As a WYA staff member living in New York City, my experience is that most people here are confused—at least a little bit—about the human person: about what it means to be human.
What exactly is “human dignity”?
How can one define what it truly means to be free?
Doesn’t living in a pluralistic society necessitate a relativistic worldview?
A problem arises—and, with it, a vicious cycle of brokenness and unhappiness—when people try to solve away their confusion without a holistic understanding of who we are, of those experiences that reveal to us our own humanity, capacities, and needs.
In recognizing, articulating, and responding to this confusion, I often rely on readings from WYA’s Track A Training. Addressing a wide range of topics connected to human dignity, freedom, solidarity, and other WYA core values, Track A is a series of writings designed to equip WYA members in their advocacy and activism, by giving an understanding of the person they are advocating for and defending.
Because each Track A chapter comes with written response questions, Track A training requires a considerable investment of time and effort to complete—one worth it! As the hundreds of certified WYA members attest, completing Track A is a deeply rewarding endeavor that allows one to more deeply appreciate the person and his dignity.
Let’s be honest—Track A readings can be difficult. They’re scholarly, they’re dense, and sometimes they seem wildly disconnected from one another on the surface.
When I did my own Track A as an intern, I started by considering each reading its own assignment. The more I read, however, the more I was able to identify connections between the different chapters and started to see their collective value—and realized that Track A is intended to offer tools for understanding the whole person in the world.
Once I realized that this was the goal of Track A Training—to equip WYA members with a holistic view of the human person—I got much more out of each reading. The further into Track A one reads, and the more one considers the way that the different specific but universal experiences of the human person connect, the more a holistic understanding of the person emerges from within the many Track A chapters.
Like with any large project, thinking of Track A Training as a series of smaller tasks can be helpful. It’s a kind of “journey” towards a deeper knowledge of human dignity.
Instead of focusing on the roadmap as whole, break it down into smaller trips consisting of chapters or individual readings by using the guide at the beginning of each chapter. Then, give yourself a deadline for each smaller undertaking—with some extra space at the end just in case!
Be sure to read the introduction and questions for each chapter before starting your reading, to know what to look for and the key points in each section that will need to be identified and assimilated.
Moreover, focusing on the main ideas can also help you draw connections between chapters, themes, and concepts.
And, in case you needed reminding, taking notes and highlighting important connections as you read helps not only with retention of the information, but also provides useful markers for building your written responses and for tracking any concepts about which you might need to ask questions.
Don’t forget that the purpose of the Track A training is help you articulate a holistic concept of human dignity.
Quotes, references, and allusions are all good, but be sure to demonstrate that you know what the readings are about—use your own words. To do so, it is helpful to tackle each question with an answer carefully structured around a central thesis that explicitly responds to the prompt. And again, the best answers strive for quality, not quantity—don’t feel pressured to write long answers just because you can.
If you are lucky enough to be in an area where Track A discussions are held, then join in! Many of the ideas discussed in the Track A Training, because they are centered on universal human dignity, can be abstract or general. By discussing these concepts with others, you can help concretize your knowledge of these issues and receive helpful insight. To find out if there are discussions in your area, contact the WYA office for your region.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful, and don’t forget that once you’ve finished you’ll join WYA’s ever-expanding pool of Track A accredited members who are eligible to participate in special programs like the International Solidarity Forum, Youth Voices at the UN Contest, and much more.
Weronika Janczuk is the WYA Director of Education. Track A Training, or WYA’s Certified Training Program, is is the collection of texts that provide the philosophical underpinnings for the mission of WYA. It presents a summary of philosophical, historical, and modern day texts that focus on the dignity of the person and human rights. Click here to join a training program near you.