I found the WYA Coordination for Youth Workers training to be extremely interesting and I learnt a large amount. I became aware that it is vitally necessary to promote human dignity and solidarity. In turn individuals must stand up for people who are unable to have their voices heard, in order to empower them and promote advantage in their life.
One such example has been that of Malala Yousafzai who has used her platform to change society for the better and to empower others. The training taught me that it is important to take a ‘global’ approach that transgresses boundaries and localities. I am passionate about breaking the cycle of disadvantage that I believe is largely embedded throughout global society. For example, in the United Kingdom Ofsted found that the poorest students in England were nine times more likely to be inadequate secondary schools compared to their counterparts. I believe this is a major concern and educational immobility must be broken both within the UK and in other nations around the world.
WYA communicated to me many tools that can be utilised in order to promote their beliefs. Every day the training was beneficial looking at ‘why, what, how and now’. Also it was great to have an international cohort at the training in order to garner many different viewpoints forming a range of perspectives each with their unique beliefs and country specific information. This was truly important as it allowed a more comprehensive learning approach and it was fascinating taking a country specific lens on various issues.
One way this was done was through looking at the White Papers, which laid out an explicit policy issue and sought to engage in arguments surrounding the topic. The paper on assisted suicide and euthansia gave an illuminating case as to the advantages and disadvantages of a right to life approach. The study broke the topic down and the viewpoints were clearly evident, with WYA taking an end of life approach which respected human dignity and advocating for the use of more palliative care measures. I found the reading the White Papers very interesting as policy is something that I am passionate about.
The whole programme was significantly valuable and instilled in me a great desire to promote WYA and work alongside the organisation. It showed me how literally anyone can change society for the better and how advocacy is key in order to shift the status quo. In the world today, someone like Greta Thunberg is inspirational due to both her age and more importantly her message that is simplified and is garnering attention from the masses and from policymakers.
Additionally, campaigns like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo are influential and are able to truly shift public opinion, promoting their values into the mainstream. These campaigns illustrated the fact that the little people can revolt and the masses can place pressure challenging existing norms and values. Learning about how to utilise the media specifically TV and newspapers was crucial during the programme. It showed me how important different forms of communication are in order to promote the message that is trying to be conveyed. The media training was useful as I learnt the mechanisms of how to get a message across and in turn being affirmative and focusing on positive values whereby there would be a slogan, argument, call to action and then to repeat the slogan. I found valuable the two parts of advocacy namely that of the ‘what’ (research/art/science/content/product) and then the how (art/communication/sales pitch).
My vision for WYA UK 2020 is that it is very important for WYA to gain more recognition in the UK. It is a great way to promote international solidarity among the world’s youth and to promote unity around the world regardless of locality. This unity is something that can be so often be forgotten in times where there is so much difference. Something like Brexit distinguishes the UK in a largely negative light away from its international peers and WYA seeks to change this and promotes harmony among nation states. I would like to model the UK based on WYA Croatia which has become a large success. I think first it is necessary to create events in order to publicise an understanding of WYA in the UK. From this, I feel that we can have an official chapter which could thus run alongside 80 other chapters around the world. Throughout the UK chapter of the WYA, it is vital to promote advocacy, education and culture. These three strands are at the cornerstone of the WYA mechanism. I look forward to being a great part of the WYA for many years to come and promoting their values to the youth of today and tomorrow.
Published: January 2, 2020
Written by Daniel Lemer, Events Coordinator at World Youth Alliance United Kingdom