A Priceless Gift

Blog Entry 1- AnicaOn June 13, I co-organized this year’s second WYAAP Sulong Workshop along with my fellow interns. The Sulong Workshop is a year-long series of workshops designed to educate selected youth on human dignity in all its manifestations. This year, World Youth Alliance Asia Pacific partnered with the S.O.S. Children’s Villages Philippines, the local branch of a non-governmental international organization that works to prevent family breakdown by taking in children who have been orphaned, neglected, abandoned, or placed in extremely difficult circumstances and providing them with homes and families. Here, the children have S.O.S. Mothers and other staff members of the village to ensure they are provided for, loved, cared, supported, and encouraged to be productive citizens in society as they grow up.

Before we started the program, I was able to speak with some of the participants who already registered early in the morning. I found out that one of them was leaving for Hong Kong for a scholarship program in a few months, the third from their village to study abroad. One of the staff members of S.O.S. Children’s Villages shared that they are very proud of their kids because they’re known to be proactive and to go out of their way to look for scholarship grants like the Hong Kong program to further their studies and pursue their dreams.

I thought it was very inspiring to meet these young leaders. At such a young age, they understand the importance of education, and they know that the only way their dreams can become a reality is through action, no matter what circumstance may hinder them in any way.

It was a small experience, but one that really touched me. A few weeks later, I came across an online video of a lecture given by Victor Frankl, an Austrian psychologist and Holocaust survivor, in 1972. I couldn’t help but remember the children from the Sulong Workshop.

In the video, Frankl introduced a method that pilots use when flying aircrafts, called ‘crabbing’. He explains that when there are crosswinds, pilots don’t fly the aircraft in a straight line toward the destination because the aircraft will drift away and veer off course. Instead, pilots fly the aircraft away from the straight path, against the crosswinds in a sort of curve, so that the crosswinds end up pushing the aircraft towards the target destination.

Why was Frankl talking about this? He believes this method should also hold for man. He explained that if this principle was applied to the way we viewed others, that is, if we look at others as simply who they are in their current state, then that is all they will ever be (or even worse). However, if we look at other people and see them for all that they want to be and can become—for their dreams and aspirations—then we promote them and make them capable of aiming higher and reaching their dreams, make them capable of being who they are meant to be.

Essentially, Frankl says that we should be idealistic rather than realistic, optimistic, and overestimating of others. The same goes for ourselves; if we doubt ourselves and underestimate our capabilities, we minimize our chances of reaching our dreams, but if we allow ourselves to achieve excellence, then we are bound to accomplish something. It is this gift of recognizing man’s search for meaning and purpose that is the greatest thing we can give to others and ourselves.

By Veronica Araneta, intern at the WYA Asia Pacific office.