I was never really good at P.E. I always found running and jogging hard. Volleyball, soccer, and basketball as seemed like complex equations that I could never seem to find the formulas for. However, the one physical activity I always found fun was jumping. It was a more effective way to get from place to place, and there was always a thrill in the split second you’re in the air and before you land. Joining the World Youth Alliance felt a lot like that.
The political and social climate of the Philippines was at its peak when I was 17. Extrajudicial killings, unfair treatment, and the abuse of human dignity was at an all time high and was often the topic during classes. As I began to see all that was happening in the country, I began to feel a sense of unease. With each news article being published, I began to ask myself “What can I do?” I was a young person who wanted to do something, who wanted to learn more, but the difficult thing was I didn’t know where to start. I was constantly bothered by this hollow feeling of wanting to do more.
Then came the opportunity of the World Youth Alliance Asia Pacific (WYAAP) Summer Camp. All throughout high school, I was always introverted and shy. I never really joined any extra-curriculars and discourse with others. I knew that there was a WYA Chapter in my school but I never joined. So when my friend asked me to join the WYAAP Summer Camp in 2017, I was reluctant to apply. I had no prior experience with an organization of this scale and I was painfully shy. Despite those fears, I knew what WYA stood for and found that I had the same views and beliefs. After sending in my application, a twist of fate happened. My friend messaged me saying that she could not go (two days before the last day of application). As an introvert, I immediately panicked. How was I supposed to survive a week with strangers?. But at the end of the day I was presented with two choices. I could back out of my application and spend summer the way I always have or I could try something completely new and different, even if it was scary. As a person who always wonders about “what ifs”, I decided to take this opportunity and jump into the unknown. And there hasn’t been a single second where I was not grateful for the opportunity.
That one week during the WYAAP Summer camp started a (hopefully) lifelong romance with volunteer work. It was through WYA that I was able to find my passion in serving others. WYA gave me the gentle push I needed to help me improve my confidence, leadership, and social skills. It’s fair to say that WYA has helped shape me to be the person I am now. When I was wondering which courses to take for college, I kept going back to a concept mentioned during one of WYA’s discussions in the Certified Training Program, specifically Chapter 3 on Freedom. Your “why” is the reason why you keep going, the reason why you do what you do. This “why” is what drove me to choose a course that would help me understand society, in the hopes of making it better.
It may have the same structure as other organizations, but it will always stand out and have a special place in my heart for simply being the organization that started it all for me. As I am writing this, I am currently a Regional Intern for the WYA Asia Pacific Office– another jump into the unknown that I have no regrets in taking. Volunteerism and service. Joining WYA may seem daunting and you may be nervous to see what’s on the other side, but trust me when I say that it is a leap of faith worth taking.
Published: November 20, 2020
Written by Isabel Gengos, Certified WYA Member and current WYA Asia Pacific Regional Intern
Know more about the WYAAP Regional Internship here.