WYA reminded me of the power of my voice

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Coordination of Youth Workers of Tomorrow (CYWT) in Munich, Germany. CYWT 2019 gathered 21 young professionals from seven European countries: Belgium, Germany, Austria, Spain, Portugal, the UK and Croatia, for a four-day intensive training.

We were all trained in media literacy, public communication and advocacy on from December 1st to 6th. All four days in Munich were spent discussing important issues concerning human rights and how we, as young workers, can help advocate and defend human dignity and human rights through solidarity, advocacy and publicity in our daily lives.

On day one, we discussed how world leaders such as the Dalai Lama and Gandhi brought positive change to our world and impacted history with their thoughts and political actions. For each workshop, we were divided into different groups. This encouraged every one of us to interact with delegates from other countries and also hear each other’s viewpoints. Additionally, in some cases, we were also able to educate one another who may not have known about the topic in depth. On day one, one group discussed Satyagraha, a form of non-violent civil resistance led by Gandhi in India whilst the other group spoke about Dalai Lama’s speech, which gave us a spiritual understanding of the world and spoke about kindness and the importance of respecting one another as well as world peace. These talks gave all of us a deeper understanding of humanity, not resorting to violence to get ideas across, respecting each other as individuals and why we should always pursue the truth no matter the consequences.

My favourite part of the training programme was when we discussed the white papers. White Papers are statements by WYA which give fact-based information on ongoing global issues. A few of the topics discussed were the issue of abortion, surrogacy, HIV/AIDS and euthanasia. All these topics not only created debates within teams, as many of our beliefs towards the topics were different, but also enabled us to highlight and conclude on solutions to unequal human rights, which were also in line with WYA and its stance on these issues.

The last two days mainly focused on social media, where we were trained to present, pitch and plan campaign strategies with clarity and accuracy. We were also able to discuss major global movements that used social media to their advantage in getting ideas across and raising campaigns for awareness using hashtags. #BLACKLIVESMATTER, #METOO, #LOTSOFSOCKS and #FRIDAYS4FUTURE were the hashtags that we covered. To add, on each day, we had ‘international coffee breaks’ in which the group from each country had to host us all with their traditional snacks and biscuits. It was so lovely being introduced to other cultures as well as tasting their foods!

Many of the delegates that attended the training programme already have an established WYA chapter in their respective countries. In the UK, our chapter just started, so the training programme was perfect in giving us the foundation of our roles in becoming better advocates. It taught us the importance of defending human rights, human dignity and using our influence for the greater good on social platforms as well as in real life. I’m excited for the great things the UK Chapter is going to do in the next few months, so keep an eye out for us!

Overall, I had an amazing time at the CYWT Training Programme in Germany. It was lovely to meet delegates from around Europe who I was able to build friendships with. Moreover, learning about advocacy and the importance for standing up for what you believe in really motivated me to do more. No matter your age, you can make an impact and speak boldly on things in society that you don’t consider just, things you are concerned about and raise campaigns and develop solutions to help better the world around you. You are never too young to make a difference, never too young to make an impact and never too young to change your world. The leadership programme was truly something I will hold onto forever and was without a doubt an amazing week filled with so many gems. Thank you to the World Youth Alliance for reminding us all, most importantly myself, of my voice in this world and using it to do better, be better and make the world a better place.

Published on: January 29, 2020
Written by Sarah Oladokun, a WYA member from the UK