Not all superheroes wear capes. Rather, heroes and heroines come in all shapes, ages, and sizes. On Monday, September 24th 2018, Youtube star Lilly Singh (known popularly as “Superwoman”) and Korean pop idol Kim Nam-joon (known popularly as “RM”, the rapper of the popular boy band Beyond The Scene) spoke at the launch of the Youth2030: The United Nations Youth Strategy. The mission of Youth2030 is to educate the youth of today so that they have the skills to innovate the future. Both parties attended on behalf of UNICEF, hoping to advocate initiatives to educate, empower, and engage the youth. Instead of voicing their opinions on stage or behind a camera, Superwoman and BTS shared their inspirational stories in front of a council room housing representatives from all countries around the world.
BTS was on call first, touching the heart of those in the room with an anecdote from RM’s childhood. RM narrates, “I was born in llsan, a city near Seoul, South Korea…I spent a really happy childhood there and I was just an ordinary boy. I use to look up at the night sky and wonder…I use to imagine that I was a superhero who could save the world.” RM continues his speech, accounting how he lost himself in the voice of others until, “a small voice inside of me said, ‘wake up man and listen to yourself.’” Today, it is easy to be engulfed by the opinions of others, especially with technological innovations at our fingertips. To possess powers to change someone’s life within a simple click of a button is scary, requiring responsibility and thought. You, the youth, should embrace your quirkiness, intelligence, charisma, all of you because you have a unique story and no one has the right to change it without your permission.
As young people, we often dwell on our faults: believing we make one too many mistakes. As youths, we experiment, making mistakes now in hopes of learning from them. RM acknowledges his faults, emphasizing that although BTS is a global sensation, “I am still an ordinary 24 year old guy… And maybe I made a mistake yesterday, but yesterday’s me is still me. Today I am who I am with all of my faults and mistakes. Tomorrow, I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that will be me too. These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life.”
RM drops the mic with a final note, “I urge you to speak yourself…No matter who you are, where your from, your skin color, your gender identity, just speak yourself. ”
Superwoman readily swoops in, orating her story. She highlights that, “Young people make up 25% of the world’s population…We have access to borderless tools and technologies that allow us to share our voices, our knowledge, and our experiences further than ever before.” The statistics may state that the youth make up 25% of the present population, but we are 100% the future. No matter where we are in the world, the youth collectively mold the generations to come.
Superwoman humbly admitted, “when I compare myself to the circumstances of what the majority of young people face, to be honest, I feel like I practically won the lottery. I got to receive an education, I got support. I didn’t have to face obstacles such as poverty, conflict, or fail institutions.” Living in a first world country with luxuries to education, clean water, and unlimited access to wifi, it’s easy to overlook our accessibility to resources. Like Superwoman, everyday, we should feel privileged: scratching the lucky numbers that grant us access to school, bless us with a supportive community of family and friends, and allow us to be healthy, growing teenagers.
Painting a colorful image of the future, Superwoman sheds light on the fact that, “when we give skills and education to young people, they become leaders and beacons of light this world needs. So if we want to solve any problem, from conflict to disease to climate change, we have to start with young people and acknowledge the huge impact they have in their communities in their countries and in the world.”
Superheroes like Lilly Singh and members of BTS stand at forefront of youth movements with Superwoman’s Girl Love campaign and BTS’s Love Myself campaign, inspiring millions across the globe. They encourage us, the future, to be superheroes and storytellers of our story and future. Start soaring through the skies, looking up at the stars, and dreaming big, always remembering that you have a voice that matters. You have the power to shape the future, taking down one villain or problem at a time.
To read more, check out these links:
- Youth2030: https://www.un.org/youthenvoy/youth-un/
- UNICEF: https://www.unicef.org/
- BTS ‘Love Myself’ Campaign: https://www.love-myself.org/eng/campaign-list/
- Lilly Singh: https://www.unicef.org/media/media_96640.html
- BTS UN Speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhJ-LAQ6e_Y
- Lilly Singh UN Speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HHup8PkAK0