with the speakers Dr. RJ Naguit and Ms. Patricia Non. Both speakers emphasized on prioritizing mental health as we can better help others when we ourselves have good well-being. When asked about their advice to the youth, they both agreed that youth, instead of “being the voice”, should encourage other youths to fight alongside them and speak up because “one voice may change an opinion but many voices singing the same message can change the world.” Ms. Non stands by the saying “magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha batay sa pangangailangan” which was also the essence of the community pantry she established during the pandemic. Further telling her stories and challenges in the initiative, she chose to always see the good in people as she learned that people are victims of the system. In terms of advocacy work, she advised the youth that the most creative initiative is the most personal. Dr. RJ ended the session with passion as he said that “Advocacy work is a constant process of deepening Empathy.”
A learning session on “Youth taking action for Climate Justice” was led by Ms. Jochelle Magracia from Young Bataeños for Environmental Advocacy Network (YBEAN). As she addressed the current issues on climate change, she emphasized that there will be no Climate Justice without Social Justice as the climate crisis is not just about the environment but also about Human Rights.
Other learning sessions include “youth taking action for communicating human rights”; “youth taking action for narrative change-making and social behavioral change”; and “youth taking action for truth and fighting misinformation and disinformation”.
Throughout the event, the audience was able to reflect on topics such as climate change, human rights, good governance, public health, mis/disinformation and many more. Living in today’s modern world, the youth should be stirred with more passion to start and continue serving for the greater good. The IS students have taken another step with this conference to further ignite that passion; hoping to pass that flame onwards to other youth.
By Ysabelle Milyn R. Mendoza