Youth: After a weeklong competition among 80 students of the Golden Youth Award camp, Nawa Raj Rai, from Mendrelgang central school in Tsirang took away the prestigious title of Golden Youth Award winner.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother Tshering Pem Wangchuck and Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay awarded the trophy and certificate to Nawa Raj Rai at the Youth Development Fund (YDF) on July 9.

Her Royal Highness Princess Chimi Yangzom Wangchuck and Her Royal Highness Princess Kezang Choden Wangchuck presented the runners up with trophies and certificates.

Other participants, teachers and judges were also presented with certificates.

Every year, 80 students are selected from all dzongkhags to compete for the title. The winner of the Golden Youth Award receives a scholarship from YDF.

The participants have to undergo a series of local and national competitions at the camp. They are judged in terms of their academic excellence, literary knowledge such as their general knowledge, IQ, essay writing and extempore, talents, games and sports, and social services, among others.

Her Majesty told the participants that they are all blessed and fortunate to have a wise and benevolent King who holds the youth of Bhutan close to his heart.

The Golden Youth Award camp, this year, is dedicated to His Royal Highness Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother said it is befitting that future leaders gathered at YDF for the camp can also rejoice in the Birth of HRH the Gyalsey, who will one day provide the continued leadership the country needs to take it to new heights.

“The event of the YDF that I always cherish is the Golden Youth Award camp, I enjoy and love meeting young people from across the country and it is wonderful that we can bring so many exceptional youth under one roof to begin friendships in health competitions,” Her Majesty said. “This common platform reinforces what His Majesty has been highlighting in his royal addresses to the young people; the importance of unity in our small country,” Her Majesty added. “Our strength as a sovereign nation lies in our unity and as youth leaders each one of you will make the difference.”

Her Majesty pointed out that the purpose of the Golden Youth Award is more than just selecting the best. Her Majesty said it is an effort to build leadership and recognise different aptitudes that are important to lead wholesome lives.

Since its launch nine years ago, 674 students have participated in the camp. Today, there are six Golden youth studying in prestigious colleges in the Netherlands and Canada.

“These students are excelling in their colleges and doing our country proud,” Her Majesty said.  “Every year, we receive more scholarship offers in United World Colleges. This I believe is because our Golden Youth has set an exemplary precedence. The Bhutanese always do well in everything. We always surpass the others. We are proud of ourselves but humble towards others. Humility is not a sign of weakness but of inner strength and self-esteem,” Her Majesty added.

Her Majesty expressed concern with youth violence, drug abuse and suicide. “Such news saddens me greatly and I often wonder why and what is missing in our efforts,” Her Majesty said.  “Are we doing too much and not building resilient youth or are we doing too little? There are more questions than answers,” Her Majesty addd. “Where are we going wrong? What can we do to make it better?”

“Today, I look towards the youth present here for answers. I would like to ask you to be the solution. Join us at this movement that we can call youth-for-youth, the theme being that each one of you will help someone in your school who is in trouble by being and becoming a mentor,” Her Majesty said, inviting the group to further develop the programme.

“You can only be the best of the best if you can make a difference in someone’s life and to be the one to make the first ripple of happiness,” Her Majesty said. “The 80 of you who have been selected for the camp have proven yourselves, you have not only made your parents and teachers proud but your King and country as well,” Her Majesty added. “Remember that winning is not as important as putting in practice all that you have learnt at this camp. Each and every one of you is a winner.”

Golden Youth’s winner, Nawa Raj Rai, said Her Majesty the Queen Mother’s wise words immensely inspired him. “I would like to thank Her Majesty the Queen Mother and YDF for this golden opportunity,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier and proud. It just shows that you can achieve whatever you put your heart and effort in,” the 18-year-old said. “I will work hard wherever I study and make my King, country and people proud.”

Organised by the YDF, the weeklong Golden Youth Award camp started from July 3 and ended on July 9.

Thinley Zangmo