Young Leaders See the World Differently, Thanks to Plan's YUGA Summit
Ariadne first heard about the Plan International USA Youth United for Global Action and Awareness (YUGA) Leadership Summit as she was heading into her sophomore year at a New York City high school.
“The service counselor at our school told us about this leadership summit and I really didn’t know what that entailed,” she said. “I knew we would be learning about some global issues, but I really just didn’t know how involved it would be. I googled it and realized that this was an international community and that really interested me.”
Ariadne traveled to Bristol, RI for the 2013 YUGA Leadership Summit, where she quickly learned that the summit was more than just your run-of-the-mill leadership camp.
“I really enjoyed getting to meet people from all around the world and getting to know how they live, learn, and about their culture,” she said. “[I learned] how they view topics that I might view differently by talking to them, getting to know them, and trying to see the world from a not-so-American view, but from a citizen of the world view instead.”
The summit was life-changing for Ariadne, and she brought her experiences back to her high school.
“I first heard about YUGA through Ariadne,” said Ariadne's classmate Miki. “She did a presentation at school kind of early on in the year, talking about her experience at the Summit and also about Because I am a Girl and International Day of the Girl. That got my attention right away.”
In addition to Miki, Ariadne’s presentation caught the attention of fellow classmates Isabella and Nicole. Her enthusiasm for the summit shone through and, before long, Miki, Isabella, and Nicole were anxious to join her at the 2014 summit.
Although Conor didn’t attend the same school, Ariadne recruited him as well.
“I’m interested in leadership and I was interested in learning more about global issues,” he said. “Ariadne came and told me such great things about it. It really made me decide that I wanted to do that during the summer.”
The five New York City YUGA leaders weren’t let down at this year’s summit. Attendees attended lectures and workshops on water supply, violence, global warming, and humanitarian law.
“Learning about what is currently going on and how things become so war-torn and how different countries experience such difficulties, I think it brings it into perspective how we are in a nation where that doesn’t happen for us,” said Nicole. “But, it is still is a problem that exists worldwide.”
For Isabella, a workshop on violence was eye-opening.
“You hear the definition of violence and you know what it is, but in the workshop we learned all of the individual pockets, how people see it, and where it comes from for different people.”
The five New York City leaders hope to bring what they’ve learned back to the Big Apple.
There are plenty of ways to get classmates involved.
"..I think one of the things that we want to bring back to the school this year is the Because I am a Girl campaign.” said Nicole.
“[YUGA has] given me so many resources that I can take advantage of and bring back to my community,” added Ariadne. “… Just being able to expose other people to this is just amazing.”