A Leap of Faith Brought Me to WYA

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.


My first involvement with WYA: 2017 Summer Camp

Joining WYA has opened so many possibilities. I realized that there is the possibility of doing more, and WYA showed me the way to do it. Because of this organization, I was able to name the hollow feeling I had before: volunteerism. And I have never stopped since.

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. 

WYA is an organization that helped me find a purpose and a passion. It gave me my a “why” and the opportunity to connect and bond with different people from all over the world, some whom I consider to be my closest friends.

With the WYAAP Staff and my co-facilitators! Became a Camp Facilitator in 2018, a year after becoming a Certified Member 🙂

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.