My internship here at the World Youth Alliance is coming to a close. I remember when I first came here I had a lot of fears. I think a lot of my fears came from not completely knowing what I was getting myself into and I wasn’t sure if I would fit well with the organization. I think my favorite part of this internship was that it gave me the chance to really get to know an organization in detail. I learned new ways to look at the world as well as putting more pieces together on how to piece the tension of the secular and religious together.
Last weekend, a fellow intern and I jetted off to Pasco, Washington to give a talk for World Youth Alliance, detailing WYA’s work as well as doing a lesson on Culture and Dignity. I’ve been spending some time creating my talk and going over it with my supervisor. While going over my talk I realized how passionate I am about the work we are doing, and the talk came together more because I was learning to speak from my heart. Being here at the World Youth Alliance showed me how important it is to really understand the organization you work for and how important it is to reach hearts, not just win arguments.
WYA’s mission to promote the dignity of the person does not begin at the international level but at the actions of each individual person, how they treat those around them and how they impact their culture. We cannot insist that our world passes laws that uphold dignity if we do not first recognize the dignity in each other.
I remember last year, in the height of the 2012 Delhi Gang Rape Case, I sat on the floor of my dorm room reading through the CNN reports till around three in the morning. My stomach twisted in a fit of disgust, and my heart fell deeper and deeper into a well of anger, eventually subsiding into despair. Reading about the horrors of sex trafficking, spending hours dissecting feminist theory in my Gender Women’s Studies classes, and examining the countless ways women are objectified in our society can get so depressing. I would sit for hours, captivated by the atrocities in the world, and become angrier and more upset by the second. I wouldn’t know where to begin to fight it; all it accomplished was anger and disheartenment.
Being here at WYA has shown me that we have to approach these issues not in anger but focusing on the good we are trying to achieve. I need to not only choose my battles but also view the humans in our world with great dignity. When I lose hope through the heinous acts that happen in the world, I lose a little hope in mankind and begin to doubt even the innate dignity in us all. I must ask myself why such cruelties like human rights’ violations anger me so much. By recognizing that these violations of human rights are a violation of the innate dignity inside of myself then I can pinpoint what to battle and what I am fighting for.
What I realized at WYA was that there was always a central focus on what we were doing this work for. Everything constantly connects back to dignity. Whether we are talking about sustainable development issues, or violence against women, we put the human person at the focus of our work. For example, when it comes to sustainable development, we believe that the people are the solution rather than the problem. We must focus our resources in investing in the people because humans are innovative beings who come up with technologies to face development issues.
Anne Frank once wrote, “It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
Being here at WYA has reminded me to always keep the positive change I want to see in the world in mind, and use this as a guide for all my work, beginning at how I treat those around me.
Monica Kim is an intern for the WYA North America office. The photo above was taken on International Women’s Day.