For Generation Why? There’s WYA!

Let’s admit, we are a generation full of why’s. We ask ourselves and others a ton of questions every day: Why me? Why am I like this? Why can’t I do that? Why is the world terrible? Why are kids still hungry? Why are people still suffering?

But why WYA? Simple. WYA is one of the mediums to personally answer these questions constructively.

World Youth Alliance or WYA is composed of young men and women from around the world, ages 10 to 30, who seek to promote the dignity of the person and make a difference in this world.  This organization was started by a young woman herself when she was just 21 years old. Now, we’ve grown as an international organization, with six regional offices around the world. Our headquarters is located in New York City, and shares the office with the WYA North America (WYANA) region.

One of WYANA’s annual activities is the International Summer Camp (ISC) open to young people from all over the world between the ages from 13 to 18. It is usually held for one week in mid-July, in the United States.

At 19 years old, I was accepted to the ISC 2017 as a junior counselor.  We were a total of 22 delegates from Lebanon, the Philippines, Mexico, United States, Lithuania, Ethiopia, Nepal, and Canada, with 20 campers and 2 junior counselors.

As a junior counselor, my task was to assist the counselors with activities and at the same time join the campers in their training. Missing school for quite a long time was a leap of faith for me. Let me share with you know some of my camp stories and those I met at the camp and how they changed my perception of the world.

The venue of the summer camp this year was in Warner, New Hampshire, a first time outside the WYA Headquarters in Manhattan, New York.  I first met Ryan, a camp counselor, and he introduced me to the rest of the counselors and campers. There I also met Alex, a 16-year-old camper all the way from Vietnam.  I was amazed by her wit and the way she talked to me about Vietnam’s politics and current situations she wants to change.  I realized that at a really young age, she is already looking for ways to understand more the rights of her fellow Vietnamese people through WYA.  I also met Luca from Lithuania, who had already volunteered for a TED event at 16. There was also Christina who is a triathlete and runs marathons that benefit children with disabilities.

These were just some of the “teenagers” I initially met at camp, but all of us had different stories to tell and cultures to share.  I admired so much that young as they are, they already want to make a positive impact on this world.

Meeting new friends was just one aspect, perhaps the start, of the ISC. A huge part of the camp was learning more about human dignity and different advocacies, through lectures, and of course, fun games. We even did a hike! But what made me fully understand the reason I chose to participate in that camp was our lecture about culture and arts and how we can use it to make statements that will imprint a positive impact our audience.

I am an Architecture student and I truly love my course, but I think what I was initially missing was the real “why” if I decided to take it. Saying that I took architecture for the simply because I know how to draw is not really a reason but more of a skill. The purpose is something defined by a that you set for yourself, which could be through the intervention of Someone high above.

But in WYA I also found my answer. I found that the key to how I practice my passion so well is to use it to make a movement that will entice people to achieve a greater good.

This adventure was absolutely one for the books, and I plan to continue the Certified Training Program. I fell more in love with the world we live in, and this experience set me off to use my passion for truth.

Opportunities like this are difficult to let go and looking back, I still am in awe at how a struggling student like me was able to join something like this.  But together with the support of family and friends, and believing in myself, it was really all worth the risk. And now I am paying it forward.

Written by Vimaluz Amairah Macabanti, a WYA member from the Philippines.