So much has happened since the last post. We had a beautiful gala with all the WYA staff from around the world, our International Board Members, WYA interns, many friends and family all in attendance. During this gala I became president of World Youth Alliance and Anna was able to fully claim and enjoy her title as Founder. We were both able to experience and enjoy our new roles in a follow-up trip to Lebanon.
We travelled back to Beirut to meet up with many more young people, and continue to begin the work of WYA in the Middle East. Anna spent a great deal of time working to develop a curriculum which will incorporate WYA materials into a high school curriculum. In this way high school students will be able to study the WYA training sets with guidance from their teachers and to help in completing their high school studies. The training materials currently cover the WYA philosophy on the dignity of the person, UN language which has shaped and been shaped by WYA, developmental issues, and other movements and philosophers who have impacted the development of the ideas WYA works with. Through incorporating this into a high school curriculum the materials will also incorporate local heroes and cultural references to give concrete examples of how this message can be lived in their society and culture.
While Anna was busy working on curriculum, I met with over a hundred youth. The great majority of youth I spoke with became members and understood so clearly the importance of the message of dignity for their lives and for the Middle East. Many of the youth had already begun their own organisations which focused on economic opportunities so youth wouldn't have to resort to terrorism and violence, and on cultural ties which are shared and can bring young people together. They immediately understood how important WYA was to bring them together with other young people they might never meet and to begin to change their society.
We have many members from Lebanon and the Middle East enrolled in our online training program and I look forward to great things happening from WYA members in the Middle East. They are absolutely capable of making the transformations which they see need to happen.
Upon my return from the Middle East, a new batch of interns had arrived at WYA headquarters in NY. We have 8 interns at the moment. We have one Filipina, a Mexican, a Canadian, a Thai, and 4 Americans. They are an excellent batch with quite a range of interests and talents. One in particular introduced himself in an unforgettable manner by pranking the founder. Danny is hilarious and has pranked almost every staff and intern at some point or another, but also takes getting pranked quite well. He is working to organise an Emerging Leaders Canadian Policy Seminar in Ottawa at the end of September. Part of the organisation process involved calling numerous hotels seeking a discount. Clare and Ines, two other interns, decided to return his pranks and called pretending to be Laura from the Sheraton. Laura offered to Danny free hotel rooms and suites for all the WYA participants and guests. She also demanded within 30 minutes to have an organisational profile, letter from the president, and speaker bios. Poor Danny was so excited and panicked trying to get everything done. Then Laura called back, said they now wished to host the event at the Sheraton, to cater the event, and also to open up all their press contacts to WYA. Danny didn't even get off the phone but sent Jordan to get me. I didn't dare break Danny's heart further so I asked him to request a letter from the Sheraton confirming all they had offered on Sheraton letterhead.
Clare and Ines were so shocked that I would turn on them, but came rushing downstairs to say he'd been punked! It took a while for Danny and the rest of the interns to believe that not just the press and catering, but even the rooms were all part of the same prank. He took it pretty well and even managed to wait two weeks before pranking Clare.
So, now we're heading into the middle of our second internship of the year, projects are coming along nicely. We're all wary of getting pranked, and have started Wednesday lunches all together to get to know each other better.
That's about all for now.