WYA is delighted to present the Viktor Frankl Award to exemplary members from the Philippines, Kenya, Germany, Guatemala, Lebanon, and the United States of America.
Now on its third year, the Viktor Frankl Award is presented to outstanding members of the World Youth Alliance who have made vital contributions in upholding the mission of promoting human dignity in their communities. Read on and meet our awardees for this year:
WYA Asia Pacific Awardee: Angel de la Flor (the Philippines)
“WYA brims with opportunities for many young people and it always has a big room for members who are willing to step out and serve!” Indeed, that was the exact case for Angel. What initially started as a 3-month regional internship with the Asia Pacific office in 2013 eventually became a meaningful journey in the next years. After the internship, Angel was given the opportunity to join as a youth delegate for the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations and represented the Asia Pacific region as a delegate of the 11th International Solidarity Forum at the WYA Headquarters in New York. Over the years, she participated in local and international conferences to represent WYA. But the most memorable one would be the WYA and CIAM Youth Synod Colloquium in Rome, Italy last 2017.
“The best part of these experiences was getting connected with fellow members from different places of the globe whose stories have never failed to touch my heart. I always meet people whose passion to serve their communities have inspired me in many ways. Above all, the genuine connection and fellowship that we share, no matter how brief, is always something that I cherish.” When asked for her advice to members who like to get involved, Angel adds, “I encourage my fellow members to jump in and discover all the substantial things they could both give to and receive from their own WYA journey!”
WYA Africa Awardee: Joseph Atulo (Kenya)
Joseph’s WYA Journey began in a conference organized at his school, the University of Nairobi. This eventually prompted him to apply for the regional internship. Even though his first application in 2017 did not go through, he didn’t let that stop him. He then applied for 1st Internship batch for 2018 in which he was accepted. “I signed the charter because I have a great conviction that we all have a responsibility of promoting the dignity of the human person and I wanted to be part of this through WYA involvement”. Truly, Joseph walks the talk. Even after finishing the internship, Joseph saw the strong impact of the Certified Training Program (CTP) in the lives of young people. “I have also involved myself in other programs. especially the chapters and clubs programs (in) which I was involved in educating high school students and taking them through the CTP and other teachings of the human dignity. Getting involved in dignity projects both for my time during the internship and after I left the internship has been one of the most important highlights because getting to educate and remind people of their value is very important to me.”
In parting, Joseph offers this sage advice to other WYA members: “I believe that every WYA member has what it takes to contribute to the growth of WYA. This should include getting involved in the programs and understanding what you can bring to the table and not only what WYA can give you or your community. In identifying your main area of interest, one should be committed and passionate to working or collaborating with WYA to ensure that this is realized.”
WYA Europe Awardee: Clara Wedel (Germany)
Clara first heard about WYA through her older siblings, Elisabeth and Moritz, who had both done a regional internship in Brussels before. While in her 2nd semester of studying Chemistry and Biochemistry in Munich, Clara ended up taking the Certified Training Program (previously the Track A). Later on, she was able to do a Fertility Education Medical Management (otherwise known as FEMM, WYA’s sister organization) Training Course in Malta. “I had many highlights with WYA, but the most defining highlight was my work in New Zealand with Prof. Len Blackwell (who is working with Dr. Pilar Vigil at RHRI) on a new technology for tracking a woman’s cycle. In the lab of Prof. Len Blackwell, I was able to discover the world of estrogen and progesterone, two very important hormones in the cycle. My time in his lab in Palmerston North taught me very much but most importantly it helped me understand that studying your own cycle is very much empowering.” When asked about the best lesson she had learned from WYA, Clara shares, “Although it might feel like it sometimes, I am not alone in the way I view the world. WYA has shown me that there are people from all over the world who support my view on the dignity of the human person and have a similar opinion on what freedom means.”
In the future, Clara hopes that WYA manages to reach and connect more and more young people (especially in the form of an energy boost in the German speaking region). She also hopes that FEMM reaches more and more women.
WYA Latin America Awardee: Maria Renee Estrada (Guatemala)
“For me, WYA means everything that my heart has always longed for myself, the world and the people around me. It means hope, that through education, arts and advocacy, we can transform the world into a better place for everyone.” Maria Renee’s first discovered WYA through the Book & Film List, since she was a bookworm and a great fan of cinematography. “Some years before, I had begun to train in subjects that had as their central axis the defense and promotion of human dignity, and when I discovered the work of WYA it was love at first sight.” When she returned to Guatemala in 2014, she did the Certified Training Program (CTP) and the regional internship in Mexico. She calls the CTP her second big crush and the third, WYA’s Human Dignity Curriculum. The latter she had the chance to execute during a pilot run in Mexico during her internship. “The HDC is a very valuable tool for parents, teachers and people interested in the education of the heart, which Aristotle spoke of.” In 2015, Maria Renee participated in the International Solidarity Forum where she deepened her understanding and application of HDC and FEMM, and the importance of both for the integral development of people and society. This led her to take the FEMM Teacher Training Course.
“With all the tools that WYA has given me over the years, I have had a positive impact on my community through university teaching, leadership in youth groups, social and political activism, as well as collaborations in opinion columns.” In parting, Maria Renee encourages each member to become active in WYA by “looking for spaces where you can put into practices the knowledge that WYA has given us.” For her, “working for the defense and promotion of human dignity is invaluable and is worth every second invested.”
WYA Middle East Awardee: Nourhan Mokahal (Lebanon)
In 2016, a Facebook post caught Nourhan’s eye. It was a post about WYA and the concept of being human. Her curiosity piqued, she checked it out and read a few more blogs written by WYA members. From there, she was hooked. “World Youth Alliance is just like a spring for human flourishing. It really reminds me of the film “Alice in the Wonderland” since it is full of self and others’ exploration as it represent a whole journey toward the purpose of humanity and the meaning of human dignity.” When asked about her most memorable WYA experience, she recalls “Be Enterprising, Be Bold” (an Erasmus + Project WYA Middle East was a partner on). She quotes the H.H. Dalai Lama in “Our Global Family” in describing the experience:
“Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations free. True peace with oneself and with the world around us can only be achieved through the development of mental peace.” Putting it in her own words, Nourhan shares, “We came from different cultures, backgrounds, race, and religions with different ideas and perspectives. Each person was special and different in his own unique way….. But we felt as if we were one person, one global family.” As a parting message, Nourhan advises fellow WYA members to “Look deep down and reveal your power to move “Me to We” as our hearts, minds, and senses merge with others in the journey of humanity.
WYA North America Awardee: Dominic Mangino (USA)
Dominic first learned about WYA when he heard WYA Founder Anna Halpine talk when he was spending a semester studying in Rome. “A few of us found it incredibly persuasive and inspiring. When we returned to the U.S.A we took the training and began the process of getting a chapter started!”
This opened the door to many opportunities. Not only did he get to attend an Emerging Leaders Conference (ELC) in New York, he also recently presented in the Philadelphia edition of the ELC. Dominic shares that the highlight of these opportunities was the trip to Taiwan to represent WYA North America at the Global Youth Forum last year. There, they were able to discuss sustainable development with youth from over 16 countries.
For Dominic, WYA taught him that the world was a lot more connected than one might imagine. He also learned that, generally speaking, we all have more in common than we are different. But the most important lesson he learned from WYA was this “I’ve learned that communicating WYA’s vision of the human person is not always easy, sometimes met with great resistance, but is always worthwhile.”
This year’s awardees will be recognized on March 28 at the WYA Headquarters in New York City.
Once again, WYA warmly congratulates these amazing members for their stellar contribution as young people to WYA’s mission.
Want to start your WYA journey? Become a member by signing the charter today.