Did you feel the sound of silence, the smell of August heather, did you see the image of relaxation, the smiles of holidays in my latest blogpost? This vacation crawled itself deep into September and has left lasting impressions of happiness and satisfaction. That is also time to read, and I was reading a book about the famous intellectual and well known art critic and culture journalist John Berger, an Englishman living in French Haute -Savoie, in the small village of Quincy, among high mountains and deep valleys. In trying to describe why such an intellectual giant has chosen to live for many decades in a tiny village in the French Alps, the writer quotes the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, who talked about “deep song”, the essential depths of life, the music in your blood, the rhythm that pumps life to deeper insights and gives you wider horizons. I came out of that period of rest on the tune of deep song and a solid appetite for life and work. It did not feel like charging batteries, it felt like having a brand new set of batteries.
But then I do not wear a pace maker, so I should not talk too much about batteries. But life is good! Full of mystery and solid challenges, scary corners of the road and wide open valleys of peace and tranquility. Before I get any more poetic and enthusiastic, let me dive into the theme of today. I thought I would do something new. Instead of taking you traveling along the New Way, I thought I should take you to my office and share my work plan with you. It is scary, of course, because now you can check up on me and see if I follow my work plan! If I do not, of course I will have very good and creative explanations to why I had to change it, but that is for a later blog post. Now to the Work Plan!
The World Challenge is ahead of us, 13th of October. The idea started in Central YMCA in London and was brought to the Hong Kong World Council by Central YMCA and England and then unanimously approved. We have now developed this idea into the World Challenge as a brilliant opportunity to showcase what YMCA is in the many local communities around the world. The idea is to highlight Basket Ball as the invention of the YMCA, and we are officially supported by FIBA, the International Basketball Federation as well as of UNESCO. It is one of our ways to profile the YMCA as Empowering Young People, to demonstrate that we are worldwide and doing well, mobilizing millions of people in one day, starting in the morning in New Zealand and ending in the late evening on Hawaii. What an experiment, what an experience it will be! 70 countries are involved and thousands and thousands of YMCA leaders are engaged in making history on the 13th of October.
I just came in from the garden having made another video together with Mr World Challenge, Romulo. We have two new and wonderful guys working with us this year, in addition to the other volunteers already engaged, and that is Samuel Diaz Littauer and Filipe Gonzaga, from Colombia and Brazil. Samuel is educated as a documentary film maker and is working full time with us, and Filipe is studying in Geneva and working as a volunteer, a good number of hours. There is not much about social media that these guys do not know, and led by Romulo we are entering a whole new era of using social media. Just get connected on the 13th of October, and if you want to share photos or music with the rest of the world, get connected with http://www.ymca.int long before to get the instructions!
We are deep into the implementation of the Change Agents agenda. Just now 200 Change Agents are being recruited all over the globe, and the same number of mentors is also being recruited, and if you are not asked yet, maybe you should volunteer? This is a train that should not leave station without you onboard! We had the CATT (Change Agent Trainers Team) meeting in Long Beach YMCA in July to prepare the curriculum, we are fine tuning the latest version of the booklet called “Welcome to Change!” and distributing registration forms for Change Agents. The first training sessions have been done, and more is in the pipeline around the globe. I participated in Sri Lanka and now I am planning to do the same in Istanbul for the European Agents. Jose is reporting from India that Bombay was the first local YMCA to pledge fundraising support for the Change Agents, or WAKING THE GIANT CAMPAIGN, as we call it, with US $ 7000.´One Change Agent cost US $ 3500. I am planning to call local YMCAs after recommendations from Area and National Secretaries and we are working hard to reach our ambitious goal of US $ 700 000. We want to do that before Christmas! I know it is the second time I ask, but can you help us?
Another big issue on my work desk and in the Work Plan is the Communication Strategy. we are working with two consultants, both of them seasoned and very experienced in all matters relevant to the YMCA, Bob Tobin from Grand Rapids, and Pat Thompson from Toronto. Patricia Pelton is leading the Image and Impact Task Force of the Executive Committee and she and her team are key partners in these discussions and planning process. A few days ago we had an exciting conference call with those three good people and including Carlos and Selma to plan for the next six months. Bob is working on the overall strategy and some aspects of it connected with the World Council in 2014 and the whole Waking the Giant Campaign, and Pat will be working on three concrete challenges, 1) a solid change from paper based communication represented by our World Magazine to web based communication tools, 2) developing communication material on two of our strategic goals, Youth and Employment and Youth and health, based on ongoing research which we started almost two years ago and 3) developing communication tools to help National Movements to prepare their delegates for the World Council.
As if this is not already enough, we are planning to start another process of research, and an extremely ambitious one, namely what we call 1 Million Young Voices. We are going to ask 1 million of our young people about their view on life and future, hopes and fears. And we want to join forces with all the UN agencies working on renewing and reformulating the Millennium Development Goals for 2015 and onwards and using the voice of the young YMCA to influence that process.
I will continue the Work Plan in the next blog post, now I want to share with you a photo from my meeting with the new President of the European Area, YMCA Europe, my old friend Ed Eggink from the Netherlands. We used the occasion of a private visit to one of the biggest European Quilt Exhibitions in Alsace, France, to discuss a number of issues and plan for a good future together. It was most engaging and fruitful, even if the machinery we had to our disposal was quite outdated and very old fashioned! More in a few days!