The best learning experience in life is not about the knowledge that we receive from books and lectures inside the classroom, but from stories and experiences that we gain from people and places. I have attended a lot of symposiums before but immersing myself in a foreign city through accomplishing group tasks and community visits made my learning experience different among others. In the YMCA International Symposium, I felt unity among global youth leaders towards one advocacy of transforming our world to a better place. I had an encounter with different young leaders and young professionals who serve and work for their own communities. I really enjoyed my conversation with them because I know that through our exchange of stories, there is also a formation of a learning synthesis.
My greatest learning experience in the YMCA IYS is the city hunt. In the city hunt we were able to get to know more about the lifestyle in Hong Kong, the characteristics of its people and the history of its places. Aside from the technological advancement and financial stability of Hong Kong that led to its progress, one vital factor that contributed to such condition is the discipline of its people. There are no traffic enforcers on the streets because people consistently follow stoplights and traffic rules. In their streets, the stoplights have features that is pro-PWD citizens and I think that is a proof that the country provides equality and able to provide and respond to the needs of its PWD citizens.
As I observe around the city, I noticed that life in Hong Kong is very fast-paced. People really value time and make it to a point that they follow their itinerary for that day. I thought if only Filipinos also follow the same idea of time most likely we will be able to accomplish a lot of important things.
Bulk of ideas was presented during the plenary session but there was one thing that remained to my mind until now, and that was Hong Kong’s “Cross Pollination of Ideas”. According to the speaker, it’s a strategy of project planning in Hong Kong wherein they combine two different ideas that rarely go together. For example, education and adventure, one organization came up with an adventour wherein they travel in order for them to reach the underprivileged community in HK. They travel and at the same time, they enjoy. People in the Philippines are challenged with coming up with social innovation, I think maybe it’s because of the fact that there is financial constraints and also, we cannot risk that much for innovation.
Aside from the unforgettable memories with my fellow delegates, I think there are three significant takeaways on the YMCA IYS that I was able to bring home. First is discipline. Second is the essence of valuing time and third, is the effectiveness of cross pollination of ideas.
Being sent for an international symposium is a rare opportunity and believe that one way for me to share what I learned to others is through imparting to them not only the stories but most importantly, the values that I learned from the event. I will apply those learning points in FEU by living on them and including it in my system. For discipline and valuing time, it should be well-incorporated in my life as a student for I believe that transformation should first start within ourselves. I think one strategy that FEU student leaders and other organization should adopt is the cross pollination of ideas. I think if one institution wants to have social innovation, they should follow the strategy of cross pollination of ideas. I think through it, organizations can produce projects and programs that deviate from the usual.
Learning from people and experiencing their life first-hand is how the YMCA IYS enhanced my leadership skills. Getting to know the life in HK through the stories of my HK local friends made me realize that there is really a far comparison of Philippines and HK. Asking them the process why they think they became a developed country gave me a heads up on the strategies that I might apply on the community initiatives that I do here in the Philippines.
Another is cultural sensitivity. Interacting with different youth leaders from different countries made me know their distinct attributes and their needs. I got to learn how they act and it gave me added knowledge on how I should properly mingle with them. In a macro perspective, I also saw some commonalities of their societal needs in my own country. As we draw the problem-solution scheme I got to know the possible simple ways that I can do to aid the same problem in my country.
YMCA International Youth Symposium
Dec 29, 2013-Jan 02, 2014
Youth Square, Chai Wan, Hong Kong