As summer begins in New York, so does the journey for 12 young adults as they commence their three month internship and externship at the World Youth Alliance headquarters. A mixed group, this internship batch includes diverse personalities and Spanish, American, Dominican, Italian, Canadian, Russian, Ugandan, and Kenyan nationalities! Yet, all share a common goal: the desire to further their understanding and promotion of human dignity.
With this ideal firmly in the hearts of each, the start of the summer means the implementation of this belief into several projects; primarily, the International Summer Camp, an event the interns always enjoy organizing and executing. They will also coordinate other fundraising and networking events, and participate in some of WYA’s important training events, the most recent being the woman’s health comprehensive training program, FEMM.
These varied group of interns – Albert, Yustina, Gabriela, Pavel, Anna, Rebecca, Meagan, Barbara, Sarah, Katie, Natasha, and Maria-Louisa – are ready to take on the heat of the city and the challenge of educating and promoting WYA’s mission.
Albert was born in Barcelona, Spain. He is currently studying International Relations in the University of Navarra. Albert is passionate about languages, traveling, geopolitics, political philosophy, international relations and the human person. During his free time, he enjoys reading great books, running and spending time with friends.
In Spain, he is involved in a think tank in which students learn to work and write as real researchers. He also works to promote awareness on the refugee crisis in Pamplona by collaborating with an organization called ‘Agrupación Universitaria por el Oriente Medio’ (AUNOM). In his residence hall, he has been in charge of organizing several series of conferences.
The key, he says, is to always maintain the equilibrium and find some time for silence every day. Regarding WYA, Albert “finds it amazing to have the opportunity to work for an organization whose main objective is to preserve and promote human dignity. This internship will also allow us to meet people coming from all around the world, widening our cultural understanding and opening our minds.”
Yustina is of Austrian and Dominican background, and was raised in the Dominican Republic. She is completing a double major in Law and Political Science in the University of Action Pro Education and Culture (APEC), and the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD).
Yustina enjoys drama, especially participating in plays promoting political consciousness. These political messages have been televised and performed on the most important stages of her home country. She graduated as an actress from the National School of Fine Arts, and is passionate about the use of art as a means to help people develop and defend human dignity.
Her experience as a language teacher has made her keen on using teaching as a tool to raise awareness and defend the universal value of human life.
In seeing poverty in the Dominican Republic everyday, she was able to encounter firsthand how class inequality and injustice are generally normalized in underdeveloped countries. The desire to fix many of these issues in the face of apparent impotence motivated her to be part of the World Youth Alliance Summer Internship.
Gabriela, known as Gabby, was born and raised in the United States, but currently lives in Pamplona, Spain where she is pursuing a degree in Economics, Leadership, and Governance. She has always had a passion for understanding social issues, especially those involving human rights, the pornography industry, and education. She is currently a writer for Fight The New Drug, a non-religious non-profit that aims to educate on the harms of pornography.
A mission trip to the Dominican Republic for two months instilled in her the belief of the need to advocate for human dignity and a better understanding of the human person. This led her to discover the World Youth Alliance in her second year at the University of Navarra. Motivated by WYA’s ideas, she was thrilled to take part in the CTP and become a certified member. Gabby is especially interested in the intersection of rights and politics and hopes to pursue a career in this area. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and conversational in French. She loves to watch documentaries and TED talks, bake, and play music with friends and family.
Pavel was born in Saint Petersburg. When he was five years old, he moved with his family to Spain, to a city called Girona, located 100 km north of Barcelona. There, he completed middle and high school.
After high school, he moved to Barcelona to study Business Administration in the University of Barcelona, where he is currently finishing his second year. Apart from his degree studies, he likes to spend his free time learning more within the field of the new technologies. He volunteers to help provide food for the homeless community in Barcelona, and works with an organization called “Nasco Feeding Minds” that organizes an annual solidarity race, the proceeds of which are destined to building schools in Africa.
Pavel is very curious, and loves to discover different places, especially through his travels to cities within Spain and in Europe. He discovered the World Youth Alliance because of a friend, and inspired by the cause, decided to participate further in WYA’s activities. He is very excited to complete the WYA internship in New York this summer.
Anna is a 24-year-old from Rome, Italy. She has two younger brothers and comes from a typical “Italian” family, with lots of cousins, aunts and uncles. She is finishing up her Master’s in Educational and Developmental Psychology at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome, with the intention of working with children and educators in the future. Last year, she had a transformative experience while spending a month with twenty adolescents, ages 10-18, in a Polish foster home.
She is a creative and enthusiastic person who loves sharing her free time with friends, playing guitar and, in February, planning carnival theme parties. She has always been involved in parish activities, such as summer camps and catechesis. These experiences have led to her growing interest in social matters. What she has learned about human nature, primarily due to her parents’ relationship, is the importance of a “free-of-charge-love”: to love and to be loved in return is the key to happiness. With WYA, she’s eager to put this love to the service of others.
Rebecca was born and raised in the United States. She has seven siblings, and two dogs. She has danced ballet since she was five years old. She moved to Chicago and New York City to pursue a career in ballet. In Chicago, she danced at Ballet Chicago and in New York at the School of American Ballet. At 19, she held a professional contract with Minnesota Ballet for a year. After a few years of performing in Chicago, she decided to quit ballet and attend college. She attends Benedictine College, and is seeking a degree in Evangelization and Catechesis with a minor in Philosophy. She has served on the Retreat Team at Benedictine, as well as several other volunteer opportunities in her community.
She discovered the World Youth Alliance at Benedictine College through the Emerging Leaders Conference, and knew that the opportunity of completing an internship was one she couldn’t miss. She is excited to work for the World Youth Alliance and to promote a better world through a better understanding of what it means to be a person.
Meagan is a rising senior studying Literature at Northeast Catholic College. Her education has brought her to consider many questions: What does it mean to be a human person? What does human flourishing look like, and how are we responsible towards another’s flourishing? These questions ultimately brought to the World Youth Alliance.
Currently, Meagan is the Vice President of the WYA New Hampshire chapter, and has been involved with WYA since the beginning of her junior year. She has helped coordinate her campus’ hosting of the 2017 Emerging Leaders Conference, as well as crafted different events for the future so that WYA can be more accessible to students on campus. After participating in the 2018 International Solidarity Forum on Bioethics, she knew she wanted to continue being involved with WYA’s mission. This led her to commit to intern with World Youth Alliance this summer. While here, Meagan is also going to be taking the FEMM Teaching Training course in order to begin the groundwork towards implementing FEMM into her collegiate community’s resident life program. Apart from an interest in social justice and solidarity, she is an avid fan of Tolkien, Flannery O’Connor, T.S. Eliot, watercolor painting, yogi tea, and Stranger Things.
Barbara is from Toronto, Canada, where she grew up with her parents, four sisters, and cat. She has recently completed her second year of undergraduate studies at McGill University in Montreal and is finishing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian Literature at the University of Toronto.
She is a graduate of the Francis de Sales Centre, an independent secondary school in downtown Toronto that offers a classical curriculum. Barbara’s classical education and love of literature has instilled in her a desire for continual exploration of what it means to be a human.
So, when she heard about WYA through a family connection, she was eager to get involved. She was especially excited about the prospect of working with WYA because of the opportunity to meet and work alongside other young people who care deeply about the human person. Barbara has worked in a dance studio, a bakery, and a Canadian advocacy group in her home city. She is excited to spend the summer in New York as WYA intern!
Sarah is a junior biochemistry and philosophy major at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan. She leads a community health volunteer program with initiatives in end-of-life care, women’s and children’s health, and grassroots-based public health. She has previously worked as a nursing assistant, a youth worker in inner-city Detroit, and most recently as an intern with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Bioethics. Sarah aspires to work as a physician and public policy bioethicist in the future.
Last summer, she had the opportunity to work as a nursing assistant and care for elderly and dying patients. These experiences, which she was gaining while undergoing the Certified Training Program, provided a new context in which she was able to understand the concepts within the CTP. They offered her daily and tangible examples of what it truly means to participate in a human community characterized by vulnerability, respect, and mutual trust. As she washed the bodies of the dead, the sometimes amorphous talk of dignity became concrete.
For her, World Youth Alliance serves as a reminder to place the person at the center of every human activity; a reminder that any person, organization, or body can apply to their work at any and every level of human society.
Katie Douglas is a rising junior at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, originally from Monticello, IL. She is currently studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and plans to pursue graduate school in some form in the future. On campus, she works as a research assistant in the Arthur Lab for cancer epidemiology, survivorship, and nutrition and will begin serving as a resident advisor in the fall of 2018. In her free time, Katie enjoys running, listening to a podcast, or sipping a latte.
Katie’s work has focused on assisting with FEMM, WYA’s affiliate women’s health program, which she is very excited to be a part of. She is currently taking the teacher training course for FEMM, and recently attended the Medical Management training in New York. Her work as an extern this summer will consist of writing research profiles on different reproductive conditions and struggles that women face and, how FEMM can be an answer or aid to them. Through her work with FEMM this summer, Katie hopes to continue to provide women with empowering knowledge about their reproductive and overall health.
Maria-Louisa is a twenty-three-year-old Kenyan native and is currently studying Law at Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya. She enjoys work related to International Human Rights Law, Humanitarian Law, Diplomacy, International Relations and Policy Making. She hopes to complete a master’s program in one of these branches. She is very passionate about human rights, especially in the African continent, where she believes they still have a long way to positively realize several fundamental rights.
Apart from studying, she enjoys sports, especially tennis, as well as singing and acting. She has performed in Kenya on many occasions. She loves traveling, meeting new people, and spending time with her family.
She first learned about the World Youth Alliance through her university. She has worked with WYA in Nairobi on various projects, and is currently an Advocacy Intern. Her primary focus as such is on advocating for the human dignity of the person and how it can be actively realized through laws in treaties and declarations in bodies such as the United Nations.
Natasha is a third-year Law student at Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya. She was born and partly raised in Uganda, though is originally from Rwanda. Her areas of interest include: Human Rights, International Law, Constitutional and Intellectual Property Law- fields in which she hopes to make valuable contributions in East Africa. Natasha is also a lover of words who, outside of her academic life, is a writer, spoken-word poet and performance artist. Her work explores the diverse African experience- as a beautiful part of the larger human experience- and aims to build lasting bridges across cultures and contexts on the continent and beyond.
Natasha’s passion for approaching Law with a human-sensitive perspective led her to the World Youth Alliance, which had struck her as an authentic person-centered organisation. She believes WYA has proved this to be true, by far. Natasha is inspired everyday by the spirit, dedication and friendship she experiences at WYA, and looks forward to every part of the rest of the journey.