“We are worldwide!”


Sebastian Vogt holding the Paris Basis, Mission Statement of the World YMCA

One year ago, the Staff Placement Program of the World YMCA began. Since then, YMCAs from all over the world have sent professional staff members to work for up to three months in the World YMCA office in Geneva, Switzerland. Mexico, Brazil, Norway, Germany and Russia have already sent staffers and in 2014 we anticipate receiving staff placements from YMCAs in Chile, Italy, England, Brazil and Australia.

One of the most recent staff placements is Sebastian Vogt, 27, a student at the YMCA University in Germany, Change Agent, and staff member of the German YMCA. When asked about his personal experience at the end of his stay at the World YMCA, he answered, “My time here was a blast and I learned so much. But it taught me one thing above all else: the YMCA is a global movement and we are worldwide.”

Staff Placement Duties
Sebastian’s work focused on supporting the Change Agent programme, evaluating it, and facilitating webinar sessions and general communication with YMCA Change Agents from around the globe to prepare them for upcoming events such as the World Council in 2014.

It was especially important for Sebastian to develop ideas for growing the Change Agent programme at YMCA Germany, where he works in a team with three other Change Agents. “In my case, ‘Youth in Action’ funded a project that was connected with the Staff Placement programme and I’m very thankful for that,” Sebastian explains. The project,“YMCA Change Agent Job Shadowing”, aimed to deepen the understanding of how the Change Agent programme related to the professional world by focusing on concrete leadership examples within the YMCA.

(Reference: “Youth in Action Program” Action 4.3 Youth Support Systems: Training and networking of those active in youth work and youth organisations)

In addition, Sebastian helped with research for the “One Million Voices Project” focusing on the topic of civic engagement, as well as with translation work, which greatly benefited YMCAs in german-speaking countries. Meanwhile, he also conducted research for his master’s thesis “Problem-Solving Processes in the YMCA” and wrote articles about how this plays out in different national movements. “I got to know so many inspiring people doing awesome projects within the YMCA all over the globe,” he shares.

Cultural Exchange
The Staff Placement programme is not only about gaining work experience, but about getting to know the work and the faces of other YMCA members around the world. Part of Sebastian’s stay was spent with Misha Guskov from Russia and Sven Larsen from Norway – also staff placements sent by their national YMCAs to work in Geneva.

They shared much more than office time together: “We were sharing each other’s culture, habits, food, because we were living together in the YMCA apartment. We became friends and basically shared life for a while and that established a strong bond amongst us,” Sebastian says.

What will Sebastian remember of his time at the World YMCA? In addition to the work, exploring Geneva, skiing, sports, and movie nights top the list.

More information on the Staff Placement Program