The Exhibition space at World Council : How awareness spreads in meaningful ways

by Kyle Kane, a young volunteer at YMCA World Council

As World Council week ended, I visited the Exhibition Space and spoke with Canada, Korea, and Denmark’s YMCA/YWCA programs to learn more about what they have been doing in their communities to promote a better and more peaceful tomorrow.  YMCA organisations from across the globe have come together at World Council to talk about key issues in their countries. Through these exhibitions, they hope to create meaningful conversations and raise awareness for these issues in hopes of one day resolving them.

Korea

Daeun Yang, Jong-Myeong Park, and Chan-Ho Kim were at the South Korean exhibition. They were raising awareness about the ongoing civil war that has divided the Korean Peninsula for almost seventy years.

The Korean Peace Appeal is a global campaign looking to reach 100 million signatures by the year 2023, 70 years since the armistice was signed. Daeun Yang explained: “We are aiming to end the war. The most critical part is the arms race, especially concerning nuclear weapons. North Korea believes the South’s alliances with foreign countries makes it a target: they are scared, so they will not give up their nuclear weapons. We need to have a peace treaty that would allow them to give up weapons gradually, so that we can end this vicious cycle of sanctions from the international community. We don’t believe that North Korea will just collapse: we need to bring them to international society and give them responsibilities. We don’t want them to change by sanctions, that doesn’t work at all.”

She said Korea has not seen its full potential yet on the global scale. With a nation still divided, so many families have been split up, and the economy is only half of what it could be. By removing international powers from the equation, Daeun Yang hopes that North Korea will sit down for peaceful negotiation and so the war will finally be over. The YMCA, as an organisation that supports peaceful talks rather than violence, has been a very strong advocate for bringing peace along the 38th parallel, so that the northern population can receive the proper support and jobs that they can provide. With a united Korea, or even one that just peacefully exists, world tensions would go down, and we would be one step closer to a peaceful world.

Italy

I spoke with said Beatrice Messina, the National General Secretary of YMCA Italy.  “In Italy, we have nine local movements concentrate in central-southern Italy. As YMCA Italy, the most important thing is communicating to young people that they can be managers, and that they can improve themselves through the YMCA”, she said. The Movement has been working hard to promote its Business Management of Global Governance program. This program, like so many others, focuses on the idea that young people are our world’s next generation of leaders. “The idea is to develop the future management of international crises and emergencies. This training represents a fundamental asset for solid preparation on economic-financial issues, for which the quality of work and professionalism generates value and allows access to an international career”. As an organisation that continues to support youth empowerment, the YMCA Business Management of Global Governance program is a perfect example of how YMCAs are creating opportunities for youth to have platforms to voice their concerns.

Canada

I spoke with Jacquie Remlel, a representative at Canada’s exhibition, where she spoke on how her YMCA promotes inclusivity in communities, and helps refugees find places to work and live.

“The focus in my particular department is on newcomers to Canada, and welcoming refugees – most recently, Ukrainian arrivals to our communities. This is something we’ve been doing for over 30 years, so we offer various services such as English classes and secondment programs. We really help these newcomers navigate our communities and orientate themselves.”

The YMCA Canada Exhibition focussed on engaging members to share what it means to be a part of team YMCA. Their backdrop was filled with brightly coloured sticky notes that had messages such as “Being involved in a global community that’s changing the world” and “Fellowship, impact, community”, which really are what the YMCA represents across the globe. Working with local leaders, YMCA Canada is able to welcome and settle refugees from abroad and help promote sustainability in the lives of local communities