Auckland, April 9, 2017
With so many humanitarian, economic, military and ecological crises facing the world, it can get depressing, especially if you are a young person with a life ahead of you, says Naor Tal Alfassi Berman.
But since he took part in Create 1world event at Massey University last year, he has been speaking out on the world stage and is now hoping to form a group of activist-artists from the Pacific to participate at United Nations and other global climate change conferences.
Mr Berman, whose parents are from South Africa and Israel, was part of a New Zealand youth delegation to the UN climate change conference (COP22) in Morocco last November.
Opportunity for youth
Having been on the global stage at the UN conference, he reckons it is important that young people have a platform at large scale conferences such as COP22 so that they can directly address negotiators and diplomats who are making decisions about a world that todays youth will inherit.
He was a year 13 Pupil at Aucklands Western Springs College when he attended the inaugural Create1world youth event in 2016, a competition and conference encouraging high school pupils to create one world through art and creativity.
He won the first prize in Creative Writing at the event for a poem he co-wrote with Ariana Brunet on a youth view of the worlds problems,
He described the experience as awesome and a lot of fun, and valued the array of international speakers and chance to mix and collaborate with peers from around the country.
Event this year
This year, the free Create1world conferences will be held at Masseys Wellington and Auckland campuses on June 30 and July 6 respectively. The Creative Activism and Global Citizenship Competition is open to Year 9 to 13 pupils in New Zealand.
Hosted jointly by Massey University and the New Zealand Centre for Global Studies, the competition is to challenge teen students to make a video, write a song, create a drama or speech, or write a poem or short story about creativity and global citizenship.
Two new categories have been added for 2017; visual arts and social studies. Entries close May 2 and can be in any Pacific Island language or te reo Mori as well as in English.
Massey School of English and Media Studies Associate Professor Elspeth Tilley said that the themes are the same, if perhaps the urgency is greater.
How will the arts help us create peace, tolerance, equality and save the planet? We need young peoples ideas and we need to inspire them as to what is possible. Maybe a good shorthand for the theme of this competition is one persons problem is everyones problem. Entries can explore a big issue or a tiny one, we dont mind, but they should show through art and creativity a way that we can connect with other humans, cross borders of any kind, and build mutual understanding.
Ms Tilley said that many young people care very deeply about justice, equity, sustainability, peace and other issues, and are already involved in school-based activism groups. But not many are interested in attending political conferences to further their interests. However, many are willing to respond or express themselves through art and performance as a way of getting involved.
Guest speakers at the Wellington conference include Dave Ojay, an African playwright and climate activist and founder of a festival and social media photography campaign to save Africas Lake Victoria, who will be speaking live via video link from Kenya.
Others are New Zealand-based Brazilian singer Alda Rezende, Co-Founder of the Tutakitaki project for experimental musical work to promote links between Brazilian popular and indigenous traditions with Mori music.
Also appearing is Victor Rodger, an award-winning playwright of Samoan and Pkeh heritage whose scripts address issues of race, identity, sexuality and empathy; and Australian creative activist Amy Spiers, via video link from Melbourne.
At the Auckland conference in Albany, guests are Massey creative writing lecturers, poet Dr Johanna Emeney, playwright Stuart Hoar and fiction writer Dr Tina Makereti, as well as playwright Donna Banicevich Gera and poet Carrie Rudzinski.
Dr Tilley said that the Create1world event aims to foster hope for the next generation. This sense of hope is crucial New Zealand has a shockingly high youth suicide rate, and while depression is complex, the overwhelming scope of problems like climate change contributes to a sense of powerlessness.
Feedback from another participant last year described Create1world as profusely life-changing. The student said they had always loved acting, writing, and creativity, and realizing how fundamental and incredibly powerful they can be for making a change has blown my mind.
Dr Tilley said, What shocks me is not that one conference made a difference, but that, for these particular students, nobody has connected these things before. At Massey University, I am fortunate to work with like-minded colleagues in an innovative social justice theatre studies curriculum that asks students to Perform the change you want to see and prioritises student-led projects.
- Naor Tal Alfassi Berman (second from left) at the COP22 Conference in Morocco in November 2016
- Associate Professor Elspeth Tilley