335. The World Youth Day at Rio – why I’m going and what it means
In less than four days I will be on a flight to a city, a country and a continent I’ve never been to and embarking upon a task I’ve not done before in a scale and scope it will offer. I will be one of the few international volunteers from India (four have been selected) helping organise one of the largest gatherings of human beings. And certainly the biggest gathering outside of Asia. (This is the third largest gathering of people at one place after the Haj Pilgrimage and the Kumbh Mela)
I was a delegate for a similar event in Rome in 2000 and ever since I attended the World Youth Day (WYD) 13 years ago I had decided that I would attend one as a volunteer and was keen that the one I would volunteer at would be in Brazil (Some weird fascination for this country because of it’s unique position in South America similar to India’s in Asia). I had heard that when WYD takes place in South America it will be in Brazil as Argentina had hosted one. This dream finally comes true next week and I’m excited to have saved money for this journey.
I have always believed in servant leadership and devoted considerable time over the last 15 years trying to contribute time, money and energy to various causes. The cause closest to my heart is Youth Development and there is no greater global event than the World Youth Day. Read more about this event here and here.
I will be at World Youth Day at Rio de Janiero between 12th and 28th July, 2013 –
(first in volunteer training and then the actual event)
Here’s why I am going:
a) To learn from others how a gigantic event is organised
b) To help in organising it with a week of selfless service (the money and time I’m spending could have easily got me a holiday in Hawaai)
c) To meet other young people from around the world and share my faith, belief and culture
d) To discover a new culture and be exposed to a week full of events that include cultural shows, catechisis, chill-time and more
e) To experience a global event where a million young people are the chief guests and Pope Francis is the guest of honour
What does this all mean to me and to thousands of other young people who will attend as delegates and volunteers from all around the world
a) Firstly, it is a rare opportunity to be selected to be a volunteer and help in one of the departments that is organising the event
b) Secondly, it is going to be a spiritual experience as we journey with strangers who will become friends over two weeks managing various tasks
c) Thirdly, given all the chaos that is affecting the world this event is certainly aiming at instilling a new belief through faith formation and fellowship that there is more good in this world than evil and that ordinary people like you and I can make all the difference through simple acts of kindness.
PS – While the event is organised by the Roman Catholic Church every delegate who is referred to as a pilgrim pays for his or her own travel and registration and is open to young people of all faiths. This event is not an effort to convert but to enlighten and enrich. Indian delegations in the past have had inter-religious delegates. Follow the event at https://twitter.com/wyd_en / https://www.facebook.com/worldyouthday