“I never believed that a simple yes to open the WYA Austria Chapter at the end of my internship in Brussels would eventually lead to almost nine years of wonderful friendships and a strong community of WYA members in Austria organizing different projects to promote the dignity of the person,” Gerlinde Gufnagel shared when asked on how the WYA programs made an impact on her in the years that followed.
“I’m now a high school teacher and I’m very grateful to have the chance to motivate my students to go for such meaningful experiences,” she adds.
Every year, thousands of WYA members participate in WYA’s regional and international projects, online and offline. Through the different programs organized by WYA Chapters, National Committees and the Regional Offices, WYA members are trained on a person centered approach to development and in addressing our different global problems.
How do WYA programs shape leaders and transform communities around the world?
International Summer Camp
Ryan Hodge attended his first summer camp when he was only in fifth grade. At the time, he was the youngest participant.
“[I was] introduced to the idea of human dignity at such a young age, and it helped shape the person I am today. It taught me how I should treat others,” he shares.
The International Summer Camp is a one-week program where young people from all over the world come together to learn about the dignity of the human person and how this idea can be used to positively and critically engage on global issues.
“It [ISC] offers a safe space to ask questions, challenge beliefs, and find human centered answers to challenges that the world faces today,” shares Monica Sawa, ISC 2014 participant.
In line with this, Xiomara Munoz, another ISC camp “graduate,” expressed that, “attending the WYA ISC will promote a greater culture of respect and friendship between persons from all over the world.”
Emerging Leaders Conference
Similar to Ryan, Kat Flores was also one of the youngest participants when she attended the Asia Pacific Emerging Leaders Conference in 2012.
She said that listening to the discussions and the speakers widened her knowledge on community involvement, and inspired her to think of sustainable solutions for various problems.
“[It] is a great place where youth leaders can learn from fellow youth leaders especially in discussing possible solutions to our current global problems,” shares Dave Mariano, another former participant from Asia Pacific. Dave is currently a public school teacher who helped pilot the Human Dignity Curriculum in his class with the WYAAP staff.
The ELC is an annual regional program that offers young people discussions, lectures, and training on topics relevant to ongoing international policy debates.
WYA also offers tri-annual regional internship programs for individuals interested in the work and mission of WYA to gain professional skills working on WYA’s projects and a substantive learning experience on WYA’s core ideas. Interns undergo mentorship from the WYA staff in the areas of project management and advocacy work.
“Once you join WYA as an intern, you are given a project and see it from start to finish. The support from the entire team is encouraging, but the mistakes, successes and lessons learnt through these projects cannot be compared to any experience anywhere else,” shares Joan Gichomo, intern alumni from WYA Africa.
“I will forever be grateful to WYA for instilling the human person as a priority in all decisions I have made and will continue to make in all aspects of my life – family, professionally and socially,” adds Natasha Elkathiri, another intern alumni from WYA Africa.
These are just some of the inspiring and life changing experiences that our members have undergone in some of WYA’s programs. Many of them have become facilitators and volunteers for the same WYA programs, continuing to be active with World Youth Alliance in helping us defend and promote the dignity of the person. These members have also become leaders in their own communities, starting and participating in projects wherein they are able to apply what they have learned from their experiences with WYA.
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. On March 25, WYA will celebrate 17 years of success in empowering young people around the world and in promoting human dignity at the local and international levels. Give WYA a birthday gift today or contact our regional offices to make a donation for any of these programs. Your contribution helps us build a better world.