The YMCA Europe’s Festive “Love 2 Live” provided a unique opportunity for 10,000 young people from around the world to come together to celebrate life, culture, diversity and celebrate all that is inspiring about being young in Europe and the wider world. Gioia Ige, a teen at the Robert Fowler Y, attended and shares her experience below.
Written by Ibukun Gioia Ige
The YMCA European Festival that was held in Prague was an enlightening experience for me, not only because I got to witness how large the Y movement is, but also because I was able to overcome a personal challenge that I face. The Festival is simple what it sounds like. It is a gathering of teens and young adults from different walks of life, brought together due to their common interest, supporting the Y and what it stands for. I have always been an advocate of volunteering in my community and the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, but after going to the European Festival I realize that I am not solely a member of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta or even the United States, but rather, a member of the YMCA globally. I represent my Y proudly and now I know that there are at least 10,000 other Y representatives just like me who represent their Ys. As a whole, I believe that we are the future of sharing and caring and being advocated for the Y's belief in respect, responsibility, honesty and compassion because we are cause driven.
At the Festival we got to both participate in and host workshops. I participated in a Belarus workshop named "Cow Playing a Violin Flying in the Sky". I chose to go to this workshop because the title was interesting. During the workshop we were given paper, pens and a slip of paper that had what we were supposed to draw about. I got clown and harmony. The workshop was mainly about art so it only made sense for us to become artists ourselves. The second workshop that I went to was a Syrian refugee simulation, which I hope to re-create at my Y (Robert D. Fowler). The workshop that my family group and I did was a "Mini Olympics", named this because we had the participants physically partake in the workshop. They we split up into teams and then the teams would go against each other to win a placement on the litter board for each activity. We had tug of war, dodge ball, an obstacle course and trivia.
This experience challenged me because I usually don't talk to people whom I've never met, yet there I was surrounded by teens from around the globe. A goal that was set for us was to get out of our comfort zones. The exercise that we did to embody this was we were to cross our arms normally across our chest, then uncross them and cross them the other way so our other arm was on top and the arm that had been on top normally was now on the bottom. It was hard at first to do this exercise and it felt awkward to have my other hand on top. It took me out of my comfort zone. The normal way our hands were crossed represented the U.S.A and where our comforts zones are, and having our arms crossed the other way, represented getting out of our comfort zones in Prague. I subsided my fears of conversation and to my surprise everyone was nice and easy to talk to. I guess it could be from the fact that they are all like me with the same drive in life to help others and the whole trip was based upon meeting your friends from other countries for the first time. By the end of the trip I had talked to teens from the U.K, Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, France, China, Japan and Nigeria. In all the Prague excursion taught me a lot and was a very enlightening way to demonstrate the immensity of the Y Movement.