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Read the stories of our interns, learn about the projects they worked on, and know that all this is thanks to you and your support of our work.
2014 Interns & Fellows
Juan Miguel San Luis
Manila, Philippines
  Janine Tutanes
Manila, Philippines
Natalie Lam
Singapore
  María José García Manzano
Guadalajara, México
Fernando Vial
Santiago, Chile
  Ana Laura Hernández Martínez
Mexico City, Mexico
2013 Interns
Edward Abland
Virginia Beach, VA
  Diane Rosales
Makati, Philippines 
Mary Imbong
Manila, Philippines
  Zarina San Jose
Manila, Philippines 
Weronika Janczuk
New York, NY
 
     

From Juan Miguel San Luis of Manila, Philippines

Dear Friend of the World Youth Alliance,

My name is Juan Miguel San Luis and I am 23-years old. I was born in the Philippines but moved to Norwalk, Connecticut after graduating from college. I am a Multi-Media Arts student from the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde. There, I was a member of a volunteer group called Student Trainers where I trained students to develop their skills as student leaders. It has always been my passion to help people, especially those in need. My family is one of the biggest parts of my life. I treasure and cherish them because I believe that the family is the basic and most important element of society.

I found out about the World Youth Alliance through a friend who also did her internship at the Asia Pacific office. When I first looked into the organization, I didn't think there would be an opportunity for me to showcase my skills as an intern but learning that WYA is an organization that values the dignity of the human person encouraged me. After learning a little bit more about WYA, I decided to apply for an internship in the Asia Pacific office during my last semester in college. During the course of my internship, WYA helped me to become more creative. They gave me a chance not only to be a multi-multimedia artist in practice, but also a project head of various activities where I was able to contribute and improve my skills as a volunteer and student leader in college. After completing my regional internship, I decided to apply for the International Internship in New York. Now I have the opportunity to work with WYA at its New York office until the end of summer, something I'm very excited for. Becoming part of WYA is fulfilling because I am not only working on projects asked of me as an intern, but I also help other people by advocating and being in solidarity with them. This brings me joy unlike any other. After my internship, I plan to get a job where I can promote dignity and the importance of solidarity while utilizing my multi-media skill set.

One of the things I really admire about WYA is its emphasis on Solidarity. WYA does not stop at defining what Solidarity is, but lives it out in everything they do with the people around them. Whether members of the staff, interns, alumni, friends of friends, etc., WYA treats us as if we are all ONE FAMILY. All of us have faced challenges in our pasts that have made us feel like we were in the dark, but regardless of that, WYA gives you its light by respecting you as a human being, by upholding your dignity as a human being. All the values I needed to learn, I learned from WYA--both from Asia Pacific and New York. It is a privilege to have been and still be a part of WYA. The experience is unforgettable and will surely be a great story to share in the future.

Sincerely,
Juan Miguel San Luis

Manila, Philippines | WYA Asia Pacific

From Janine Tutanes of Manila, Philippines

Dear Friends of the World Youth Alliance,

Hello! My name is Janine Tutanes. I am 22 years old and was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. I graduated from De La Salle University-Manila with a degree in Political Science. After university, I worked as Executive Assistant to the CEO and Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross. This coming June 2014, I will continue my education by attending law school in the Philippines.

I became involved with WYA through a good friend from college. She shared with me the events, projects and programs of the Asia Pacific Office as well as WYA’s stand on issues very relevant during that time in my country. I was attracted to the different ideas in WYA’s training. After a year I applied to the WYA Asia Pacific internship where I received a concrete picture of human dignity, freedom, solidarity, and culture. I also discovered my passion for promoting the dignity of the person.

After graduating from university and working for the Philippine Red Cross, I found myself again applying for a WYA internship, this time at the New York Headquarters. I wanted to contribute my talent and energy to the promotion of human dignity on an international level. During my internship, my main task was to assist with organizing the 11th International Solidarity Forum on ‘The Family: Backbone of Development.’

Working to help organize the ISF pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me to be more detailed-oriented with my work. I learned to be a leader. Working on the ISF made me fully understand the mission and vision of WYA and all that the organization stands for.

During my stay, I also helped with the Manhattan International Film Festival and the WYA 15th Anniversary Ball. The Manhattan International Film Festival showed me that there is beauty in the culture of youth. It showed me the idealism of young people and why we have to work hard to protect it. The WYA Ball opened my eyes to the community that the World Youth Alliance has established over 15 years and I felt blessed to be with WYA.

After living in New York for 3 months, helping to organize the ISF, and meeting so many likeminded youth, I am truly grateful to you and to this organization for giving me an opportunity to give back. Thank you for giving me a chance to hone my passion in promoting human dignity and to contribute to an organization like WYA. I will bring all that I have learned back home to my country and will continue to promote human dignity as I enter a new chapter of my life, studying law in the Philippines.

Yours Sincerely,
Janine Tutanes

Manila, Philippines | WYA Asia Pacific

From Natalie Lam of Singapore

Dear Friend of the World Youth Alliance,

My name is Natalie Lam. I am twenty-eight years old and I’m from Singapore. I graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with a degree in Law (LL.B.). I practiced as a civil and criminal litigation lawyer for two years and I arrived in the USA on 2012. In 2013, I graduated from Georgetown University Law Center with a Masters in Law (LL.M.) in International Legal Studies and International Human Rights.

I became acquainted with WYA through Meghan Grizzle Fischer, the current Research and Policy Specialist at WYA, who introduced me to WYA’s positions on maternal health and sustainable development. I was very impressed by the high quality international legal research seen in the policy papers, but most of all I was very attracted to the positions WYA took on achieving maternal health, sustainable development and addressing HIV/AIDs, which were all supported in international law and were in line with my own convictions.

After meeting Meghan and Anna Halpine in December 2013, I joined the WYA Advocacy Team in February 2014. During these 3 months, I have represented WYA at the United Nations Economic and Social Council Commissions: the Commission on Social and Development (Feb 2014); the Commission on the Status of Women (February 2014); and the Commission on Population and Development (April 2014). During the commissions, I met with delegates of UN Member States and spoke with many of them including Malawi, the Holy See, Malta, Singapore, Zimbabwe, and Jordan on WYA’s positions on issues such as AIDS/HIV and maternal health. I wrote several press releases and blog posts on these commissions. I’ve also been following the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and helped draft WYA’s proposals for the Post-2015 SDG targets, justifications, and indicators. The Advocacy Team and I presented these SDGs proposals to our allied Member States, who have circulated them amongst their groups.

I was also able to participate in WYA’s International Solidarity Forum (ISF) 2014. For the ISF, I prepared the draft declaration that was given to WYA’s members to negotiate a final document that represented all the different geographical regions where WYA is located. It was a great learning experience to participate with like-minded young people and work together to achieve a future that we can all be proud of. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be here in New York City and for all I have learnt since coming to WYA. I’m grateful for being able to live and work with so many young people from around the world who share a similar vision of empowering youth through education and holistic learning. Thank you, WYA Friends, for your contributions and for making this possible.

With warmest regards,
Natalie Lam

Singapore | WYA Asia Pacific

From María José García Manzano of Guadalajara, México

Dear Friend of the World Youth Alliance,

My name is María José García. I am 25 years old, and I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. I am the second in a family of nine siblings. I have been serving as UN Advocacy Fellow for WYA since January of 2014. I received a Law Degree from the Universidad Panamericana in 2011 and a Specialization Degree from the Phoenix Institute in Advanced Social, Economic and Political Studies, after attending three summer seminars at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA, and the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria.

As a lawyer, I have worked in civil litigation, Corporate Law and Notary Law, but I found my real passion in the area of Human Rights and International Law. A close friend introduced me to WYA in 2007, and I fell in love with the organization and its mission. By the following September, we celebrated the opening of the Guadalajara Local Chapter of WYA. The Chapter organized conferences and cultural activities with volunteer students from three universities throughout the course of three years.

I became a WYA National Committee member in 2008, attended my first International Solidarity Forum (ISF) at the UN, and interned for two summers at the Regional Office of WYA Latin America. My experience at the ISF inspired me to apply as a WYA Advocacy Fellow after finishing Law School. I first completed a WYA Advocacy Fellowship from September 2012 until April 2013, with the unique opportunity to see the reality of the UN, actively represent youth, and influence work for the promotion of human dignity.

This winter, I returned to New York as a UN/OAS (Organization of American States) Fellow, organizing the WYA Advocacy Team’s activities at the UN and OAS. I promoted language affirming human dignity during the spring UN commissions, provided legal advice and language amendments to delegation heads, and supported the advocacy work for the OAS General Assembly this coming June.

I also monitored the Post-2015 Development Agenda that will replace the Millennium Development Goals and which aims to eradicate poverty differently from traditional systems of foreign aid. At consultations and meetings with delegations at the UN, I advocated for targets that affirm person-centered development and uphold respect for life and the family.

This experience taught me that there is a hopeful window of opportunity to shape positive change at the United Nations. I am now determined to pursue a career as a human rights legal advisor, influencing public policy in my own country of Mexico.

In solidarity with a great advocacy team and the excellent guidance of WYA Research Policy Specialist Meghan Fischer and WYA Founder Anna, a beautiful stage of my time with WYA will soon come to an end. I will be returning home, carrying with me new members whom I now call “family,” life-lasting friendships, a smile for the fun times, gratitude for the hard times, and invaluable lessons gained from challenge.

This year was special for all of us: a celebration of the WYA’s first 15 years and my seven years of being part of WYA’s family. We happily joined with WYA Staff and interns in the preparation and celebration on WYA’s 15th Anniversary Gala. We could not have made it this far without your support and contribution. Dear Friend: Thank you for allowing us to keep the work for the defense of human dignity!

With sincere gratitude,
María José García Manzano

Guadalajara, México | WYA Latin America

From Fernando Vial of Santiago, Chile

Dear Friend of the World Youth Alliance,

My name is Fernando Vial. I’m 21 years old and I’m from Santiago, Chile. There, I study law at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Before I came to WYA, I completed an internship at Baker & Mckenzie Law Firm in Santiago.

I have been working for five years at a foundation back in Chile, which defends similar ideas as WYA’s. The president of that foundation met WYA when he traveled to the US. I also met a former fellow, Fernando Álvarez, who encouraged me to apply to WYA. My internship has been great: I began the journey in the WYA regional office in Mexico, where I was able to meet the outstanding staff and understand the work WYA did in the regions. After this period I moved to WYA’s headquarters in New York City and started my Advocacy Fellowship.

The whole experience of WYA has been incredible: WYA mixed learning, working and fun all the time. I will never forget the Manhattan International Film Festival, the International Solidarity Forum, the numerous commissions at the UN and the great time we had during WYA’s Global Staff Meetings. I’m still deciding whether to work in the private or the public sphere, but I am confident that no matter which road I take, I will always advocate for human dignity and solidarity.

This whole experience made me grow enormously as a person, as I met these great people from all around the world and worked with them in solidarity for the same cause. I want to thank everyone who made this possible, especially the generous people who provide the means for the World Youth Alliance to be stronger than ever!

Sincerely,
Fernando Vial

Santiago, Chile | WYA Latin America

From Ana Laura Hernández Martínez of Mexico City, Mexico

Dear Friend of the World Youth Alliance,

My name is Ana Laura Hernández. I am 25 years old and I am from México. I attended the Universidad Panamericana and graduated from Law School last summer.

I first met the World Youth Alliance through good friends of mine. I have been very active with WYA since that time because I truly believe in WYA´s work. I completed an internship in the WYA Latin America office where I organized many events and decided to pursue an internship with WYA’s Headquarters because it was an amazing experience!

Here in New York I serve as a WYA Advocacy Fellow, which has given me an invaluable experience in the international field, especially in global policy. I also helped with many events such as the WYA 15th Anniversary Gala, the Manhattan International Film Festival and the International Solidarity Forum. I am so grateful to WYA for this; now I will be able to go back to my country and share all that I have learned with others in my work and in my personal life. The good news has to be shared: especially when it is defending the dignity of the human person.

Thank you for your generosity. The chance to come to New York and see how WYA’s work is made possible, the chance to meet and work with the good people that surround WYA, made me realize that there still is goodness in this world. Every day I wake up in the WYA house, I thank you in my heart because you make all of these incredible things happen. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am asking God that more people may have hearts as generous as yours and I will keep you in my prayers.

Sincerely,
Ana Laura Hernández Martínez

Mexico City | WYA Latin America

From Edward Ablang of Virginia Beach, VA

Dear Friends of the World Youth Alliance,

Hello! My name is Edward Ablang. I am twenty-nine years old, and I hail from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Last May, I received a certificate in philosophy from St. John’s University in New York. I have completed additional studies in Florence, Italy and received a Bachelor of Arts in Classics and Music at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

It was during my recent studies at St. John’s that I was informed about the World Youth Alliance. Naturally, as a philosophy student, I inquired further, curious to know how an organization took on the enterprise of diffusing an inclusive understanding of human dignity across all areas of society worldwide. And now, I am gladly extending my present internship through the next term.

This fall, I was immediately immersed in WYA’s projects on both the regional and international scale, and my experience has benefitted me in two ways. First, spearheading a variety of cultural and educational events allowed me to develop versatility in administration, providing work experience under the reassuring guidance of former WYA interns. Secondly, exposure to the happenings at the UN and other civic institutions revealed to me a dimension of WYA’s invaluable presence, confirming the importance of sustaining its mission in advocacy work.

Both grassroots and policy endeavors are vital to upholding a perspective of life so underappreciated in a world of objectification and materialism. Your support for WYA, regardless of your level of contribution, is fundamental in maintaining our meaningful work to put the human at the core of a universal common good. Know how much we are touched by your solidarity and generosity to help us young people, whether intern or charter member, discover the treasure of genuine altruism – enabling us to rally together globally to promote human dignity! 

Yours Sincerely,
Edward Ablang

Virginia Beach, VA

From Diane Rosales of Makati, Philippines

Dear Friend of the World Youth Alliance,

My name is Diane Rosales, and I’m a twenty-four year old Visual Designer from the Philippines. I am a second-degree graduate of Behavioral Sciences in De La Salle University – Manila and in Multimedia Arts in De La Salle College of Saint Benilde.

My involvement with the World Youth Alliance started when I was a freshman in university. A friend of mine, Lilia Cornelio asked me to create a blog layout for a NGO she was part of. Little did I know that the organization was the World Youth Alliance. Five years after that encounter, Lilia became the Regional Director of Operations for the WYA Asia Pacific region. During that time, I was searching for an internship to fulfill an academic requirement in my secondary degree. Lilia invited me to apply for a regional internship at the WYA Asia Pacific office. At first, I hesitated because I wasn’t really sure how a graphic designer like me could contribute to an NGO closely tied to international and policy affairs. Nevertheless, I applied and was accepted into the internship program in July of 2013. My experience in the regional office was fun and enriching. Aside from the design work for the Asia Pacific office, I was able to work on marketing and branding WYA’s campaigns with the Director of Marketing at WYA’s Headquarters, Emily Dy. I was able to finish my academic requirement ahead of my classmates because of the amount of work that I put into my internship. I had a very positive experience which made me want to apply for the New York internship. At WYA’s headquarters, I continued to work closely with the Director of Marketing. I was also able to work with different staff members on a range of projects which made my internship more fun and holistic.

I’m glad to have met everyone during my internship. From my fellow interns, to the staff, to WYA’s founder, Anna, everyone was down-to-earth and passionate about what they did. The internship not only helped me hone my talents as a designer, but formed me into a better person, too.

Sincerely,
Diane Rosales

Makati City, Philippines | WYA Asia Pacific

From Mary Imbong of Manila, Philippines

Dear Friend of the World Youth Alliance,

Good day! My name is Mary Imbong and I am so pleased to write you this letter of gratitude. I am from the Philippines, and I recently graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University. I majored in Communication, specialized in Video production, and minored in Philosophy (which really prepared me to serve the strong mission of WYA). During summer of 2012 I interned at Summit Media Inc., one of the large magazine publishing companies in our country, and worked under the Digital Department doing video production, while also doing freelance video editing for clients on the side. And just when I thought things couldn’t get any more exciting, I joined the World Youth Alliance.

WYA gave me one of the best summers I ever had. My first entry into the WYA world was when I joined the WYA Asia Pacific (WYAAP) internship. I distinctly remember the feeling of wanting to fly to WYA every morning. I loved the work that I did. Besides the enlightening Track A training lectures, I was thrilled by the many opportunities where I was able to share my skills with co-interns and with other WYA members and guests. We had a lot of projects that allowed us to practice management, creativity, and hospitality whenever we opened our events to the public.

Among many activities, we worked on the Intern-Alumni homecoming project, which I managed, dignity projects, the WYAAP general assemblies and Digni-tea parties. Through the projects we reached out to a lot of new people with WYA’s mission, and were able to share our skills and culture.

One of my favorite events was the First Emerging Leaders Conference we held in Asia Pacific. As part of the planning team, I learned a lot of new things, and improved a lot of my artistic potential through the design and video work I did for the conference. I grew skill-wise and attitude-wise, and it all just felt so fulfilling. The whole process of planning brought our batch of interns closer, which I am very thankful for.

Ending the WYA internship was bittersweet. I still miss the office and wonderful people I shared it with. However, even after the internship, I still feel as welcome at WYA as ever. Thank you so much for all your help and support for the World Youth Alliance. I wish I could better show you how much every inch of your support means to us interns. The experience is life-changing, and is something I would do over and over again.

I am very grateful for your immense generosity. I hope this letter reaches you well, and I hope you now have a clear idea of how much we appreciate and value your generosity and support.

Sincerely,
Mary M Imbong

Manila, Philippines | WYA Asia Pacific

From Zarina San Jose of Manila, Philippines

Dear Friend of the World Youth Alliance,

My name is Ma. Zarina San Jose and I come from Metro Manila, Philippines. I am 21 years old. Last April 2013, I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines Diliman. Right after this I began my training with the World Youth Alliance as an intern in the Asia Pacific (AP) office.

I met WYA through a good friend of mine who was at that time also an intern. She told me about its mission and I found myself very interested with the work WYA does because it is very similar to the values I grew up with and learned both in school and with my family. As an intern for the WYA Asia Pacific office, I handled projects that were close to my interests. I worked on an educational workshop which aims to bring WYA’s principles to less privileged young people in order to help them understand their worth and dignity in the context of their situation. Another project I handled was an “inter-faith” activity wherein we visited different churches to learn more about different religions.

Upon finishing my three-month internship with the Asia Pacific office, I was accepted as an intern for the WYA headquarters office here in New York. I have been helping out a lot with social media and documentation, taking photos and posting updates, especially for our major events like the WYA North America Emerging Leaders Conference and the International Arts Forum. Aside from these, I have also been given opportunities to attend events at the United Nations and see for myself how solidarity works at the international policy level. I have also been helping out with membership drives and WYA’s after-school Human Dignity Curriculum Program. The ability to share WYA’s principles and beliefs with other young people and help them understand is a very worthwhile experience. Coming from a different culture, it’s never easy to relate to the people here, but whenever I go out to attend conferences, events or even just small get-togethers, I am always amazed at the universal applicability of WYA’s principles.

I have now been involved with WYA for almost a year and this has been one of the best experiences of my life, so far. I’m not only referring to the New York internship, but even my time with the AP office. WYA has definitely helped me become more grounded in my beliefs, especially in the ingenuity of the human person. I am now more resolved to dedicate my life to further volunteer activities and to similar work after this internship.

As a graduate of Journalism, I have been taught a lot about the power of words. The beauty of words is its capability to incite action. Through the World Youth Alliance and its grounding in the dignity of the human person, I have found many other young people who believe in the power of words coupled with action. These numerous experiences, both good and bad, have really humbled me and brightened my outlook on life.

All this would not be possible without your help to WYA. We are truly grateful for all the support you are giving to our work. Because of you, so many more young people are learning about the value of the human person and how we can all help in changing our society.

With deepest gratitude,
Ma. Zarina San Jose

Manila, Philippines | WYA Asia Pacific

From Weronika Janczuk of NY, USA

Dear Friend of the World Youth Alliance,

I’m a 21-year old student at New York University. My parents are Polish immigrants, first to Canada and then to the USA, and I grew up among stories of the Polish Solidarity movement and its heroes. I’ve always been curious about the ways ideas shape the ways we live, the beliefs that define us, and the policies that we create and allow to direct our persons and societies. I will graduate this December with a B.A. in The Philosophy of the Human Person−−a self-designed major concerned with personhood in a philosophical, social, and religious context−−and a minor in Religious Studies. The WYA internship program, especially the Track A training, was an outlet for the many ideas I’ve encountered in a very explicit, directed, and delightful way.

I’ve followed WYA and its activities for a few years now, ever since I came to college, and as an intern, I had the unique and special opportunity to work directly with WYA’s founder, Anna Halpine, on projects for WYA’s sister organization, FEMM (Fertility Education & Medical Management), which is concerned with offering women a knowledge- and science-based approach to their reproductive and general healthcare. I did a significant amount of research on topics for the forthcoming white paper about FEMM, helped rewrite and reorganize educational materials for FEMM training, and assisted with some behind-the-scene details for the launch of the first FEMM clinic in the USA at Ohio State University. It was wonderful to see the way a new project like this arises, and the ways in which so many components need to be coordinated in order to make it effective. I look forward to taking everything I learned, about research, writing, marketing, directing, and planning; about a person-centric working environment; and about the ideas that animate WYA and its work with me as I hunt for a job in which I can apply all this varied experience.

My heart is most grateful for all of the support, financial and likewise, that enables this organization’s work. If ideas matter, WYA is indispensable to a culture that seems to have one too many misconceptions.

With sincerest thanks,
Weronika Janczuk

NYC, USA | WYA NA

Since this letter was drafted, Weronika has assumed a full time staff position with FEMM as Editorial Assistant.