This Malaysian Lad Is Being Recognised By The Queen Of UK For His Work In Fighting Poverty

Calvin Woo Yoong Shen is one of 60 youths from Commonwealth countries and the only one from Malaysia to be receiving the recognition from Her Majesty the Queen.

Cover image via Choo Choy May/Malay Mail Online

At 20, while most struggle with life's little questions, Calvin Woo Yoong Shen is helping boost social development in Malaysia with his work by improving access to education and fighting poverty...

Calvin drafts modules for personal, career, academic and technical programmes at a social enterprise company called SASTRA (Strategic Transformation via Education Development). He is the SASTRA Head of Programme for Malaysia.

Now his efforts have won him the Queen's Young Leaders Award. As the only Malaysian among 60 winners from across the Commonwealth, Calvin will be receiving the prestigious award from the Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace next year.

The young leaders programme looks at achievements of young people in transforming lives and making a lasting difference in their communities, a statement from the organisers said.

This year’s award winners, aged between 18 and 29, are working to raise awareness and inspire change on various issues, including on education, climate change, gender equality, mental health and disability equality.

As part of the award, winners will receive mentoring and online learning provided by the University of Cambridge. bRecipients will attend a week-long residential programme in the UK in June when they receive their award at Buckingham Palace.

Speaking to TMI, Calvin, who feels honoured to be part of the programme and to be recognised among other brilliant people, said:

"I believe in the power of education to change lives. Through my work, I help marginalised young people in Malaysia by providing them with career planning and academic workshops. It’s amazing to be recognised among so many other brilliant young people who are making a difference."

At SASTRA, Calvin's programme modules are used by his team of six to teach underprivileged students aged between 15 and 17...

"We are sometimes invited to the schools and at times, we look for schools to carry out our programmes. These kids can be slackers, drug addicts or just people who do bad things when they are supposed to be studying," he said, adding that his team has to date executed the eight-month long programme at one school in Kedah and another in Kuala Lumpur.

Asked if the students took him seriously given that he is just a few years older than them, Woo said they, in fact, became accepting after knowing his age.

"I tell them my age and when I do so, they become more open with me. I am able to hear their problems and help them see opportunities to overcome them," he said.

Calvin, who regards his family as the inspiration for his wanting to help the community and nation through education, says, a country can only develop economically when the people start to pull themselves together to make a change...

Of his own experience in school, Woo said it was somewhat difficult for him to get along with his classmates as he was "different" from them. Spending most of his time in the library in school and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris where he did his diploma in English language, Woo said his friends were his teachers and lecturers.

"I enjoy intellectual conversations and so my friends are mostly academicians," he said, adding that he spent his free time playing badminton. "I also try to make it a point to visit my family in Muar (Johor) whenever I can as my younger brother, who is 17 years old, is one of the reasons why I decided to choose this path," he said.

Speaking to The Malay Mail Online about his long-term plan, Calvin said that before he turns 30, he would like to start a family, get a doctorate and start his very own socio-enterprise

"Before I’m 30 years old, I would like to do all these but whether they are going to happen or not, it is in His (God's) hands. My short term goal would be to study for my degree in education studies," he said.

Previously on SAYS Feel Good Friday:

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