“WYA gives me the courage to be the voice of the voiceless” – Lessons from our Summer Campers

“WYA gives young people to opportunity to speak up and voice their concerns, questions and thoughts; in this way, it is truly a voice for the voiceless – not everyone in this world is lucky enough to have their voice heard and World Youth Alliance acts on behalf of many of the powerless,” Anna, an summer camper from Poland, shares.

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From hundreds of applications, 22 young people who had great commitment to promote human dignity and make a difference in their communities were accepted. The summer campers, who were selected through a series of essays submissions and online interviews, came from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Thailand and USA.

The weeklong International Summer Camp program from July 16 to 23 served as an opportunity for the participants to come in solidarity with individuals such as themselves and to learn about the dignity of the human person and how this idea is the starting point for change in the world. Campers participated in different lectures, advocacy discussions and training workshops on the Human Dignity Curriculum, TeenFEMM and TeenMEN. In addition to these, they also have various outdoor and cultural activities including movie nights, a visit to the United Nations Headquarters, sports and sightseeing around New York City.

Let’s hear some of the testimonials of three of our summer campers from Poland, Philippines and Lebanon on how the camp shaped their lives, inspired them to contribute for positive action in the communities and enabled them to stand for counter-cultural ideas in the culture.

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Coming all the way from Poland to take part in WYA’s International Summer Camp, Anna Rybicka, 18, feels that “being a part of a global coalition of young people all around the world is empowering because together we can achieve more.” As a young leader herself in her own community, she’s glad to have participated in the Summer Camp program and she believes that being a leader means setting an example for others to follow and that a true front runner has the ability to inspire and encourage.

As part of the Summer Camp training program, the campers were introduced to WYA’s history and the new proposals that it currently focus on including the Human Dignity Curriculum and the FEMM program. “It’s amazing to be a part of the youth because it really gives you the opportunity to be a change maker; with the energy that young people have, anything is possible,” Anna shares.

“Some of the most vital things I have learned during ISC are the basics of international law, the meaning of advocacy, the importance of teamwork and what it means to be a good leader,” she shares when asked about what she learned during the camp and the different discussions.

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Hisham Mahmoud-Armenoulitch, also known as “Hitch” by his peers, is also one of the oldest summer campers from Lebanon. When asked about what it means to be part of WYA, the 18-year old replies, “As a young person, my vision of the world and my perception of certain concepts are still constantly changing, thus being part of a coalition with meaningful and profound teachings and wise and likeminded people makes me feel more secure and comfortable when it comes to the quality of ideas and the nature of perceptions I’m still on the verge of adopting.”

Hitch believes that being young makes one feel optimistic and important, and that is why it is the youth in which the world counts to secure humanity’s future. When asked about why the participation of the youth is crucial to development and promotion of human dignity, he responds, “Young people have the optimism, motivation, physical and spiritual energy needed to act, create, innovate and change.”

“WYA helps us, young leaders to deliver and channel our expertise to those youth and to invite them into our global network, share with them our experiences and humble expertise,” he continues.

After the one-week program, he shares with us that, “The camp helped me learn more about other cultures besides reassuring basic concepts and lessons I’ve previously discovered while taking the Certified Training Program.” Fulfilling one of its goals for the program, the camp enabled Hitch and his fellow summer campers to interact with likeminded people with similar goals when it comes to affecting their community and finding ways to do promote human dignity in their own capacities and through their skills, talents and network. “The camp was amazing and beneficial and it also helped me in sustaining overseas relationships which I will cherish forever,” he says.

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“WYA has truly changed my life and helped me become a better person,” Alexandra Agana shares.

The 15-year old summer camper who hails from the Philippines also shares that she feels privileged to be part of a global coalition of young people from all over the world because she is able to be a voice for the voiceless and hope for the hopeless.

“WYA can help me and other young people be a voice for the voiceless because they equip me with knowledge and knowing that I have the support of the youth around the world, it inspires me and gives me the courage to fight for the dignity of the human person,” she adds on.

“We are capable of influencing the world to be a better place, and that is why it is great to be a part of the youth,” Alex shares. “The participation of the youth is essential to achieve development because whatever we do affects our lives today and will affect our lives tomorrow. The youth will be the next generation of leaders and it is important that they take a stand in current issues that will alter the course of human history,” she adds.

WYA offers educational programs to its members and one of these is being part of the international summer camp. For her, “the youth can contribute to society by not taking their education for granted.” Education is an important key factor that can influence perspectives and guide decision-making processes. “Educated young members will be able to know, do and teach others what is right,” she adds.

Alex sees herself as a youth leader in her country because she wants to do nothing else but to use her purpose in life to help the society be a better place to live in. “The ISC deepened my experience in treating other people as subjects,” Alex shares her testimonials about the ISC. “I recognized that the priority should always be given to the human person, and not treat them as objects,” she continues. “It was an unforgettable experience meeting other young people who have the same convictions as I do around the world.”

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Being a globally-active youth organization, the World Youth Alliance has provided opportunities for young people to be socially, economically and politically engaged in line with the organization’s advocacy on building a culture of life that affirms the intrinsic and inviolable dignity of the person.

WYA recognizes that young people, no matter the circumstances, have the capacity and ability to contribute to the development of societies. If you would like to get involved with us, sign the WYA Charter to become a member and undergo our Certified Training Program to learn more about the WYA’s foundation, the philosophy of the human person and international law among others.

It is through your generous contribution that we are able to empower such young people to achieve new heights and discover new potentials. And it is our hope that you continue to help us do the same. Give WYA a gift today or contact our regional offices to make a donation. Your contribution helps us continue to build a better world.