HDC Volunteers: Changing the World, One Classroom at a Time

When met with the question, “How can we change the world?”, these young people see it happening in the classroom, one student at a time.

“Application of values must be properly executed in school and the community and that is also where our advocacy in World Youth Alliance comes in – we put emphasis on the value and capability of the human person. Therefore, in understanding our self worth, the younger the better,” Rejean Darroca, a WYA member from the Philippines, shares when asked about her thoughts on developing the Human Dignity Curriculum.

The Human Dignity Curriculum (HDC) is a unique program developed by the World Youth Alliance which aims to teach young people, from ages 4-18 (grade Kindergarten to 12), about the human person, human dignity, human freedom, and human excellence. It has been implemented in different countries like the United States, the Philippines, and Mexico reaching over 1700 students around the world. Through the efforts of WYA members around the world, finalized versions of Grades K-8 are now officially available for adoption while Grades 9-12 are still underway.

Andreja Kotnik, an HDC volunteer from Croatia, expresses the value she finds in the curriculum in saying, “It is important for children to have a solid foundation in order to develop completely. And HDC certainly can help with this.” Meanwhile, WYA member Jerlyn Rabaca finds joy in seeing the HDC come into fruition as she sees its positive impact on the children who learn it, “Before I met WYA, I already knew that there was WYA inside me. But the moment I got to know the organization, I was motivated to do more, because I know that now, more than ever, I am not alone in this fight.”

Take the time to meet these inspiring members who have continuously lent their talent in developing the HDC!

Rogin Christ Eribal, Philippines

“(Teaching) human dignity is a great investment for children. It will become their foundation and the basis of the values system and truths that they will be creating during childhood. It is important that the foundation is well established, and HDC can help them do that,” Rogin shares on the HDC. His first encounter with WYA was during the summer camp back in 2014. Since then, he has established the WYA Ateneo de Zamboanga University Chapter where he now acts as moderator. He had also undergone the regional internship at the Asia Pacific office in 2015 before eventually hosting two Emerging Leaders Conferences and acting as lead facilitator at two Asia Pacific Summer Camp. “In this journey with WYA, I could really observe how I grew up in every step of the way, and as the years went by I understand more the depth of the reason that fuels the organization to exist.” Aside from taking up his Masters in Educational Administration, Rogin also currently manages an Arts for Youth Development Project which has an Alternative School for Peacebuilding and the Arts for out-of-school youth ranging from ages 14-24.

In helping develop the HDC, Rogin talks about how much he appreciates that the activities were created to fit each grade level in the curriculum. “This is rather a different kind of curriculum from the ones I have created before. It gave me a new perspective on how curriculums should work in schools, especially (on) having this kind of focus (human dignity).” Rogin recalls a conversation with a colleague when they were conceptualizing a play on bullying. When the colleague recognized the difficulty of teaching a child advanced concepts such as self-worth and human dignity, Rogin immediately thought of the HDC. “There is still so much work to be done in our mission on human dignity because even in my workplace, human dignity is still hardly recognized.”

 

Jerlyn Rabaca, Philippines

“They say “It’s hard to grow old” but I think, it’s harder to grow old, without an option. Through the HDC, children will have an option to do what is right or wrong, the good or bad while knowing their effects, rewards or consequences. And in the long run, hopefully, they would prefer to choose doing what is good, right and just,” answers Jerlyn when asked about the curriculum. A Teach for the Philippines Alumni Ambassador, Jerlyn’s work mainly involves Nation Building Through Education in her assignment to the Bureau of Learning and Delivery of the Department of Education. She also helps with the Abot-Alam Program (Education Within Reach Program), seeking different opportunities for out-of-school youth. On top of that, she is also taking up her masters in Education major in Administration and Supervision.

Jerlyn first met WYA in an event and invited them to teach the HDC to the Play, Learn and Serve (PLS) community where she serves children from all walks of life through opportunities to learn essential human competencies such as personality development, critical thinking and creativity, management, mindedness, social and environmental awareness, and most importantly, practical Christianity. “It filled my hungry heart to meet people with the same passion as mine, to educate people from all walks of life, “that life per se, is a life for others.” According to Jerlyn, it’s important that children become aware that they have personal identity and that they were born with the precious gift of innate human dignity.  With this, she expresses her happiness by saying, “It was such an honour being chosen, to be part of the team who will develop the K9 to K12 curriculum. Driven to help my countrymen, WYA gave me a chance to share my passion in education by developing lessons which will soon be used for the youth around the world. While we haven’t finished yet the curriculum, personally, the process is a gateway for me to know more, what I thought I knew already.”

 

Rejean Darroca, Philippines

“We need to supplement the understanding of the worth of the person at a very young age in order to affirm their understanding of values they learn or acquire within their families and the society,” was Rejean’s response on the importance of the HDC. Having established 3 WYA chapters in her high school, university, and province (in which she is still the President of) and having volunteered as a facilitator of 3 summer camps with the Asia Pacific region, one can definitely say that Rejean has had a colorful WYA journey. This year, she has been awarded the very first Viktor Frankl Award by WYA which is given to honor exemplary members all over the world. She now expresses her excitement in being part of the pilot implementation in Balara, Quezon City where the students’ backgrounds included stories of deep poverty, incest rape, or complicated family ties. Rejean shares how she found joy in working with the PLS partner community since WYA supplemented the kids’ learning by providing a wholesome approach in teaching them good values and helping them learn to see the beauty of the world again by creating a culture of life that protects and nurtures the dignity of the person. “It felt really good to work for the common good, knowing that we will be touching lives along the way and concretely taking steps to change the world.”

When asked to share about her favorite HDC moment, Rejean reflects, “It was finally seeing the kids transform into warm, loving individuals who understood their value and they were willingly transcending the love that they found in their families, teachers and friends to the rest of the community. The WYA approach made them feel wanted, warmed their hearts, reassured them of their self-respect,and made them appreciate the value of others as well. It was a crucial outcome given the harsh backgrounds and social situations of students that came from (broken families, slums, victims of abuse etc.).”

 

Andreja Kotnik, Croatia

“It’s definitely the realization that could be read in children’s eyes – when they finally understand why it is important to practice that trait or avoid this behaviour – all because it is for the sake of who they are – that they are to become the best version of themselves and it is in giving their best to others: a complete human being – a complete person,” shares Andreja when asked about her favorite moment in teaching the HDC. Andreja, who is currently working as a religion teacher in an elementary school, first encountered WYA on her last year of taking theology in college. A friend told her all about the organization and little by little, she became interested which resulted to her taking the Certified Training program.

When asked about what she likes about the HDC, Andreja admires how its simplicity lies in the extraordinary way the complex idea of human dignity is explained in a way that children can understand. “It is a complex task because the idea behind the program is very deep and a bit complex itself – the term: human dignity isn’t very easy to understand completely. But HDC reminds children that everyone is unique and valuable. Because of that, we need to help each other in our everyday struggles to make the best out of ourselves.” She also mentions how she appreciates that the HDC enables the students to understand these concepts practically through appropriate homeworks.

Want to learn more about the Human Dignity Curriculum (HDC)? Click here for more information. You may bring the HDC program to your school or community by simply contacting a regional office near you or emailing education@wya.net.