Stimulations of diversity

by Nashra Sudario

Faced with the daunting effects of the world’s inevitable disruptive changes, four young leaders take on the challenge of initiating a diversity movement fuelled by their own passions. They were part of the 24 young leaders who joined the World Islamic Economic Forum’s (WIEF) Young Fellows 2017 (YF 2017) which took place in the city of Malacca in Malaysia, on 30th April to 6th May 2017.

Amid all the strife happening all around the world, a group of young fellows decide to take an active stance, projecting a better future in the lenses of their own personal causes and communities. Inspired by a desire to mould a group of socially responsible young leaders from all over the globe, World Islamic Economic Forum’s (WIEF) Young Fellows 2017 (YF 2017) brought together a diverse group of young minds and souls all dedicated to leave positive footprints in their chosen fields and home communities. The event was held in the historical city of Malacca in Malaysia, on 30th April to 6th May 2017.

This year, the week-long leadership empowerment programme, sought to unlock the potential of culture and heritage in Melaka, a historical state in the southern region of Peninsula Malaysia. The programme created a community of leaders that are now on their way towards building stronger ties among their nations as they promote unity across nations. The fellows are now up for something exciting – working on some satellite projects and building a purpose-driven online community that encourages diversity.

Check out what four of them have to say about the role of diversity in promoting unity in their own communities.


Abbas Mohamed
Co-founder, Director, Gathering All Muslim Artists (GAMA), United States 25 years old
Kenyan, Lives in California

How did YF 2017 affect you?
The three themes of integrity, diversity, and dedication were woven like golden threads through the Young Fellows experience. An important insight this programme taught me was: play to your strengths, not your weaknesses.

What are the impacts of diversity?
Diversity enables the world to overcome shortcomings and weaknesses by connecting one another’s strengths and complementing each other.

How did YF 2017’s cultural diversity change your mindset?
The programme changed me in an individualistic and collective way. I’m now mindful about what I eat and raise funds for my organisation.

How can diversity make this world a better place?
I may have been too US-centric, but now I understand the value and potential of having a network of supporters, collaborators, funders from all across the world, a network which WIEF has awarded me with.

And for you?
The programme blessed me with a much wider perspective of the world – the multitude of entrepreneurial ecosystems and the subtle underlying connectedness of it all.


Issaq Ahmed
Academic/recreational facilitator, Foundation for Student Success, Canada 26 years old
Ethiopian, Lives in Toronto

How did YF 2017 affect you?

I’ve learned the power of teamwork, the utilisation of individual strength and the astonishment of creating bonds with strangers.

What are the impacts of diversity?

Diversity can be used to unite individuals to produce incredible works. Diversity should never be used to promote hatred or negativity.

How did YF 2017’s cultural diversity change your mindset?
The diversity of the group of Young Fellows allowed me to develop the leadership skills required to succeed in today’s society with a morally-favoured foundation.

How can diversity make this world a better place?
Attending public schools from a young age allowed me to build bonds with individuals from various backgrounds, providing me with experience in understanding others from different cultures.

And for you?
Diversity will allow me to utilise diversity and proceed with the goals I’ve planned for my community. I’ll utilise the privileges I’ve earned from Canada as my birthplace where diversity is apparent everywhere you go.


Nur Farhah Ya’kob
Former Market Analyst,
Frost & Sullivan, Malaysia
26 years old
Malaysian, Lives in Kuala Lumpur

How did YF 2017 affect you?
The ambience at the Young Fellows was as such that it felt like a sanctuary cultivating new ideas and skills, a safe space to make mistakes and an environment that exudes positivity.

What are the impacts of diversity?
Diversity drives development and when we accept, appreciate and utilise diversity, that’s when we move progressively and productively forward.

How did YF 2017’s cultural diversity change your mindset?
The unfaltering teamwork among us and our different backgrounds transformed my doubts and fears into trust and excitement about being part of a diverse group.

How can diversity make this world a better place?
Being different or having differences in opinion should not be disdained. Disagreements should raise pro-activity in exploring diversities.

And for you?
I’m currently working to achieve diversity through nutritional education for children and young adults because the creation of food in itself involves varying aspects. It’s born out of differences and has the power to spark joyful conversations on cultures and the uniqueness of diversity.


Nashra Sudario
Associate Brand Strategist, Y&R, Philippines
23 years old
Filipino, Lives in Manila

How did YF 2017 affect you?
Being with people from different countries who are all eager to learn about one another’s culture, passionate about what they do that benefit communities ignited my desire to change the world.

What are the impacts of diversity?
People from different groups and regions, from a unique system of belief and cultural principles, exude a sense of collectivism – creating a stimulus of defending one’s own. If not careful, diversity can disintegrate nations.

How did YF 2017’s cultural diversity change your mindset?
The Young Fellows made me realise that I can make things better in a world that makes doing good seem inexpedient.

How can diversity make this world a better place?
By building a culture that gives high respect for creative products and services, we’re a step closer towards growth and peace. The world’s changing and countries are becoming more diverse than ever and its effects depend on whether we use diversity to fuel unity or against humanity.

And for you?
I believe in the power of arts to move people together. The more people appreciate arts and culture, the more they embrace diversity.


About WIEF’S Young Fellows 2017

Held in the historical city of Melaka, WIEF’s Young Fellows 2017 programme revolved around the theme of ‘Unlocking the Business of Heritage and Culture’ and it was from 30 April to 6 May 2017. It was a leadership empowerment programme where handpicked 24 young leaders from 14 countries came together to expand their network, explore business potential in culture and heritage as well as absorb diversity.

Not only did the participants learn more about the potential of this sector but they learnt how to organise an event from scratch and this included how to publicise the event, work with each other and manage a budget for it.

Coach Richard Dacalos introducing the board game Upstart at YF 2017

During the week-long programme, the participants were divided into groups that had a specific function that played a vital role in the success of their event. They worked as a team to accomplish given tasks, worked under pressure due to the limited time given while practising their redefined understanding of integrity. Often, one stepped in to assist another team member, covered their back or took the lead when necessary.

While completing tasks given, they explored Melaka, admired its eclectic architecture that housed history of the Dutch, English and Bugis settlements, formed bonds with each other and withstood the legendary heat of Melaka that gave it its red earth as well as bouts of vividly coloured bougainvillaea.



14 Dec 2018
Last modified: 2 Jan 2019
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