Student Spotlight: Hila Davies

Hila Davies’s passion to drive change inspired her to join the inaugural cohort of the Global Citizen Year Academy in 2020. A Welsh-Malaysian native who grew up in Singapore, Hila felt powerless and angry due to the global climate crisis. She is on a mission to educate young people about the dangers and the consequences of unchecked global warming.

Hila Davies: On a mission to build a sustainable future for all

“During my gap year in the pandemic in 2020, I was looking for a way to make an impact at a very tumultuous time. Everyone was feeling quite helpless, and Global Citizen Year seemed like the perfect opportunity. I felt like I could build something not only for myself, but build a skill set that would allow me, in the future, to have a meaningful impact on the world.”

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Community comes together at the Academy

Hila learned about the Academy from her school, United World College of South East Asia, and was keen to explore the topics of leadership, sustainable impact, and development.

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At the Academy, Hila met other students who had similar questions, who were looking for a space to connect with peers, and who were exploring the impact of the climate crisis on their communities.

“At the Academy, I met this massive community of friends and peers that I call my best friends- even though we all met online. We were put in this very safe space with a diverse student community and I felt that I was in a room with people that understand. We all had a shared value system and we all understood each other on a level that was really unique,” the 19-year-old says.

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During the Academy semester, Hila had the opportunity to reflect and focus on her inner self. An interaction with Shawn Mendes, the Canadian singer-songwriter, during the Academy’s Speaker Series, inspired her to work towards her passion, her vision in life. To date, she says, when stuck in a challenging or stressful situation, she recalls his advice, “Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to be there for yourself.”

Converting passion to career to create large scale impact

After joining the Academy Hila began to look for career opportunities to use her skills and knowledge to create a large-scale impact. She connected with ‘Take Action Global’ through the Global Citizen Year Impact Partnership Program and began her internship by mid-September, 2020. Focusing on Climate Action Day, a worldwide movement of young people who are concerned about climate change and global injustice, Hila’s work responsibilities included moderating panel discussions and student mentorship.

“Through this internship, I was able to help create a system where students, globally, could gain feedback on their climate solutions and talk to climate experts.”

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After graduating from the Academy in December, Hila continued to work with ‘Take Action Global’, focusing on community engagement. Using climate education as a force for environmental action, she works with students, teachers, and educational institutions, worldwide. Through panel discussions and networking, Hila aims to connect with young climate activists and tell them that they are not alone in their struggle.

“This is my way of fighting back and asking for the opportunity to have a healthy life and a family in the future. We are all in it together!” she says.

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Know yourself to craft your journey

Hila believes that her time at the Academy was instrumental to not only realizing her vision but also, recognizing her self-worth and value system. After learning at the Academy, she began to look at our climate crisis through the lens of advocacy, activism, and protests. The Academy helped her to understand that the climate crisis is not just about the environment. Rather, it is also about economics, politics, social relationships, and social constructs.

“Without my experience in the Academy and without taking a gap year, I wouldn't be the person I am today,” she says.

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