Emerging Leaders Conference

The Emerging Leaders United States Policy Seminar that took place at the WYA house from January 29 to January 31, was a complete success. With speeches and presentations from eight distinguished speakers, this conference, according to the attendees, was both entertaining and informative.

The first day of the conference boasted talks and workshops from the President of WYA, Mary Halpine, acting Ambassador of Costa Rica Jorge Ballestero, managing editor and anchorman of WKYC – TV NBC Dick Russ, and Karen Tilli, representative of Food for the Hungry.

Mary Halpine started off the conference with a speech on authentic human development based on WYA’s stance and offered an inaugural ode to the conference. Jorge Ballestero gave a fascinating talk human dignity and international affairs. Ballestero was well received and offered a different brand of outlook on human dignity and personal experience at the United Nations, due to the fact that he is currently preparing to leave the United Nations and return to his home country of Costa Rica after serving six years. Dick Russ, NBC anchorman, provided an interesting perspective on how the media can have a vast affect on world events. He discussed several methods of the use of media in his talk. He then gave a workshop in which he played a more participatory role with the attendees of the conference. He was well received and very informative.

After many talks and much learning, the night of the first day of the conference there was a party. Everyone danced, ate food and enjoyed time together to end the day.

With the enormous success of the first day of the conference, everyone was excited to see what the second day would bring; it did not disappoint. With more excellent speakers, the conference was only getting better. The second day hosted speakers, Maggie Gallagher, Abraham Lee, Shoaib Harris, and Casey Downing. The first speech of the morning was a phenomenal look at the family and authentic human development from Maggie Gallagher. Her talk was excellent and only got better with the workshop that followed. Her workshop focused on gender and family and quickly became more of a question and answer time in which the attendees were very enthusiastic about her and asked many excellent questions. Following Mrs. Gallagher, we heard from Abraham Lee, a representative from the Human Trafficking department of the United States State Department.

The conference concluded with a talk on youth development priorities and WYA’s outlook on human development and outreach from Casey Downing (WYA’s North American Director). The speech was an excellent way to conclude the conference, providing a positive and inspiring outlook on human development in our own communities.

This conference will be a great launch for some of the work WYA is planning for 2009. All of the students were excited and challenged by the seminar, and look forward to promoting dignity in their own communities, and in small, everyday ways.

Philip Waggoner – World Youth Alliance, USA