“How can you turn a thousand smartphones into something worthwhile?” This is what I thought as I was taking this photo. It was an eventful 6 hours of standing in line just to see Pope Francis pass through Central Park during his visit to New York in 2015.
As a graduate student, I am incredibly tempted to sit back in the ivory tower of academia. And I did. For my first semester in New York, I sat back and showed up to my classes. I joined school functions and lectures. I was amazed at the amount of content that could keep me going, a stark contrast to my previous experience in the Philippines.
I was searching for something worthwhile to do. I was in a position that most people could only dream of. It finally came in late December at a school function, I chanced upon a conversation with a classmate and I was immediately drawn into an exchange filled with similarities as much as differences. What was agreed on was more important. It was the sentiment that the youth needed a platform to converse with one another. Hoping to turn our generation’s insatiable need for the internet into something more substantial. This became the start of what should be a long journey to learning more about other cultures and their opinions on issues that will affect. Bringing what would ordinarily be a dinner conversation amongst young people to a stage where we can all learn from each other.
Time-consuming, yes. Energy-consuming, even more so. However, going through this process of creation I am reminded of the telling history of the World Youth Alliance and the origins of its own movement. Movements are most successful when the voice they are carrying is one that is truly novel and has the right mix of supporters. It was about going against the current and representing the alternative. For WYA 17 years on, the pink flyer continues to be a tale that will be told over and over again because of its impact to those who feel that their voices are not represented. This is me waving the pink flyer for the sector of the youth who are sick of the hate and the violence that the world and most especially has pushed younger people to accept as the status quo.
Written by Melissa De la Cruz, an current intern at the WYA Headquarters from Cebu, Philippines.