The annual Meeting of National General Secretaries has started in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is the highlight of the year, the most important meeting of staff, evaluating what we are doing and planning for the implementation of shared strategies. And it is the coming together of friends, and the warm camaraderie that we only experience in the YMCA worldwide. Friendship without borders!
Beautiful Thai opening dances to welcome the secretaries at the opening dinner on Monday night. The dinner was sponsored by Y’sMen International and several of their leaders were present together with their World President, Wichean Boonmapajorn, also from Thailand.
Welcoming words from a happy Secretary General – this is really the highlight of the year for me.
Here the plenary hall in Chiang Mai International YMCA Hotel with all the participants assembled. We started out by presenting what we have done so far in delivering the OUR WAY Strategy since World Council 2014. After that we organised an Open Forum to the World YMCA, meaning that we facilitated a so called Fish Bowl for people to take the speakers seat in the middle of the room and ask questions to the WAY or to give comments and proposals. We had a very good exchange of ideas and experiences and also a lot of clarification of different questions and issues.
Pablito, Philippines, Loc, Vietnam, Peter YMCA of Hong Kong
We then turned to one of the huge successes of the previous weeks. After 4 years of hard work the World YMCA has together with 55 National YMCAs completed the largest ever youth research called One Million Voices Research. Now we were able to distribute to all national leaders being present their individual national research results. They are now all able to compare themselves with the world average, as reflected in the aggregated global report.
Paula, Italy, Luis, Portugal, Alexandra, France
We divided the secretaries according to geographical criteria to analyse and compare the results, and this became an exciting and enjoyable session, the first exposure to the material telling the stories of how young people live in the different countries and what needs they have and what challenges they face.
Raoul, Peru, Antonio, LACA, Gvenael, Haiti
This session was facilitated by Ian Green, who has been one of the responsible for the research work together with Selma Zaidi. The next session was about tips for the movements on how to use the reports, how to present the results. We showed them videos and papers with the highlights of the results for them to use as resource material.
Phyllis and Cheewen Lo from the two YMCAs of Singapore
The next session was about addressing the issues of young people generally. Romulo gave us a presentation of the UN Development Goals and how we as a YMCA relate to those.
Viktor, Ukraine, Ene, Estonia, Adam, Poland
One of those issues is 0f course the environment, and at COP 21 in Paris the World YMCA had a large and strong presence. In fact we rented a whole hostel in Paris and hosted a number of other youth organisations for the important environment meeting in Paris. 400 young people were hosted by the World YMCA, half of them from different YMCAs around the world and most of them engaged in the World YMCA Resource Group for Environment (RGE),
Bunthok, Cambodia, Samuel, Pakistan
Romulo was leading YMCA Camp Climate and organised press conferences and interventions inside the COP 21 meeting as well, as we had received more permits to participate in the meeting itself than any other youth organisations. Great positioning of the YMCA and great advocacy work!
Nirina, Madagaskar, Jared, Kenya, Mukhti, Nepal
Refugees are in most countries of the world today, and they are crossing borders everywhere. The largest refugee camp in the world is outside Nairobi, Kenya. In Lebanon they have had 700 000 Palestinian refugees since 1949 and the country are overwhelmed with hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria. We all have seen in the media how refugees are perishing in the Mediterranean Ocean on their way to Lampedusa in Italy or to Greece.
Robert, the Netherlands,Juha, Finland, Malene, Denmark (Change Agent), Jørgen, Denmark
Europe is also full of refugees, and we were discussing how the YMCA world wide shall respond to this crisis. We agreed first of all that this is a gl,oral crisis, and not just a European situation.
Professor Marek, Poland, Dorina, Kosovo, Alina, Romania, Szilard,Transylvania
Denise, England, Adam, Y-Care, Ron, Australia, Locki, Change Agent Australia
Andrew interviewing the two Change Agents, Locki, Australia, Malene, Denmark
Ian and Jose and Michal, World YMCA Staff
Uni Y Chiangmai gave a thoughtful performance on prejudice and being judgemental, a real eye opener for all people present.
Wichian Boonmapajorn is the World Y’sMen International President and the host for the opening dinner.
A happy reunion with Uni Y Chiangmai after their performance and everybody were happy!
Rachan, the General Secretary of Chiang Mai YMCA gave a beautiful speech to all of us. Our friends in Chiang Mai have been extraordinarily hospitable and friendly – thank you from the bottom of our hearts!