Chapter 1: My WYA Story

Four days could really make a difference. I proved that statement when my friends and I joined the first ever Chapter Leadership Training or CLT here in the city of Iloilo in the Philippines.

When I first heard about WYA, I was immediately interested in what they do. Maybe that’s the reason why when my friend asked if I was willing to join a training under WYA and be a member, I said yes with no hesitation or reservations.

I was really excited and hyped with the idea of joining this training  that I forgot the “in-betweens.” I forgot that I am still undergoing the Certified Training Program (CTP), and I’m not that confident when talking about the readings in the manual. I also forgot that I actually have no idea of what’s going to happen in the CLT. I also forgot that everybody attending that training already knew each other because they had been active in WYA longer than my friends and I have.

Rance, my partner, and I during one of our “elevator pitch” exercise.

But the CLT marked my first ever WYA experience. Our group wasn’t that big. There were only twelve of us who joined the training, and Bonds Co-Working Space was a really good place for this small group of ours. We could just easily exchange ideas with one another, handover materials, and share meals. All these may sound unimportant, but these little things actually played a big role in creating our bonds with each other. The activities were really fun! It made us think critically and creatively. It made us do things we don’t usually like to do like public speaking and watching ourselves in a video. And I think that’s the best part of it because WYA gave us a reason to go out of our comfort zones and grow.

I was even pleasantly surprised when my Math teacher gave us a lecture on effective communication, while my Social Sciences teacher also gave a workshop on managerial etiquette. Since we are planning to start our own chapter in our school, the lectures could really serve as our guide in making this possible. It wasn’t just educational but it was also practical.

Our advocacy training and CTP review solidified my reasons to stay in WYA and continue my journey. Knowing all those facts and information made me see the reality and how harsh the world is. It ignited the fire in me to burn brighter and bigger to make a difference in my own way.

We weren’t able to join any WYA event before this, so others already built relationships and as we were just starting ours. Probably this is the reason why I was hesitant in coming in early in the venue during the first day of training since I was scared to feel out of place. Just like any other newbie, my friends and I just stayed in just one corner before the training started.

My friends, Owe and Maio, and I were still very shy on our first day!

However, all my doubts and hesitations vanished when our fellow trainees started talking to us. They were so warm and welcoming that it didn’t feel like it was my “first day” in WYA at all. They didn’t make us feel like we were outsiders. We actually felt like somehow, we belong. Despite our differences and the limited time, we got to know each other and I realized that at the end of the day we all share one common goal and that is to defend the dignity of every human being. While writing this, all I can do is smile because I know this is just the start of my WYA story and I know that there are so much more happy and exciting things to come!

My new family!

Written by Mary Hope Abilo, member of the WYA Iloilo Chapter in the Philippines. She and two of her friends are currently completing their CTP to be able to open WYA Chapter in their school.