When I first heard about World Youth Alliance, I didn’t give it much attention; I perceived it as one of the many organizations in the country. However, my interest in the human rights field drove me later on to inspect the WYA’s website. And I was surprised by what I laid eyes upon. The historical background that dates to 1999, the condition of the alliance’s foundation, its charter and its various activities; they were all very appealing to me. But mostly, I was concerned with Anna Halpine, the strong, confident 21 year-old lady who was able to project and present the real and basic needs of the youth around the world. Anna was able to articulate in a very short period of time the real and genuine needs of the youth, rather than the shallow, narrow and short-term goals. Anna was aware of the “necessity of affirming and safeguarding all human life as the cornerstone of free and just societies.” “The power of truth is most powerful to those who are actively spinning lies.”
When I was reading the WYA charter, one word caught my sight first: Solidarity. I was familiar with this word because I’ve been heavily exposed to it in my “Social Problems” course at university. Solidarity is defined as unity. It is the main characteristic of a group or team work.
During our internship at the WYA Middle East office, we first learned the necessity of team work. As Henry Ford once stated, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Only through team work and collaboration will humanity achieve progress. This is not an idealistic statement, but it is the truth that many of us, especially in our region, the Middle East region, have yet to discover.
This truth is firmly proven by historical evidence.
What would have Ghandi done without his supporters? Was Martin Luther King to alleviate racism against the black population in America without his followers? And had Nelson Mandela been able to introduce change in South Africa working alone?
There is no such thing as oneness; it doesn’t exist. In its definition, the word leader means “the capability to influence the other,” so there’s no effective leadership without ‘the other.’
WYA is not merely an organization, but rather a school. A school that teaches you the significance of your rights, the importance of understanding cultural differences and working constantly to find common points across diverse cultures. WYA has its own ‘struggle for peace.’
Furthermore, WYA opened my eyes on several things: the subsistence value of education. How can you know your rights as a human being, if you aren’t educated and taught about them? It is of dire need to educate the youth about the basics human rights that they own by the mere virtue that they are humans: the right for sanitation, proper food, housing, clothes, education and many others. Once the youth become aware of their rights, they will allocate the appropriate resources and gear them towards achieving their rights and empowering those who are marginalized and unprivileged.
I owe WYA because, through its Certified Training Program, it helped me realize the value of the human being and the role he/she can play in the international struggle for peace. And as Anna put it, “what we are witnessing is a new cultural transformation among a generation of youth who are being inspired and equipped with the tools necessary to propose a clear vision of the person to the world,” this is the core aim of WYA.
Written by Hala Nasreddine a current intern at the WYA Middle East office in Lebanon.