Harnessing the Potential of Our Youth - the Honda Dreams Fund 2008 Workshop

potential honda fund scholar66 youths were finally chosen to participate in a three-day workshop for the final shortlist to 20 deserving candidates for the scholarship. | Photo: UNDP Malaysia

If you have the dreams, we have the means. Honda working in partnership with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is dedicated to help the under privileged youth to take their first steps into realizing the power of their dreams through The Honda Dreams Fund (HDF) scholarship. Honda is assisting these youth to further their studies or skills training at a local institution of their choice in Malaysia.
 
After a thorough, tedious and detailed process of screening, cross checking and selecting from over 1000 applications for review and submission to the Advisory Panel, a total of 66 youths were finally chosen to participate in a three-day workshop for the final shortlist to 20 deserving candidates for the scholarship. The workshop was held in a hotel in Shah Alam from 5-8 June 2008.
 
On the first day, it was compulsory for all the participants to register with Honda/ UNDP at the hotel lobby. All travel arrangements had been prearranged by Honda’s outsourced agencies with the help of the local focal points in the rural areas. This was the first trip to Kuala Lumpur for many of the participants, especially those from Sabah and Sarawak and we could clearly see the excitement in their faces.
 
Representatives from UNDP quickly got to work by organizing and arranging the participants to have an informal interview, just to understand and know their background a little better before the workshop commenced.

interviewing one of the shortlisted applicantsA representative from UNDP interviewing one of the shortlisted applicants | Photo: Shirly Chan/UNDP Malaysia

After dinner, everyone gathered in the hotel’s conference hall and the professional trainer started to introduce himself and by beginning with the Introduction, Briefing and Ice Breaker sessions. It was fun to watch the trainer as he made fun of the participants in hope of making them relax, laugh whilst making friends with each other. His jokes were so funny that everyone in the hall was laughing away. The first night then concluded with a photo session for the participants.
 
On the second day, we could feel a more relaxed atmosphere where many had found new friends and they were happily chatting away while waiting for the official workshop to begin at 9am.

team buildingTeam-building was an important component of the workshop | Photo: Lilei Chow/UNDP Malaysia

The first session was an introduction to Honda followed by the introduction to UNDP. After that, the trainer commenced the workshop literally with a ‘big bang’ accompanied by very loud and energetic music when he entered the hall to greet everyone. Three successful scholars from last year’s HDF were also invited to share their experiences and some of them even ended up giving a motivational talk to the participants instead!
 
Subsequently, the trainer and his team introduced a few fun-filled activities and games in order for his team to assess the participants.  The highlight of these activities was when the participants were separated into groups and each group was requested to design a twin tower using minimal resources of newspaper and sticky tape only. Then they had to present and try to sell their towers to the panel. They had to come up with the most creative and out of the box concept and market it to UNDP. It was a delight to watch them designing, building and subsequently presenting their master pieces!

Later that night, Honda organized a welcome dinner with Mr. Atsushi Fujimoto, CEO & MD of Honda Malaysia giving the welcome note. Puan Daratul Baida,  UNDP’s Officer In Charge was also invited to give a speech.  Last year’s successful scholars were also invited to the dinner.  There were many obvious positive changes reflected in many of them.  For starters, many of them were more confident in expressing themselves and they definitely have matured in the past year. They teamed up and sang a few ad-hoc songs (created by them on that night itself) to show their appreciation to everyone involved.

 Partcipants smilingParticipants smiling for the camera | Photo: Lilei Chow/ UNDP Malaysia

The next day, the workshop focused mainly on team work among the participants. Even though the participants knew that they were being assessed, we could see clearly that they were enjoying themselves throughout the activities. It was a very new and enriching experience for many of them to be able to mix around with youths of different cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities.  After tea break it was time to announce the shortlisted thirty candidates to be interviewed by the Advisory panel members.
 
The panel consisted of representatives from Honda, UNDP, SUHAKAM, AWAM and Maljis Belia Malaysia. Interview sessions started after dinner that very night and resumed the following morning. Meanwhile, the rest of the participants had the opportunity to attend a career talk and counseling session by professionals in the field.
 
During the interview, each candidate were requested to share their story and many of them talked with passion regarding their dreams and how it could help lift their family‘s financial burdens if their dreams came true. Some spoke in BM, some were very soft and some stuttered but overall they managed to talk about their life and what they wanted with genuine conviction.  This was especially true for candidates from rural areas of East Malaysia. Many life stories were very touching and the various cases were very deserving, and some of them made us teary-eyed!  However, we could only choose twenty of the most deserving candidates for the scholarships.
 
After all the marks were collated from the assessment and interviews, the panels reviewed and discussed again to make sure that the most deserving candidates will be chosen. It was very hard for the panel to choose but finally the decision was made on Sunday (last day) for the top twenty successful scholars.  These candidates would subsequently be notified by Honda via telephone after the workshop. The workshop concluded with lunch on Sunday, 8 June 2008.

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