The moment I received an email asking me to write about WYA International Summer Camp, I knew immediately that I would write about how much fun we had, how incredible it was to meet so many people from all over the world, and how amazing the camp was overall. However, I also knew that I had to talk about what an incredible, life-changing experience this was for me, and how it has impacted my life.
I came to camp expecting to have fun and to learn a little more about the meaning and importance of human dignity. (I mean, what is it really?) By the end of camp, I knew that human dignity means that everyone has worth and value. Not only that, I learned so much more about human rights, solidarity, HIV/AIDS, population and development, and freedom. I learned how we could go about preventing some of the world’s problems, instead of just reducing the risk of them happening. I learned that we could reduce maternal mortality rates just by giving people basic equipment and educating them. I learned about “freedom from” and “freedom for,” and how if everyone in the world used their freedom for the common good, the world could be changed forever. I learned that in finding a solution for poverty we should always treat people as the solution, not the problem. I also learned that people working in solidarity could make an enormous impact on the world. I could fill a book with all the fascinating things I learned, and I feel like I’m about to burst with all of this knowledge. I have to go and tell my friends all about this amazing view on life that I came home with. I learned so much, and it has changed my life, as well as my view on life, forever.
The entire camp was a combination of learning all of these amazing things, but also having fun! Have you ever ridden a four-person bicycle? Found a wizard in central park? Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge? I hadn’t until I came to WYA. We played mind games, Mafia, and participated in a laugh-until-you-cry talent show. From a huge scavenger hunt in which we ran around Central Park for 4 hours, to a traditional dance night (I now know the basics of swing dancing, the Virginia reel, and several African dances), it was such an amazing, enjoyable experience.
Of course, half the fun was that I was doing this all with newfound friends from all over the world. I met people from Austria, Albania, the Philippines, Africa and Italy. We easily became friends and found that we had quite a bit in common, despite our differences in age or where we came from. We could all relate to each other.
Do you want to know another reason WYA was so awesome? The counselors, who are some of the most enthusiastic, inspiring people I have ever met. They taught us, answered our questions, baffled us with riddles, and thought up creative ways to wake us up in the morning. They helped us with all the activities, made us laugh, and were such amazing role models. It was so much fun to be around them, and I found them to be truly inspiring people.
Now, you’re probably wondering, how is all of this supposed to change my life? What’s so amazingly unique about this camp? Here’s the answer. Dignity. You learn that every person has dignity, and that dignity is universal, intrinsic and inalienable. That means that everyone has it, no matter where they come from or who their parents were. It is always with us, from conception to natural death, and it can never be taken away. Isn’t that so amazing? And because all have dignity, all have value and worth. Everyone should be treated equally. Now, if only the entire world thought that way, imagine how much that could impact the world. With that knowledge and understanding of human dignity, you could change the world. So, do you want to learn more about the meaning of human dignity? Do you want to learn how you can change the world? Come to WYA International Summer Camp next summer, and I can promise you that it will change your life, just like it mine, forever.
By Sophia Harne, a WYA International Summer Camp Participant