The annual Area meetings are very strategic for me to attend. I get to meet almost all the National Movements in one continent at the same time and get valuable time to talk to one leader after the other, one at a time. At the same time I can listen to the conversation in plenary and get a better understanding of what the important issues are just now. It is of course also an excellent opportunity for me to introduce to the movements what the important issues are for the world movement just now.
That is why I headed back to Chile after the splendid celebration in Buenos Aires. LACA, the Latin American and Caribbean Alliance of YMCAs, had its annual meeting in Valparaiso over the next few days in combination with the celebration of 100 years of YMCA in Valparaiso and Chile. So two very good reasons to return to Oscar and his people.
The discussions were primarily about governance and standards and guidelines for good governance. This is absolutely a very important discussion for any YMCA. My experience over many years from many different YMCAs has taught me that success in the YMCA first of all depends on good leadership and good governance.
I got plenty of time to talk about the Sleeping Giant and the collective understanding of the YMCA worldwide and I tried to paint a picture of all the things we can do together as a collective to influence and bring positive change to this world, especially for young people.
The questions and comments were many and well thought through, and as a conclusion I felt a strong and unanimous support from the movements in Latin America and the Caribbean.
When we left for the celebrations at the Yacht Club of Vina del Mar, the spirit was high and the feeling of friendship and fellowship was strong. After speeches and gifts and excellent food, we danced into the late night under the Chilean stars.
After more than two weeks touring the South of Latin America, it was time for good bye, and it was with heavy heart I waved good bye to my old and new friends.
On the other side I was on my way to Prague and the meeting of the European Movement, YMCA Europe. This is my old working place, I spent 20 years of my life serving the European movement, 11 of them as General Secretary, and I looked forward to meet all my old mates in Europe.
I was not disappointed, it was a friendly and warm atmosphere and I noted especially the presence of the YES group, the young people of YMCA Europe, more than 30 young people really gave colour and voice and smiles to the meeting.
Also here I was given time both with the National Secretaries as well as with the plenary to present the Youth Empowerment concepts and the Change Agents and our plans towards the World Council in Estes Park in 2014. My European friends assured me of their eagerness to align their strategy with the strategy of the world movement, and Juan Simoes and the rest of the leadership opens up their Prague Festival in 2013 for the Change Agents and for us to test the concepts and ideas for Youth Empowerment. I am very grateful for this openness and for the strong and unanimous support.
Then it was time to say goodbye to Peter Posner after 16 years of service to YMCA Europe and to the World Alliance. I was happy to honour my good friend and partner over many years. Peter deserved every praise and every good word he got from all the movements in Europe.
I write these words in the air between Atlanta and Denver in USA, I am on my way from Chicago to Estes Park in the Rocky Mountains. SInce I am in the air, no photos this time. More about my encounters in Chicago in the next blog post.