Experiencing solidarity, joy and love in Krakow

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As a member of the World Youth Alliance delegation to the recently concluded 2016 World Youth Day (WYD) celebration in Krakow, I’d like to share some of our powerful and inspiring experiences of solidarity, joy and love. 13754108_177116179371496_8357703761038078338_n_zpsu9seiadf

The Philippines, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Ireland and Germany were represented by the WYA delegation for the World Youth Day 2016. Our team traveled for many hours by van to Poland with the clear goals of raising awareness among the pilgrims about their pivotal role in promoting and defending the dignity of the human person and spreading the word about WYA’s work and projects that WYA offers to young people when they sign the WYA Charter. At the of the event, over 2,300 new members became WYA members.

Enthusiasm, happiness, motivation, fatigue, heat, rain, hours of road trip, teamwork, kindness and family: These are just some of the words that would describe our unforgettable, exciting and meaningful journey during the World Youth Day event.

WYA’s participation during the WYD had two parts. First, we recruited new WYA members from the WYD pilgrims through a booth set-up at the Krakow City center and by talking to different groups while they were patiently waiting for the different events and activities during the youth festival. We also brought with us our WYA Mascot Wyanda (you can be friends with her in Facebook), who became the star of so many good moments bringing us a significant number of new members. The second part was a presentation during the WYD Youth Festival titled Leadership lessons from John Paul II. WYA President Lord Leomer Pomperada and WYA Europe Director of Advocacy Antoine Mellado introduced WYA and talked about the inspiring lessons of leadership and freedom from the life and writings of Saint John Paul II. Both initiatives helped us in reaching out to so many young people, who were very excited to see our WYA Mascot Wyanda but most of all to be engaged in our work and become Human Dignity Defenders.

Participating at the World Youth Day makes an enormous13872933_177564445993336_3349668143891473277_n_zpsho9myfkt difference in one person’s life. It is reaffirming for the values of young people to see this tremendous celebration of  life, faith and God. Inspired by our great WYA team, many young people decided to become WYA members to unite with us under a common cause to stand up for life and the dignity of each and every human person. Young people around the world truly have this great commitment and transformative power to making the world a better place for everyone.

It has been an incredible experience to see all the positive and enthusiastic responses from the young pilgrims that we met during the week long event. They gave us an opportunity to realize  that no matter where you came from or what cultural background you may have, there will be always universal and common values that tie us closer to each other.

Imagine a community where everyone understands that they share the same human dignity, stands together for true freedom, and believes in the great power and greatness that they posses to make a difference in the world. Seeing the great faith and solidarity among pilgrims during WYD made me believe that it is truly possibly to change the world.

We were very grateful and blessed to be hosted by a wonderful Polish family in Kozlow. Mr. and Mrs. Jacek and Ewa Danioł shown us great hospitality, kindness and generosity. From the warm and cozy beds, traditional Polish food, hot shower and warm atmosphere filled with love and support – every small gesture and action proved their enormous heart and goodness. We loved them from the very beginning until the end. It felt like being  taken care of and blessed with every single moment. Don’t get me wrong, every home has definitely so much to offer, but being offered everything unconditionally with love is a real marvel. We 13770318_10208779561358721_7437242334094053226_n_zpseufyeeuhwere so privileged and thankful at the same time.

Professor Jozef Bremer, a rector at the University Ignatianum in Krakow, was also very generous to offer us some extra space in their university during the WYD event to serve as our temporary office. We are very grateful for his support, friendship and confidence to us and in WYA’s mission. As we learned, the cause we serve is common and greater than anything else on earth.

As I write this, our team wishes to thank everyone whom we have met at WYD, who gave our team many gifts and extraordinary moments that filled our work with profound joy. We are grateful for the exceptional examples of selfless generosity we have encountered in every single step.

We hope that the new WYA members who joined our mission will engage with our different regional offices and will become active WYA members doing the Certified Training Program, opening WYA Chapters and becoming interns. I’m very thankful to WYA and my team for the unforgettable and meaningful opportunity of celebrating WYD.

People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centered or small-minded. Don’t be discouraged: with a smile and open arms, you proclaim hope and you are a blessing for our one human family, which here you represent so beautifully!,” Pope Francis said.

Written by Rocío Périz Faus, a Batch 2 2016 intern from Spain at the WYA Europe office.