Not everyone at their young age is given the chance to go abroad to participate in any international event and meet fellow young people from different countries for free. That is why I am so thankful for the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) for giving me the opportunity to be part of the Change Agents Program from 2012 to 2015.
The year 2012 has been an important year for me as it made me experienced my first trip abroad and my first attendance to an international event, the Global Citizenship Education (GCE) for Change Agents held on 6-10 August 2012 at Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The Global Citizenship Education for Change Agents is under the Youth Empowerment program of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCA (APAY).
– It started with getting-to-know you and team building activities that gave us the chance to speak and meet fellow delegates from other YMCAs all over the Asia and the Pacific.
– Bishop Tex Gabo, a volunteer of the YMCA of the Philippines discussed the schedule of activities and facilitated the drawing of expectations for the training. The Youth Participation and Leadership Development Committee (YPLD) Chairperson Alvin Kan from YMCA HongKong facilitated exercises on Leadership Development.
– On the second day, Mr. Kohei Yamada, the General Secretary of APAY gave us briefing on YPLD programs, framework and agenda for 2012-2015. These include Youth Empowerment, Issues and Concerns (Global Citizenship), Resource Mobilization and Movement Strengthening.
– Right after Mr. Yamada’s session, Mr. Jose Varghese, former Executive Secretary of APAY discussed the YMCA Change Model where he explained the role of the youth representatives as change agents.
– Early in the morning, we left the Mas Fabrick Park where we stayed for two nights and traveled for almost six hours to YMCA of Vavuniya. The board members and staff welcomed and served us lunch with their traditional food. Later on we were grouped according to the place of our home stay.
– We traveled again for one hour then gave a courtesy call to the military camp Division Infantry 61. Here, their commander gave us a presentation on the current situations in the Madukkulam Village where we stayed for one night. Then we proceeded to the village proper. We were welcomed by the villagers with flowers and a speech from the head of the village. After the short program, we gathered all the children and played and sang with them.
– After that, I, with my two companions went to our host family. The father of the family gave us a tour to their peanut plantation. In the evening they served us with Sri Lankan foods. The family doesn’t have electrical supply, water facility and a comfortable bed to sleep.
– Early in the morning we bid goodbye to our host family then assembled at the elementary school of the village. We worked with the villagers by clearing out unneeded and dried grass and plants near the school. With this activity, we had the chance to speak and interact with the villagers through some interpreters. A joint meeting of the villagers and change agents happened after.
– Before lunch, our group leaved the Madukkulam Village and transferred to Sewalanka Foundation where we took our lunch and rest in the afternoon. By 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon we had our sharing of experiences and planning for our presentation. We traveled back to Negombo YMCA by midnight.
For some photos of our community exposure at Madukkulam Village, check my Facebook Album Community Exposure at Madukkulam Village.
– On the fifth day, we had our presentation of propose programs and closing ceremony in the morning and a beach tour in the afternoon.
– The National Council of Sri Lanka YMCA celebrated their 50th Anniversary on August 11, 2012 where we, Change Agents participated. An opening ceremony was conducted in the morning showcasing the culture of Sri Lanka through music and dances. In the afternoon, we had a city tour at Colombo. We went back to the Mt. Lavinia Hotel in the evening where a Fundraising Dinner was held.
– On our last day, we had the chance to meet Mr. Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, General Secretary of the World Alliance of YMCAs (WAY). He discussed the Strategic Framework for Global Citizenship Education (GCE) wherein 200 Youth Representatives all over the world would be part of the quadrennium program to maintain their participation and to be updated to their actions regarding the GCE. He also challenged us to be real change agents not just for our local YMCA but for the worldwide benefit.
This is just the narrative of my experience in Sri Lanka. On the succeeding blog, I will share my reflections and insights with the Training and Community Exposure I had in the humble country of Sri Lanka.