When I first came to Lebanon, I was constantly looking for opportunities to integrate into the active youth society. One day, as I was going through my newsfeed on Facebook, I came across an event entitled “Arab Emerging Leaders Forum: The Impact of the Arab Spring on Youth”. Eager to know more about the event and to see by whom the event was organized, I came across the name “World Youth Alliance” which immediately captured my attention. When I attended the forum in December 2015, I was impressed by the active participants and the friendly staff of WYA Middle East office. Speaking to them afterwards, they informed me about the WYA training and internship programs, and I realized that they were exactly what I had been looking for.
Around two months later, I found myself in the WYAME office, sharing a table with a diverse and interesting group of interns whom I now consider friends. During the course of three months, we received resourceful trainings over topics ranging from effective presentation to project management and fundraising. Most importantly, however, we were given the opportunity to apply the knowledge we received into practice through the three cultural events and activities that we organized as a team.
Our first event, a special screening of the movie 3000 Nights by Mai Masri, was both a fundraising and a cultural event at the same time. We decided to screen this film in order to raise funds for our final event. However, we purposefully chose 3000 Nights for its close relation to WYA’s mission and values as we aimed to raise awareness about human rights and human dignity. The film, which tells the story of a young Palestinian schoolteacher who gives birth to her son in an Israeli prison where she fights to survive, highlights a sad reality that not so many people know about. The event was eventually a wonderful experience as we also held a question & answer session with the film director who gave the audience a better insight into the movie’s themes and topic.
For our second event, we visited the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL). We wanted to use our opportunity to make the center’s children happy and to also inform them about human rights and human dignity. The children were as young as five years old, so we spent time getting to know each other by coloring and playing games with them. The children became the happiest when we started singing an Arabic song called ““It is my right for the world to hear my words”” that we had taken with us, through which we were able to introduce the WYA values to them. The cultural activity at the CCCL was a truly unique and heartwarming experience that I’ll never forget.
The public talk, “The State of Refugees in Lebanon”, was our third event which was completely different from the first two, and required more preparation. As a Syrian myself, this event was particularly dear to my heart as Lebanon currently hosts around 1.1 million Syrian refugees, adding to them a large number of Palestinian refugees as well. Our guest speaker delivered an interesting talk about the situation of refugees in Lebanon, focusing on the role of humanitarian NGOs in providing support to refugees. The talk was followed by an engaging roundtable discussion that raised and answered a diverse set of questions and concerns. We were happy with the results of the event because were able to create a platform for discussion and to promote human rights by shedding light on a very important topic.
The internship program at WYAME, through its Certified Training Program and the other training workshops and events, increased my knowledge of human rights, dignity and many other areas. For this, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Regional Director, Jessica Hallak, and to Regional Director of Operations, Laura El Khoury, who are the key forces behind this great organization and who were always there to motivate and guide us. Most importantly, I would like to thank Ms. Anna Halpine for starting this wonderful organization that unifies and echoes the voices of thousands of young people around the world. My journey as a WYAME intern has ended, but I now consider myself a part of the global WYA family, eager to join its future initiatives!
Written by Hovsep Markarian, a regional intern at the WYA Middle East office in Lebanon.