Posted by: thebluemusicblog | September 15, 2017


We met in Setubal, Portugal, in the National Park just outside the city. We stayed in tents and in small cabins and we met in a large meeting tent. It was Camping for Change. The first day I shook hands with 150 great young people between 20 and 30 years of age, and it felt like a laboratory of the future – the future of the YMCA! Sure – these people are leaders of today, just now. They are key people for their local YMCAs, but they will be even more so in years to come, as they take over the positions as presidents, CEOs and other leadership roles in our movement.


As they filled the seats of the Portuguese Parliament in Lisbon, they will fill the seats of the World Council next year. We will have a younger World Council than ever before when we gather the three cohorts of Change Agents together with other young leaders at World Council in Chiang Mai July 8-14, 2018.


As we met with top parliamentarians in Portugal, I was able to send greetings to them from the Inter Parliamentary Union in Geneva, where I was invited for a meeting with Secretary General Martin Chungong. As a result of that meeting, two young YMCA leaders from Togo and Nigeria are invited to a meeting of young parliamentarians from Africa later this month. Things are happening fast now.


On this photo you see number two from the left, Mr Soares, the son of the first President of Portugal after the revolution in 1974. He is a former minister of Culture and a leader of the socialist party. The lady in green dress is the former Minister of Finance.


They spent two hours together with our 150 Change Agents from 50 countries. They made me feel so proud by their professional and very mature performance in meeting these politicians, and we had a very interesting political conversation!


Romulo is of course the General of the Change Agents and I am the secretary of the General, or the Secretary General. At least we were both of us very happy to start the Global Gathering of cohort 3 close to the beautiful coast of Portugal.IMG_0741

It was a real pleasure to stand before this great crowd of super young leaders. Imagine that we have the same number of Change Agents soon to meet in Mexico, Change Agents from Latin America, USA and Canada. Next year at the World Council we shall merge the two groups and it will be the largest cohort so far to be seen on stage in Chiang Mai.


Luis Sebastião is the National General Secretary of YMCA Portugal and a great man and a great friend. He told me over and over again how important the annual NGS meetings had been for him and for Portugal for them to find the way and to form a good international network of partners. He and the YMCA in Setubal helped us to facilitate the venue and gave us music, entertainment and all the practical help we needed. Obrigado, dear friends in Portugal!


The training of Change Agents is extremely interactive. A lot of lectures and workshops are facilitated and done by the participants themselves. They really learn from one another. We had all kinds of group facilitation, from Fish Bowl to panels and ordinary small group activities. Here are the Change Agents from Switzerland in active collaboration.


Outside the Parliament we took the group photo after our encounter with the top politicians inside the Parliament.


Lisbon is one of my absolute favourite cities of the world, not the least because of all the beautiful and classic tiles. In many ways it reminds me of San Fransisco with its steep hills and trams running up and down, and the beautiful bridge, made by the same architect as for the Golden Gate Bridge in SF. And all over the city of Lisbon like a wind of Fado – song, the melancholic, but beautiful music of Portugal.


Vasco da Gama sailed out from these shores to discover new horizons, as we are doing the same with our Change Agents, together discovering new horizons. It is an exciting mutual learning process.


Symbols of a great nation of sailors and fishermen.


The rooftops of Lisbon a beautiful summers day.


The President of YMCA Portugal.


Multicultural show from 50 different cultures of the world!


Hotu Iti Araki Zamora to the left here comes from Rapa Nui, the little island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and soon we will have a local YMCA in Rapa Nui.


We had a beach party together with the local community.


We are having a good time!


And so do we! In the middle here Kristina from APAY, who helped us with the training.



And finally the sun was setting over the Global Gathering in Portugal. A fantastic time together for 10 days.




  1. excellent summary and thanks for the comments…

  2. Wow! Fantastic time for the World YMCA movement. Hooray for the Change Agents – and for Johan!!

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