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Summer Community Newsletter 2008 - Youthline at WYSE

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Summer Community Newsletter 2008
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Youthline at the WYSE’s International Leadership Programme

 Youthline recently gave Grace Taylor one of their youth development workers a life-changing opportunity to participate in the WYSE’s International Leadership Programme.

‘WYSE International’ is an affiliate of the United Nations and is primarily an educational charity which specialises in values and leadership education for young leaders. Grace attended a 12 day intensive training programme along with 30 other participants from all over the world, held in Lucca, Tuscany.

Attending the programme has helped Grace’s personal development in both her profession and in terms of character building, “there were different levels of personal development on the course, some people received personal revelations but for me it was more of an affirmation of what I already have worked through and discovered for myself, she said”

This experience also gave Grace the chance to compare Youthline’s practices against a highly regarded, global organisation with similar concerns. She says it was reassuring to find that “WYSE is parallel to Youthline in many ways, we have similar core values and run programmes very similarly.” Grace thinks it will be beneficial for Youthline to cultivate a partnership with WYSE and hopes to eventually develop an exchange programme between the two organisations.

Grace felt the most important part of her experience was that it gave her “a greater awareness of International Relations and made me realise how isolated New Zealand is from the rest of the world, which was both a humbling and an eye-opening experience.” 

Grace participated in an exercise which aimed to increase awareness about global poverty. She says, “one evening everyone was told to get dressed up for a special dinner. We arrived in the dining room and were each given a description of a person we were supposed to role play and the rule of the night was that we couldn’t break character. There were three tables in the dining room, one which had extravagant food, another which had average food and the last one which had a big pot of rice with three bowls. I was on the poor table and the description I had been given made me lose my appetite. I was a poor, single father in Rwanda whose wife had died and I had two kids to support. I owned two goats and was trying to start a business which was failing.” Grace was surprised at how thought provoking the exercise was and how “ everyone got into character, one of my friends from the poor table suggested that we go and beg from the rich and I was about too but then I felt embarrassed, which really surprised me.”

As Youthline emphasises the “big picture” Grace thinks it is important for youth to be more aware of social and political issues occurring on a global scale as it “will make them realise how lucky they are.” She aims to encourage Youthline to draw from this and incorporate it into youth development programmes.