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When I heard about Youth Think Tank from a friend, it sounded like an exciting opportunity for me to access a platform where young people are trained to find solutions to the challenges that they face.

It was also an opportunity for me as a female to show other young girls that there is huge potential in us. We have the potential to play a big role in changing our communities, so I decided to apply to become a researcher because it was one door opened for me to achieve my dreams.

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Peace conducting research with a community member.

I experienced firsthand speaking with young people & industry players in the hospitality and tourism sector about transforming young people’s lives in my country. Accessing this sector can provide many economic opportunities for us. I truly believe that with youth leadership, a lot more can be done.

I have learnt that there are many reasons why young people should be engaged at all stages of decision making. They should be at the center of solving matters that affect them. When a young person is conducting sessions with other young people to ask them questions about issues they care about, it is really effective.

We were able to speak naturally with our peers and understand where they are coming from, they feel safe talking to us. It also means young people are directly taking part in decision making and meeting with organisations and others with power. This proves young people have just as an important role to play in having leadership roles.

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A research session with a group of young people.

The most interesting information I found from conducting the research is that young people have started looking at Hospitality and tourism as a good source of income. The perception of it among young people is often that it won’t provide career progression.

However after speaking with young people about the variety of opportunities for interesting careers, many said they would love to pursue their careers in this sector because they are seeing their peers becoming successful in it and as well building their future networks. This information is important because it will inspire other young people to change their negative  perceptions towards the sector.

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Peace speaking with another young woman.

After we have conducted the research I go back to different community members, organisations and young people to discuss the findings and take actions forward. This informs and influences decisions and policies taken towards improving young people’s employment and life skills.

Being a youth researcher has built my confidence as a young person and boosted my communication, leadership and research skills.

Peace, 23, is a young researcher in the Youth Think Tank – a MasterCard foundation project in collaboration with Restless Development. Read her research here. She is in her final year of an environmental engineering degree at the University of Rwanda.

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