Three of our very active WYA members from Colombia, France, and the United States of America have decided to put their passion for human dignity into action!
One of the many ways to get involved with the work of the World Youth Alliance is by opening a Chapter in one’s school or region and three of our committed members have devoted their time and effort in opening a WYA Chapter to contribute to WYA’s mission in concretely upholding the values and ideals of human dignity.
WYA Chapters are driven by the initiatives of young people who are committed to upholding WYA’s advocacy in their communities. A WYA Chapter is a local branch of WYA that can propose, manage, and implement activities that support the WYA mission. Chapters are led by WYA members in high schools, college or university campuses, cities, provinces, or states.
Meet three of our committed members around their world as they share their thoughts and insights about how opening a WYA Chapter is their way of paying it forward.
Andres Carrillo, a current member of the WYA Georgia State University Chapter from Colombia, alongside with other members and alumni in Colombia are interested to strengthen the group of WYA certified members and to launch an active WYA Colombia Chapter this year.
When asked about how the possible Chapter can contribute to the development of his country, he responds, “With the WYA ideals, we believe that we can contribute in our country by developing the necessary bases for a better nation that respects human dignity and human rights.”
Chapters partner with WYA in promoting human dignity through advocacy work, education programs, and cultural events. Through this, Chapters can create plausible solutions to impact various issues in their community. “Colombia is a country that has been in civil war for over 50 years, and at the moment, the Government of Colombia has been in peace talks with the last two rebel groups with the aim of ending the war once and for all,” he shares.
“I believe that there should be a social climate that fosters and promotes human dignity, freedom and equality but in order to fully achieve this goal, Colombia must be a country free of war. For this reason, it will be good to focus in promoting the peace talks and help build a post war society that respects human dignity,” he continues.
Andres wants to invite all of those who are interested in opening a WYA Chapter to do so since he believes that it is in our hands to protect human dignity.
Hailing from Angers, France is the leader of the first French WYA Chapter leader, Raphaël Cros. Following a conference talk given by the Director of WYAE, Raphaël, together with Apolline Bergé, Hortense Taillebois and previous interns and active members of WYA, decided to work in solidarity and open the first Chapter in the country.
“I opened a chapter in Angers with my friends to pass down the knowledge that we have and to influence more people on WYA’s advocacy,” Cros shares.“I think the Chapter will contribute to the development of my school because it is a way of acquiring a general knowledge about the tomorrow’s stakes,” he continues.
Chapters are recognized as an official branch of WYA and being a part of it means making one’s voice count especially when it comes to taking a stand against issues that pose a threat to the community.
“The principal issue in my country is the way the State recognizes the individuals particularly cases such as abortion and the euthanasia,” he shares. Few of the benefits from a Chapter includes receiving information and invitations to attend regional and international training sessions, conferences and meetings, policy-making activities, local and international cultural events that can help in impacting the society.
The Angers Chapter is particularly looking for student-members mainly because the Chapter operates in a school. “Since it is the first year of starting the chapter, we will first concentrate on the development of the Chapter before creating some events or associate plans,” Cros responds when asked about what was in store for WYA members who were part of the Chapter.
Cros knows that managing and operating the Chapter alone is impossible and that it is crucial for him and the entire team to work in solidarity to be able to influence and inspire young people. Being a Chapter leader is a difficult role to play and for him, “it was a long work ahead of transmitting, organizing, leading and motivating the members.”
WYA Chapters recruit and engage new members for each region to be part of projects and events that uphold WYA’s ideals about the human person. Raphaël and his team would like to encourage young people to open Chapters in their regions because for him, “it is a way of restructuring the society around the [proper understanding of] human dignity.”
WYA believes in the Freedom for Excellence which is the freedom to choose to do the good for the betterment of the community and our third featured Chapter leader exhibited this ideal by opening a WYA Chapter in her university!
Racquel Downing, the Georgia State University Chapter leader, shares that she always wanted to
be a part of an organization that works to make a difference in the community. “One day, while watching television, I saw the exhibition of World Youth Day in Brazil, and World Youth Alliance was mentioned during the event,” she says when asked about how she found out about WYA. “I immediately started researching more about the organization, and after learning more about WYA’s mission, I knew that it was the perfect opportunity to get involved and make a change in society,” she continues.
Racquel believes that WYA Chapters bring together groups of young people who share similar interests to uphold the dignity of the person and build solidarity within communities. “I truly believe that WYA is positively influencing government, educational systems, and young people all around the world through it numerous initiatives and programs.”
“Having been raised in one of the richest countries in the world, I found it hard to comprehend why there are over 3.5 million homeless people in America,” she shares. With this, she intends the GSU Chapter to
“focus on projects that work within the homeless community to not only bring shelter and food to them but to also make them feel like they are respected and cared for.”
Apart from recruiting more members, WYA Chapters mobilize members to connect WYA ideas with practical action at local and international levels. For Racquel, “WYA Chapters are looking for members, from all backgrounds, who strongly believe in WYA’s mission statement and are dedicated to upholding the dignity of the person.” She also plans to have members continue to learn more about the Certified Training Program and apply what they have learned to community service projects.
Being a Chapter Leader does not entail extreme supremacy and for her, it is “having the opportunity to guide a group of young people towards advocating and learning more about the WYA mission and working with others with similar passions and goals to help uphold the dignity of the person and make a difference in the world.”
“Opening a WYA Chapter has been one of the best experiences during my college years because it has provided me with the opportunity to gather people who share similar goals and values to work towards a greater mission,” she shares. “I believe that WYA members should take advantage of this great opportunity to help lead and grow the WYA community,” she responds on why we should encourage more people to open WYA Chapters.
Chapters engage in several activities every year namely, Certified Training Program discussions, Membership drives, and special projects such as Film Night Discussions, Book Club Meetings, hikes and camping trips, cultural excursions, outreaches, introductory sessions, museum tours, and more.
WYA is encouraging committed members to pay it forward and open up a WYA Chapter in their school or region.Starting a chapter is easy! All you have to do is contact your Regional Director, accomplish the Certified Training Program, and begin to plan your chapter activities and events for the year! Easy, right? Take a leap, make a change, and pay it forward by opening a WYA Chapter!
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.