Human rights was already an unpopular concept from where I grew up, not mentioning human dignity. My first encounter with World Youth Alliance was a unique one: when I was browsing, I saw this well-structured Certified Training Program FOR FREE and wondered why an organisation would train people on this special topic not for profit. Holding this question, I filled in the application, on nearly the last day before the deadline.
I printed out the training manual and began reading even before my acceptance email from the World Youth Alliance Europe regional office. From Beijing to Shanghai, from Qingdao to Inner Mongolia, from Guangzhou to Paris, World Youth Alliance and human dignity enlightened the whole summer after my senior year of high school.
I remember sitting in a cafe and writing side-notes on every single page of the certified training manual, immersing myself in the story of the scholars and fictional characters and almost missed the flight and recording an international voice message to my transient updating my personal struggle while completing the essay.
My final certification as an official member was accompanied by an invitation to do an internship at the WYA Europe regional office in Brussels. It gave all the determination under this pandemic to do the international travel all the way on an airplane from China to France and finally crossing the border on a Flixbus to Belgium.
The week of orientation started by building out project management skills, conducting social media training, and getting used to life as a resident in Brussels. From setting up an appointment for apartment-visit to designing a spreadsheet for travel reimbursement. I learn from the staff’s perspective on how a successful implementation of a program requires a careful evaluation of every piece of detail, before, during, and after the process.
The part I love the most about the European internship was the fact that I got to read and discuss all the White Papers on the topic of Assisted Suicide & Euthanasia, Sex Education, Reproductive Health, HIV & AIDs, and listen to a real European Parliament debate on abortion rights in Poland. I also had a great experience meeting the WYA president virtually and attending a negotiation workshop organised by the Minerva School at KGI and WYA Headquarters.
My skill was developed while making a financial balance sheet on excel and conducting research on motivational strategy for online events. Moreover, I learned a lot from my fellow interns and staff members from the UK, Germany and Croatia, both in-office and in our shared flat, such as how to stay relaxed while maintaining professionalism, how to keep a good balance between work and leisure, and I realised that culture will never be a barrier to the universal humanistic elements we carried.
The unique part of my experience also happened outside of the internship, in the city of Brussels. I got to feel the diverse functions of the city when taking walks in the European Quarter and Grand Palace, having a conversation with an EU diplomat from Strasbourg, and enjoying dinner parties with my French language exchange buddy from Lille. All of those could never happen without the sponsorship and opportunity provided by the World Youth Alliance.
Back in May 2020, I probably did not realise how a last-minute application can be a life-changing moment for me. The first time carefully reading a pile of scholastic articles in the field of social sciences and humanities, the first internship experience with youth from all over the world in a country that only appeared in fairytales, the solid bridge connecting me from Asia to Europe, and in the future, to North America, WYA opened the door. Defending
human dignity becomes a destiny while I am studying at Sciences Po and Columbia, and will definitely continue to be part of my heart after I enter my field of profession.
Published: December 19, 2020
Written by Haila Amin, a WYA Europe intern from China