From Managua, thought and heart

Date: 14 June 2013

International Conference, Managua – Nicaragua – 27 April – 6 May 2013

The days between 27 April 27 and 6 May 2013 were filled with learnings, teachings, courage and love; a path travelled together with general secretaries, professionals, volunteers, mentors and friends who were able to take from this experience lessons for the intellect, soul and heart.

Nicaragua´s capital city, Managua, received us warmly with a 35ºC temperature and a YMCA full of fraternity, commitment and care. The first five days we stayed at a camp and participated in the “Agents of Change and transformative governance” workshop. This activity is part of the Youth in Governance Roles (YGOR) Program which has adapted the Agents of Change component to the Latin American and Caribbean context.

After that we moved over to the city of Managua to join the International Conference and Annual Meeting of the Executive Committee of LACA, where we had to put into practice all that we had learned!

We highlight the opportunity we had as a group of young people to be seated alongside our national and regional representatives to take part in all discussions. We think that this is the youth empowerment we are looking for: Where we talk as youth but with a conscious maturity and with the same level of legitimacy as adults.

During this time, crucial moments were given to exchange views and positions or defend ideas and most importantly to express the idea that we as youth should not have to imitate adults to be taken into account and treated with respect.

During the days we were in Nicaragua we learned more about politics and democracy, and how to apply these concepts within the YMCA. This was an important addition to our previous studies on international relations.

We learned that we will all stop being young one day but that only needs to be evident in our faces, not in our hearts. We learned that it is important that we understand that all generations are crucial and should work together.

We understood that we are the ones who will continue George Williams’ legacy and consequently that we must gain spaces with respect, care and lots of inter-generational construction. We have had the opportunity to learn from the best teachers during this process and through our other experiences so we should utilise their teachings as we move forward.

Also we highlight the World Alliance of YMCAs determination to see youth helping themselves and each other to make changes in their lives and to be the change they wish to create. We really appreciate that people throughout the world are trusting in us, as young people, to improve our YMCAs. It is an honour and a challenging path that we are more than willing to travel.

Today, we have begun to rescue the dreams and hopes of youth and at the same time connect them with the dreams and hopes of directors and adult members of the organisation. This is a move forward for human relations in the 21st Century; we doubt that other organisations in the world are doing the work that the regional and world YMCAs are doing. In our opinion, this project positions the YMCA as a reference point for other movement in the areas of youth, volunteerism and inter-generational human relations.

Being a change agent  is to be a person interested in helping others, to know how to change and to continue to maintain an active involvement in change initiatives. Being an agent provides us with the opportunity to communicate to our communities that our movement is much more than what they see… to say to them that we believe in a better future with more opportunities for all and to achieve that we all have to work together.   

By being willing to improve daily, we can begin to live to inspire love and with our common aim we can begin to inspire the world to be better.

From global citizenship, being a change agent is to build the change together with friends from different places, for all our communities. It is to ensure that we globally position the YMCA as reference point for the service needs facing the youth of the 21st Century.

We learned that to be effective promoters of change we must have good governance and that implies the need to create good power relations between the people and organisms that make decisions. We think that the more diverse the universe of people opining, the more democratic the governance space is going to be.

A transformative governance is one which seeks to generate a change in what has been ongoing, it is about changing the given for something that can be better. The best way to achieve this is to allow decision-making processes to be more democratic and to not just allow room for those with access to give their opinion and see what they propose automatically materialised.

Finally, within all the learning we experienced in Managua, there was also party, food, sightseeing and music. Learning and celebration together created the perfect combination, one that will never be forgotten, a tattoo to the heart, a way to go and a life dedicate to our YMCA.

By Aylin, Nathalia, Maria Camila, Geomara, Cristiano and Silvana