YMCA World Magazine

Good Bye YMCA World!

YMCA World - December 2012


YMCA Developing Young Leaders

We are at an important crossroads in the development of our communication strategies and related tools.

Since the launching of the World Alliance Strategic Plan ‘The New Way’, many changes have been introduced with regard to how the World Alliance communicates and builds awareness of its constituencies.

We have now reached a point where we have to say goodbye to something which is much loved and part of our history; Yes, the current issue of the YMCA World is the last printed version of this legendary magazine.

It took courage and vision to take this step but it is comforting to know that the rationale for ending such a traditional way of communicating is because we now have the means to produce something more up to date and with a far wider reach.

It is not easy to write the last editorial of such an historical and deeply rooted part of our world movement but, as you know from our Christian tradition, “ unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12, 24

I could not trace when the first magazine was published but I found that, at its inception, there was a quarterly periodical called World’s Youth. This later gave birth to World Communiqué in 1947.

World Communiqué informed YMCA members about the developments taking place in YMCAs around the world, in order to inspire YMCA members to realize the Christian objectives of the YMCA at all levels of its activity.

The bi-monthly publication, World Communiqué gained acceptance rapidly. By 1948, 8,000 copies were published along with German and French editions. The publication became popular and reached 22,000 copies by 1954. The magazine was a welcome source of news that appeared five or six times a year.

Since 1964 it has been published in English, French, German and Spanish. Special issues were published on topical subjects such as ecumenical developments, international affairs, health and physical education.

In 1993 “World Communiqué” progressed to “YMCA World”. It was hoped that the new identity of the magazine would inspire and remind the YMCA constituencies that they live in a new age and that the demands of that age are different from those of the past. In the YMCA, the 90’s were marked by moving beyond the charity or project phase and entering new areas of work that mobilised people to address the root causes of the problems. This clearly shows that each era adapts to its realities with appropriate tools.

The time has come for the YMCA World, like the seed, to “die” so that it can become a new tree.

Over the last 5 years the publication has dropped to less than 2,000 copies. There is a clear lack of interest from active subscribers in the magazine either because of the content or because of a change in the interest of the key audience.

That is why it was decided to phase out the publication of YMCA World and to explore new avenues of communication that reflect the realities of our digital era as well as the needs of the various audiences.

Today the core focus of the World Movement is on Youth Empowerment and all strategies, and tools are being aligned to build ownership by the Youth. The new generation of the YMCA Magazine will be an online publication which will target different key audiences. Its main target will be to reposition the YMCA with a clear message; YMCA empowers Young People.

At the end of an era, we shall say goodbye to YMCA World so that a new generation of publications can come to life. Remember, if the seed does not die there will be no new plant.

This last issue of YMCA World takes us back to the Spirit of “World Youth “ and focuses on “Youth Empowerment as the core identity of the YMCAs worldwide”. To illustrate this, we are taking you to Latin America and the Caribbean to hear their stories on how they empower the young people and transform their lives.

The YMCA is a great Movement with its unique culture and traditions but from time to time it knows how to let go and reinvent new spaces and ways to pursue its mission.

Good Bye YMCA World!

Carlos Sanvee
Dec. 2012

Full PDF Version of YMCA World - English
Full PDF Version of YMCA World - Spanish

YMCA...an Empowering Space for Young People

YMCA World - June 2012

Editorial - YMCA World - June 2012

By Carlos Sanvee - (written in April 2012)

Easter, for me, has always represented an invitation to reflect more personally on my faith and spirituality.  While Christmas is a period of celebration, Easter becomes a time of  introspection.

This year, Easter became a very unique reflective period for me in the midst of major YMCA movement shaping activities in Nairobi, Kenya. During this holy week, the YMCA World leaders came together and were actively involved in the strategic meetings held to prioritise and create an agenda for Youth Empowerment as the core focus of the World Movement.

While our thoughts and discussions followed a well designed process to describe and recount the various dimensions of the core focus of the YMCAs worldwide,  I was,  in my own way, reflecting on the link of this crucial stakeholder’s meeting to my own faith and spirituality.

On the one hand, I was reflecting on the path Jesus made on his last journey from Jericho to Jerusalem and the implications this would have on my own life. Ultimately, in following the path Jesus took, it invited me to embark on my own journey from Nairobi by using Youth Empowerment as the main vehicle.

During my mental and emotional journey I came across this biblical passage:
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” Acts 2:17, NIV

I wonder why the youth and elders are shown to differ in this way?  Why should the youth have visions and the elders dream?  Why visions should come first and dreams come later?  Is it intentional?  How could this passage be applicable to us today?

Those who work with dreams professionally, such as psychoanalysts, explain dreams as manifestations of our deepest desires and anxieties, often relating to repressed childhood memories or obsessions.  In much the same way I think dreams are an expression of the thoughts we don’t always acknowledge to ourselves and the memories we avoid.  In my limited understanding of the dreaming mechanism, they seem to represent a close connection to our history and past experiences and a wistful reflection of our desires. Our dreams, then, are deeply personal.

Visions and prophecy, are on the contrary, related to our connection to the future, the unknown we fear, desire or wish to explore. Our relationship to the future and perhaps our visions of the future often extend to those fears, desires and wishes we have for others around us as well.

Youth Empowerment is geared toward the future.  It is about sharing our vision of the world through the same lens young people will use. The scripture I noted previously sees the strength of vision and a determination of our future lie in the way in which the youth view the world. They do not dream of themselves only, they see a vision for progress and strive towards that future with the enthusiasm and energy. I think this is where the scripture was most enlightening. While the youth create a vision and strive for that vision, the older amongst us provide a memory through their dreams and act as guides, not obstacles, that shape and support youth activity.

As much as Easter represents a rebirth, for me it now also represents the rebirth of the youth empowerment vision within our movement.  

Throughout the world, youth face impoverishment, discrimination and suppression of their voice.  In this issue of YMCA World, we see how this is occurring and being addressed in Europe specifically. The YMCA is not insensitive to these realities.  Our mission calls for us to stand for the most underprivileged and the most vulnerable and as such Youth Empowerment should be a concern for all of us.

Embarking on Youth Empowerment is not just a organisational strategic direction, it is also at the heart of our call to serve God and Humanity.

The stories published in this issue illustrate an expression of both dreams and visions. Dreams of how YMCA members in general want to see their societies and a Vision held by young people in their quest for a better future for themselves and the generations to come.

English version

Please find below the English version in PDF Flash version.

You can also download the full pdf version of our magazine, be patient it it a 58 Mega size document.

Spanish version

Please find below the Spanish version in PDF Flash version.

You can also download the full pdf version of our magazine, be patient it it a 40 Mega size document.

Young People: Breaking barriers and transforming their communities

YMCA World Dec. 2011


I recall the story of when Jesus and his disciples went through a grain field on a Sabbath day and the disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate (Luke 6, 1- 4). Certain of the Pharisees around them were not happy to see a religious barrier broken and they complained. Then Jesus told them a story of David who also broke another strong religious barrier by eating the showbread in the temple when he and his companions were hungry. The bottom line of the story is that for Jesus the wellbeing and welfare of God’s creation is more important than the rules and the System which most of the time protect the powerful.

The world is facing an unprecedented mobilisation of young people who are breaking barriers to restore their dignity and transform their communities. We were overwhelmed by the Youth mobilisation for what is now called the ‘Arab Spring’. We are also witnessing the movement of the “Indignant” protesters against corporate greed. Those young people are claiming more social and economic justice and a better governance of the public sphere and the world.

Who could imagine such mass mobilisation of Youth voice before? At the time when the international institutions and the club of powerful people and countries are creating more barriers, new borders and walls to protect the interest of the few, the youth are breaking the barriers of silence, apathy and institutional compliance to the established unjust and unfair orders. The YMCA in its own way is contributing to building a new generation of young leaders who will be agents of the social transformation the world needs.

This issue of YMCA World focuses on the YMCAs in Asia and the Pacific (APAY) region. In our world family the YMCAs in that region are the champions of Global Citizen Education and well known for their outstanding contribution to civil society processes that restore the dignity of the human being in their respective

The Asia and Pacific region is perhaps the most affected region of the world by the side effects of globalization as it has led to the undermining of its rich multi-religious, multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-ethnic societies. The APAY has reported that Globalization has adversely affected Asian cultures by erasing their diversities and richness and bringing home a homogenous western dominated global culture. Since 1995 the APAY has focused its discussion on analyzing and understanding this phenomenon with the help of scholars and experts on the subject.

As the largest youth organization in the world, the YMCA forms an important part of civil society because it represents the interests of the youth and the people it serves. Hence the YMCA is obliged to play a significant role in strengthening civil society to ensure that justice and peace are not just theoretical concepts.

Experiences related in this magazine from Korea, Changmai, Sri Lanka, etc. illustrate the striving of our movement to equip the youth with voice and space so that they can transform their Communities.

Even though “breaking barriers” might seem negative and provocative it is time for our Worldwide movement to go back to its roots and be more innovative and unconventional in addressing the root causes of injustice, exclusion and vulnerability.

The Youth empowerment agenda of the World Alliance calls for the creation of spaces for young people to realise their full potential of co-creator with God for a better world where those who have and those who don’t have are simply human with the same rights and responsibilities and privileges to keep the Earth a safe place for all.

Carlos Sanvee, Editor

Below you can read the full pdf flash version of this magazine in English and Spanish.

EDITORIAL - From Subject to Citizen

From Subject to Citizen - YMCA World Magazine- June 2011

YMCA World Magazine - June 2011

My inspiration for this editorial came from the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat while a storm nearly destroyed the entire crew. Related in Matthew 8, 23-27, this story painted two distinct scenerios.

The first one, which I will call the internal scenario, is about peace as Jesus was quite “Zen” amidst the storm. The second external scenario is about things falling apart. Nature and human beings were out of control.

These two scenes, if painted, would look like what I experienced in the first week of April 2011. Internally, the leadership of the world YMCAs was gathered in Geneva, a peaceful city, to launch the NEW WAY. This encapsulates the new directions of the World Alliance of YMCAs and is aimed at positioning the global YMCA as the leading youth movement which creates space and opportunities for young people to have a credible voice and influence on situations that affect their lives.

Externally, it appeared that the world was going “mad”. From the burning of the Quran in Florida, USA, a week ago and the reaction in chain in Iraq, Pakistan and other Arab countries that week, to the breaking down of the second nuclear reactor in Fukushima, Japan, from that the unrest in Libya and Syria in the Middle East, to the massive killing in Côte D’Ivoire, it seemed that besides the awful event of the wars, the world had reached an unprecedented level of dysfunction.

Internally, the YMCA adopted a new strategy with a key focus on a global brand centred on young people as global citizens. Externally, different strategies were confronting each other with the sole aim of power and control.

While externally the threat of the nuclear consequence in Japan was raising the
questions of sustainability, YMCA leaders applauded their wide range of YMCA activities addressing environmental and sustainability issues.

While internally YMCAs were celebrating their contribution to peace (peace is in the YMCA DNA we said), Syria, Libya and Côte D’Ivoire were as far away from peace as could be imagined. Outside, thousands of refugees were seeking asylum from violence, while inside YMCA leaders were exposing their positive impact in the lives of migrants and asylum seekers around the globe.

Challenges and despair outside and several years of solid experience inside.

But wait a minute... the story in the Bible had a happy ending. The external forces were confronted by the internal peace and the storm was stopped and peace prevailed.

We wish the long and solid experiences of the YMCA worldwide could assist in calming the storm outside in our world today. Unfortunately, as acknowledged in one of the researches initiated under the Partnership in Progress initiative (PIP) in most cases the YMCA impact is more at the local level, as its strategies are mainly deployed at community level and do not necessarily have a deliberate intention to influence policy makers. In the YMCA we think globally and act locally.

The NEW WAY is an awakening process. YMCAs are in the WAY to develop a credible global voice on Youth issues. With the NEW WAY, YMCAs around the world will be able to unite their voices to say “Stop!” to the storm - and it will stop.

This issue of YMCA World is focused on a special initiative of the African YMCAs: From Subject to Citizen, S2C. It is about empowering youth with Voice, space and ability to influence.

More specifically, S2C connects local and global realities and uses different strategies to address issues confronted by youth. More importantly, it equips youth with the ability and strength to confront systems that produce the issues they are faced with.

Moving forward for global citizenship for all!

Carlos Sanvee

Below the full edtion in PDF Flash Format in English and Spanish

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