For the past four months, I have had the wonderful opportunity of working as an intern here at the World Youth Alliance Headquarters in New York City. Not only have I grown intellectually and professionally during my time here, but also been challenged to open my mind and expand my horizons through the people I have met and worked with. One of the gifts of working here is interacting with and learning from intelligent and talented young people from around the globe and forming lasting friendships. Whether it was great discussions on the situation in Europe or attending commissions at the United Nations; traveling to Washington State to share about WYA with youth or learning about the Rwandese, Italian, Lebanese, Polish, Mexican, or Filipino cultures from our staff; attending the March for Life or participating in our International Solidarity Forum with WYA members from throughout the world; welcoming young filmmakers for our International Film Festival or hosting a night of Argentine Tango; the experiences and lessons I have had here at the World Youth Alliance have been invaluable. As I take the next step into graduate school in International Development, the training and formation I have had at WYA have provided me with a crucial foundation and the needed tools to understand development with the human person, his dignity and his creativity, as its heart and soul.
Becoming part of the World Youth Alliance is becoming part of a community of people who not only recognize the value and beauty of each person, but who live this understanding in their interaction and friendship with each individual person they encounter. The community aspect of WYA, despite cultural differences and language barriers, came alive for me during our week-long staff meetings in April. Each day, a different region, be it Latin America, Middle East, Asia Pacific, Africa, Europe or North America, would prepare a meal of their culture, which would invite discovering a bit more about their countries & homes. While it was wonderful food and a fun way to learn more about our various regions, more importantly these dinners were opportunities to build friendships with unique & generous people who invest their time, attention, and care in the people around them.
To build a culture of dignity, does it not start with treating each person you meet with profound respect and kindness? So as I close these four months at WYA, I am thankful for all of these many opportunities and experiences, but most especially for learning how to value more truly each person I meet.
By Lenore Healy, North American Intern