How I Got My Voice Back: My WYA International Internship Experience

What’s on your mind?

If you are a Facebook user, you will recognize these words at an instant. It gleams at you as you open Facebook– gray, translucent and harmless. But what else can it signify? I’d argue that it actually reflects something much bigger.

Unlike my peers online, I find it quite difficult to express ‘what’s on my mind.’ I’m privy to the power of social media, but it seems I don’t have the same hubris as my friends who provide thoughtful insights on issues online. Most of the time, you’ll find me pressing backspace to ultimately think twice about the validity of my own voice.


Finding my voice amongst many

Last September 16, 2015, I had the honor of becoming part of a marketing internship with the World Youth Alliance (WYA) Headquarters in New York City. Upon its conclusion, not only was I given the opportunity to engage with different nationalities and expand my skills as a designer, but I was also presented with a unique avenue to rediscover my voice and use it to promote the dignity of the human person. 011515

Through events such as the WYA North America Emerging Leaders Conference and the World Youth Alliance dinner, I learned how to communicate and navigate in an international environment while at the same time, improve my administrative skills helping the team logistically and in design. As a design intern, I worked with the WYA Style Guide which greatly helped me as it compartmentalized my ideas without compromising creativity. I was also under very potent hands of the WYA Marketing heads, Emily Dy and Kaye Tan who were both very helpful and patient with me as I started off with minimal knowledge of Adobe Illustrator.

Another major part of my internship were the opportunities for conversation I had with various people from different backgrounds. We were a varied group of voices from different parts of the world, but somehow we found similarities in all our individual journeys to adulthood. Most of them brought new and unique ideas to the table, especially during our Track A discussions. They brought in ideas that I had never encountered before and ultimately helped deepen my understanding of the different issues.

In the same degree, it was through this internship that I learned to use my voice not simply to echo what others are saying but to continuously counter and search for better ways to impact society. As I was tasked to write a blog post about the newly released Sustainable Development Goals, I realized that things that come packaged a certain way should not always be accepted face value. These goals carried a certain level of influence over where funding will go and it is tantamount that the method with which governments achieve these goals respect the dignity of the person. To realize the significance WYA’s voice at the United Nations in this capacity definitely gave me a new found respect for the organization as a whole, and the part I play in it as an intern.


A Stronger Voice

Before applying for this internship, I had plans to pursue a career in the creative industry. And for an aspiring artist, it is true that to rein in one’s voice and to doubt the significance of one’s voice is a huge red flag. With the help of the World Youth Alliance, I became more confident in the vitality of my voice and the intrinsic nature of my dignity. Not only has dignity become something I stand up for and use to navigate the world, it has also become a crucial truth that sheds humanity into the stories I’d tell as an artist.

The concept of human dignity has given me a tool with which to view art as they showcase our humanity. I never thought I could see it this way, but it has given me a powerful voice that gives me great confidence.‎ And to have discovered this in New York City, was truly the most liberating experience ever.

Ultimately, these past few months have been so special, as it not only gave me the adventure of a lifetime, but it also encouraged me to find my voice. No longer will I have to doubt myself online or in person. With a backbone as clear as human dignity, I now am encouraged everyday to build my voice not only for myself but for others as well. With human dignity, everything becomes more meaningful. And I would choose to work with the World Youth Alliance again in a second.

Written by Jan Miko Superable, who recently completed an international internship at the WYA Headquarters. Miko is also a graduate of the WYA Asia Pacific Summer Camp program, as well as the regional internship.