On Friday, October 27, World Youth Alliance Europe hosted a cocktail party celebrating its 16th birthday. More than 100 former staff, interns, alumni, and friends of WYA gathered at the venue in Brussels to share old stories and to celebrate the new successes of WYA in Europe.
The event was opened by five special guests: the founders of WYA Europe: first Regional Director Gudrun Kugler, Regional Director of Operations Olivia Raw, Advocacy Director Leila d’Ansembourg and Programs Officer Zrinka Cornij, together with the global WYA founder Anna Halpine. More than a dozen former staff members and interns came from all over Europe to meet up and celebrate this milestone.
In their opening remarks, Gudrun Kugler and Olivia Raw explained the reasons why they started WYA in Europe, and shared stories from the its beginnings. Despite having no money, no office, no phones, and no contacts when it all began, they were ready to invest themselves in making WYA’s mission a reality.
This sacrifice is completely paying off today, as it was shown by WYA CEO and Founder Anna Halpine, and WYA Europe Regional Director, Hrvoje Vargić. From its small office in New York and Brussels, WYA expanded to 6 continents and today has more than 1 million members worldwide. “WYA welcomed 200,000 new members in the last 24 months, built 17 new chapters, started implementing thenHDC and FEMM worldwide, and had an overall 300% growth in the previous 2 years”, said Anna Halpine.
Hrvoje Vargić continued to explain how in the last five years, there was one whole new and exciting WYA Europe being born in its chapters. Only in 2017, WYA Europe opened 4 new chapters in Spain, Italy, Poland, and the University of Navarra. These are apart from the ones that are already existing. “These chapters are communities of young people sharing WYA’s values and working hard to bring WYA’s mission to its local communities. WYA members build their chapters from scratch and continue to welcome new members, training them through the CTP, starting WYA NGO’s, fundraising, implementing the HDC, FEMM, and doing many other exciting things.”
The great atmosphere surrounding the event made guests stay until after midnight. It was very motivational to see how much WYA has influenced so many people’s lives and how all the alumni are still very connected to WYA’s mission.
We are looking forward to many more milestones like this, where we will have the opportunity to celebrate friendships and the future successes of WYA!