Oscillating back and forth like a summer fan on full blast, my head finally halted to behold where I would dedicate the following months as an intern for the World Youth Alliance. Snugged in between buildings, like countless others in the metallic forest of Manhattan, the sight of the ivory-toned edifice with its ample-sized windows and an adorning glass rail in front immediately sparked in my mind the exciting experience that the internship would hold for me here. Whether a newly accepted intern or staff member from one of WYA’s regional offices around the globe, I am sure all have shared in the joyful anticipation and energy awaiting us among the walls of this welcoming space.
Several weeks into the program, I became well acquainted with the team of staff members, who provided every means for me to make the most out of the internship. Human dignity was not just encountered in weekly Track A discussions, but I always found it in my interaction with everyone. WYA is genuinely attuned to this philosophy, and this peaceful ambiance of respect and mutual encouragement, aspects of human dignity, are potently present.
Helping in project management of the North America Emerging Leaders Conference and the 5K Run for Dignity was the first assignment I received, and it was an opportunity for me to recognize the practical skills I had. Working with Clare Halpine and Marie Murray, I was treated not as a subordinate, but my input and effort into planning this important event made my self-confidence surface above the level of hesitancy one usually feels at the beginning of a project, especially in a new environment. To say the least, the occasion was a success one for WYA as were each following project, and all of this was a promising assertion of my potential in the workforce and future career.
Working with fellow interns from different countries added to the unique internship experience at WYA. Discussions in which we learned about each other such as cultural backgrounds were intriguing, and our contact in the office was connected in the spirit of collegiality and charity. And as an avid cook and connoisseur of international cuisine, I was constantly on the lookout for recipes too! The diversity that distinguished each person did not divide us – rather we were aware that the perspective on life was undoubtedly a commonality so dear to all – it was our source of solidarity.
Human dignity is naturally at the forefront of our minds wherever we are. Everyone associated with WYA permeates with this understanding that it is truly second-nature in thought, word and deed. Although I leave WYA headquarters in Manhattan, my experience has imparted to me practical skills that employers seek, a better comprehension of principles that I value and lasting friendships that have personally enriched my life. Gratified with six months committed to the mission of WYA, I leave thoroughly satisfied that I undertook this adventure as my first opportunity out of school and hope you will consider likewise.
By Edward Ablang, an intern for WYA North America