I was able to utilize the skills provided by the WLF program and share my expertise at many conferences and speaking events
Hello! My name is James Paek and I am 27 years old currently living in the United States in Georgia. Illiteracy is major issue within my state especially in the rural communities where there is lack of access to education, poor health, poverty, poor infrastructure, and incarceration. According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, nearly 99.7 percent of Georgia residents are literate. Even though, our state has the highest literacy rate than other states, still, only about one in six Georgians has low literacy skills and 63 percent of Georgia’s third graders are not reading on grade level according to the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta statistics. Having a high literacy rate in the state underscores the importance of marginalized communities that are far behind on literate and education achievements in the state. Because of this, Literacy for All, a donor-advised fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, have been doing campaign for many years to end low literacy rate through collaboration with private-public partnership. However, there is more work to be done in order to solve low literacy rate in Georgia, even though, literacy rate is high for the state.
Concerns about illiteracy
I decided to join World Literacy Foundation since 2020 to help youth and children to be able to read and be literate so they can be successful in education and their future workforce. Without having to be literate, there are consequences such as increase in poverty, less participation in the workforce, more likely to commit a crime, social intolerance, disease, lawlessness, and upheaval. Unable to obtain employment will lead to unstable income, lack of participation of good citizens, low morale, and increase in crime. Joining World Literacy Foundation was a first step for me to understand the foundation of literacy, advocacy, fundraising, and campaigns so I can use these skills to raise awareness about the illiteracy within my local community.
One of my biggest concerns about illiteracy is ripple effect of the society such as low productivity, low morale, lack of participation in the workforce, increase in crime, and less responsible, low income, and dysfunction. Without investing and modernizing our current education system in Georgia and other states, youths are more likely to drop out of school, school suspension, low participation, and increase in crime. Solving the illiteracy rate in the United States is a priority for many youths around the world and must ensure that literate and educate the youths will increase the economic benefit for the country, work productivity, and outlook. If governments and politicians are unable to handle this issue, it can cost the world economy estimated $1 trillion in lost work productivity which is significant for the world’s economy.
Applying for the Youth Ambassador program
I learned about the World Literacy Foundation from Facebook page and decided to apply for the program to advance my advocacy on literacy and campaign awareness within my college campus and understand the foundation of literacy and other skills needed to support the community to increase literacy rate.
So far, World Literacy Foundation helped me to understand the foundation of Literacy and challenges to solve literacy around the world including ways to raise awareness campaign, fundraising, support organizations who already started their youth campaigns about illiteracy within my local community, and make positive impact on improving literacy for vulnerable youths. Interact, share, and cooperate with other like-minded people was an amazing experience for me to be involved with other WLF Ambassadors. We were able to share our concerns, problems, and solution to other WLF Ambassadors and able to support each other on projects and initiatives to eradicate the illiteracy around the world.
Becoming a voice to advocate on literacy
After completing the WLF Ambassador program for two years, I was able to utilize the skills provided by the WLF program and share my expertise to many conferences and speaking events for various organization from Amnesty International to Junior Achievement International to raise an advocacy on literacy and ways to support education to marginalized communities among children and youths who are illiterate. Public speaking and communication skills helped me the most of my program as these skills were my weakness and been able to articulate my passion and interests into action through advocacy awareness and campaign were helpful to me to get speaking opportunities within last two years.
One of my advice to future Ambassadors who want to apply is to stay engaged and continue to be passion on your initiatives and make a positive impact within your own community. I encourage future Ambassadors to apply for this program as it can help on various skills from communication to fundraising and be able to utilize these skills into action. Throughout the program, you will be able to meet like-minded people who are willing to help you on your projects or fundraising and are able to support you regardless of your location, background, or experience.
Author: James Paek
Country: United States