World Changer Series - Angga D. Martha

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By Rhea James Fox

I recently attended TEDxUbud and was incredibly inspired by Indonesia's UN Youth Advisor Angga D. Martha's TED talk on the role of millennials in social change. He has an inspiring story and has also met former President Obama - talk about #careergoals! 

Tell us briefly what you do and why you do it. 

I'm currently the UN Youth Adviser for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in Indonesia and I play an interface role between the government and the UN country team in coordinating and mobilising youth around awareness and implementation of the 2030 Agenda of the SDG’s. I’m also part of the CIVICUS Youth Action team, and am one of the Global Focal Point of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth, focusing on issues relating to peace, justice, and good governance. 

I do this work as I’m extremely interested in these issues due to my personal experience. Growing up in Kerinci, Jambi, I started to see in my surroundings the challenges and the poverty cycle that was affecting a lot of the people I knew. When parents don’t have an education it’s difficult for their children to have an education as they often cannot afford to send their children to school. A lot of people around me then fell into marriage and the cycle repeated itself. I was lucky enough to receive an education which is a huge privilege, so I wanted to give back. 

What projects are you working on right now?

A lot of the language surrounding the SGD's is very jargonistic, and my role is to make it relatable to younger generations. I work on three main issues, and the first is advising the government and the UN on ways to involve young people on the programme as part of the solution and not as beneficiaries or as ‘the object’. The second is to facilitate participation and work with youth across the country, mostly on projects and start-ups and advise them and connect them with others to assist in the success of their projects. Thirdly, I aim to be a voice for change and discussion on the SDG's in Indonesia and around the world. 

Tell us about your TEDx talk and the role of millennials in social change. 

My TEDxUbud talk was on the importance to provide space, opportunity and investment to young people so they can be empowered and have the resources to make social change. Active participation with young people will never work unless they are seen as a partner. Mentorship is essential as well to build and generate discussion and talk about issues that the world is facing, and how they could be solved if we all joined together. 

How would you suggest a millennial go about getting a mentor, or a mentor getting a mentee? 

The best way is to start to follow your passions and start working in that field in one way or another, which could include interning, as then you will begin to meet people who inspire you and that you aspire to be like. Mentee's can also be found in your personal network too, not just professional. If there's a younger person you know that may need and like some guidance, ask if they would like a mentor. 

It can be very flexible and diverse and can range from a structured approach with meetings every week or more casual arrangement. You can also have multiple mentors. A mentor is like a friend you can learn from. 

Tell us about meeting Obama! 

Meeting Former President Obama was definitely a career highlight for me. The Obama Foundation got in touch about working with youth and asked if I was interested in meeting them. I didn't know I was going to be meeting him until the day before and when I found out I was so nervous! But he put everyone at ease as he is incredibly humble and shook everyone's hand and said let's be informal and chat! So we spoke for two hours with 9 other young people from Southeast Asia who are also working on different issues. It was an incredible and inspiring experience! 

What / who inspires and influences you? 

My parents. They gave me opportunities that many others in my community did not have. My parents were incredibly supportive of education and would spend all their money on my education. They are my idols. 

I'm also inspired by Harry Potter! It was the first novel I read and it expanded the horizon of my life as it currently was and what it could be. It's the first time I'd heard of a place called London! It made me want to go there and changed my perceptive on what my life could be like and how I was going to achieve it. If I wanted to go to London, I needed to get an education and find an opportunity to make it happen!

And one question from Tim Ferris Tribe of Mentors - In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour or habit has most improved your life? 

My belief on diversity has changed and improved a lot. When I lived in Kerinci, all of my friends and people I knew were Muslim, and now that I live in Jakarta I have many friends with different backgrounds. It made me change my perspective and question how I perceive tolerance. Every person has their own needs, which are all very individual based on their different backgrounds. Encouraging and cultivating diversity is a fundamental way to make social change on an individual level. 

Rhea James Fox