Reflection of Global Change Agent APAY Regional Training, Global Gathering and YMCA175 Conference.
I have come away from my experience in London with my eyes open, my heart full and my head trying to process everything I have learnt.
But how do you even begin to comprehend the biggest event that you have ever attended. Y175 consisted of 4 days of workshops, panels, plenaries and performers with over 3,000 attendees from 100 plus countries. Well, trying to comprehend everything is still something I am working on, but I can tell you this.
Throughout the conference I was captivated by the words coming out of the mouths of young people. Young people who were younger than me, older than me, from different cultures and ethnicities all sharing their life changing experiences.
I was shaken hearing of young people who have witnessed death, in a way that no person should have to deal with. I was enthralled by a young person who was so proud of who they were as they stood onstage and radiating passion in wanting other young people to feel their sense of worth. My eyes welled up hearing of a young person belittled just because she was a woman and not given the chance to explore her true potential as a human being. And I was taken on journeys into the lives of young people who from negative circumstances birthed positive movements.
I was united with other young people in wanting to make the world a little bit brighter and more connected for anyone, and everyone.
For someone experiencing body image anxiety and physical and mental stress.
For someone wanting to express their voice on something that means so much to them.
For someone where an event that occurred 75 years ago in a previous generation still affects them today.
For someone who wants to offer a young person with a disability inclusion in a game at camp.
For someone who wants a safe platform to say ‘I matter and I need the world to know this.’
For someone to talk to another person from the other side of the world and realise we aren’t that different after all.
For someone who believes that mental illness shouldn’t be shunned but instead supported.
For someone who wants to connect with an ally, who says ‘let’s work together’.
For someone to realise how fortunate they are and how to pass on that sense of appreciation.
I hope that my fellow delegates have the same inspiration in their hearts as I have gained in mine.
In such a massive event it was comforting to walk through a hall and have a familiar face smile at you and wave their hand. To put their arm around your shoulders and say, ‘how’s your day going?’. I never fully appreciated the importance of such a simple interaction and the feeling of knowing you mean something to someone, even if you’ve only known them for a few days. My hope from this realisation is to make other people I encounter feel like they matter. Feel like I take them seriously, like they have a voice, like they are valued and important with all the potential in the world to make a difference.
Young people are to be the change in the world and this can be presented as simply as a smile, or saying thank you. Lighting a fire in someone’s heart is the basis of change but there is so much more that needs to be done.
The world can be challenging. From the outside no one knows what’s going on in the inside. What makes one human life more valuable than another one? Nothing. We all deserve basic human needs; to be loved and to have connections. Take the time to, wave, say a quick hello or ask ‘how are you?’ to someone. We can give positive human connections so easily but yet sometimes I don’t think we do it enough.
We are all on this this planet for a reason. We might not know what that reason is yet, but hey that’s a part of life. But what we do know, is we need to work together as people of the world, across the whole world in every age bracket, profession, ethnicity etc. to make much needed positive change. We can all bring a spark into someone’s life, it is just a matter of how themselves, yourself and society decide to fuel the spark, once it has been ignited.
From my experience my spark has been ignited. I vow to continue to nurture my spark with love and fuel it with passion so I can become the change in the world I want to be.
By Tanya Mischler