Interns: The Beating Heart of WYA

DSC_0057Between June and September 2013, the Middle East office of the World Youth Alliance hosted its most successful internship program yet. Bruna, the Director of Operations, and I set out on trying new ways of making the internship program more professional and challenging, while maintaining the fun aspect to it. The results were beyond our expectations and our interns; Diala, Georgio, and Maya even inspired us to become bolder and more creative.

We started modifying the program by getting interns more involved in our strategic plan, knowing exactly how their efforts contributed to the achievement of the regional office goals and subsequently the international goals of the organization. This offered them the chance to become active members of the team, rather than passive volunteers waiting to be assigned tasks. Another key to maintaining the committing of the interns was tying their internship success to the tasks they had to complete throughout their time at the office. During the three months program, each intern has to work for a minimum of 200 hours, contribute with 3 blog posts, lead their own dignity project, and coordinate a community outreach activity.

Bruna and I are staff members of the organization with specific responsibilities and a clear strategic plan, goals, and indicators to achieve. Interns enter the organization and bring in their youth spirit that is not bound to plans and programs. Diala proposed and coordinated our participation in the Meshkal Art Festival that took place from September 18 to September 21 and even conducted her own fundraising project to help out Syrian refugees where she lives. Georgio on the other hand was working on his dignity project; a video of young people from across the Middle East and North Africa region sharing their understanding of human dignity. Finally, the team worked on an intense cultural event that includes a dance prepared by Maya and her friends, short movies, and discussions with artists on the world of human creativity while exploring the free spaces , both mental and physical. None of this would have been possible without the valuable contributions of our interns.

Interns helped set up the space in Beirut before we even had an office. They are the beating heart of our work and the source of our creativity. The future of WYA’s regional offices lies in investing in interns.

To apply and know more about the internship program click here.

Cedric Choukeir is the regional director of the World Youth Alliance in the Middle East.