It was 28th December 2005. As early as 9.30 o’clock in the morning, 50 youths from all walks of life slowly gathered in front of the Bookers Room in MPH Bookstore, One Utama, their age ranging from 14-20 years old. Some of them came along with supporting mothers, and underprivileged youths were invited from homes such as Ti-Ratana and CHILD. All of them had one thing in mind: the topic “To Love or Not To Love”.

At 10.30am sharp, everyone sat eagerly in two circles, ready to participate in another one of Young Leadership International’s program (YLI), facilitated by Datin Leela Vijay Kumar and Miss Ong Eng Eng. After a quick introduction of the topic, participants were encouraged to ask questions that puzzled them in relationships between boys and girls of their age group. Honest and straight-forward questions were posed, and during the discussion, everybody laughed at the frankness and humor of each question such as:
- What is the suitable age to begin a relationship?
- How do we differentiate between crush and love?
- Is difference of age a factor in a relationship?
- What are the disadvantages of masturbation?
- Does your girlfriend like you or not?
- How do you express your feelings to someone you love?
- How can you identify whether a girl likes you or not?
- How do I handle gossips about me and “Miss X”?

Miss Ong also presented newspaper cuttings highlighting cases such as date rapes. First dates may not be as picture perfect as the way it seems on the outside. “My Protector has become a Predator instead!” Statistics has also shown that youth as young as 9 years old got involved in serious relationships these days; survey on the average age of Malaysians who lost their virginity was 19! Although shocking, but these made the youths contemplate about the possible trouble and consequences they might face once landed onto the wrong path.

Overall, everybody enjoyed themselves throughout the dialogue. Journalists were present too from BERNAMA, New Straits Times, Utusan Melayu and Harian Metro. After the dialogue, they interviewed youths on their opinions and comments about the dialogue. Everybody’s reviews including the media’s were positive and encouraging.

This dialogue was truly interesting and educational because the youths could relate personally to the issues of love and relationship, and were able to participate and respond enthusiastically.

Reported by: Tan Swea Phin
15 years old

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