YMCA engine room at full steam aboard the high seas!

Date: 24 August 2015

150 YMCA passengers from 60 countries have departed Tokyo for 10 days of training at sea. Who are these YMCA travellers?  They are the YMCA’s future: our young leaders.

“This is so important for the YMCA. If we don’t continue to invest in our next generation of leaders then who will?” said Secretary General, Johan Vilhelm Eltvik. “I feel like I’m in the engine room where we are creating the future YMCA. These young leaders are our engine”.

This training program is a unique mixture of cultures, experiences and training of the second cohort of YMCA Change Agents*. The event is taking place on The Peace Boat**, a Japanese NGO, as part of its 88th World Voyage .  The YMCA group is part of more than 1,000 passengers on board. Interaction, both formal and informal, between the multiple groups living on the ship has a common focus on peace education and training.

“We have been focused on peace for 170 years. To expand our work we were looking for partners to continue our peace efforts and we were delighted to meet The Peace Boat and find that we have such similar values and efforts. We now have a wonderful relationship and are looking forward to this unique and special experience for our young leaders. Together with YMCA of Japan this is all about great partners.” Johan confirmed.

The Peace Boat is a floating training centre with full training facilities and meeting rooms. Accommodation is in 4 bunk cabins and meals are in communal dining halls, much like a campsite.

“One of the unique benefits of the floating campsite is that we get to stop at multiple locations and visit different YMCAs in those places.  Many of the young leaders have visited YMCAs in Tokyo and Yokohama .  The stopover  in the Philippines includes the opportunity to stay overnight with the local YMCA and participate in their program and serve the local community, “ said Johan.
The training programs have a wide range of practical leadership and other skills-based learnings. Goals for the visit including building a dynamic global team, growing their skills and leadership and deepening their understanding of the movement.

The relationship with Peace Boat began earlier in 2015 and this is the second journey with YCMA passengers aboard.  Further journeys are planned, including a European trip***  between Venice and Barcelona from October 1-9, 2015.

A media conference was held on the morning of departure, in conjunction with Japan YMCA, with a focus on calling for peace policy for the Japanese Government. Two of the YMCA Change Agents participated in the media conference; Sofia from Sweden and Andrew from the USA.

The Peace Boat gave the YMCA an enthusiastic and  warm welcome, including involvement in the public speeches on departure. Mari Cruz from Spain shared a powerful message:
“Here we have the opportunity to make a difference, to create a global network, to listen and learn from each other. We have in our hands the possibility to make it happen.  And I am not talking about these ten days, or these two years program. I believe we have made a life choice. We want to empower young people and we want to make it happen. If a lot of small people in a lot of small places do a lot of small things, together they add up to big things – and these can change the  world. LETS´S BE THE CHANGE!”

YMCA Change Agents come from all continents:
Europe x 63
LACA x 8
Asia & Pacific x 47
USA x 1
Africa x 25
Middle East x 6

“This is unique! Who else but the YMCA could give such a life experience to their leaders of tomorrow? I’m so convinced that the YMCAs of the world will benefit greatly from this leadership training and Change Agents program, this connection of our young people, and this learning from Peace Boat. This is movement strengthening to the max! This is youth empowerment to the max also!” said Johan.

*YMCA Change Agents are young volunteers and/or staff from YMCAs across the world.  Change Agents strengthen the YMCA so the YMCA can serve more young people. As part of the World YMCA OUR WAY Strategy 750 Change Agents are planned by 2018.
** Peace Boat:  peaceboat.ymca.int
*** 3rd YMCA Peace Boat voyage from Venice to Barcelona, October 1-9 2015.

Further information:  jose@ymca.int