Images and Content by Roula Harfoush and Hayley Pottle
Inspiring action begins with thoughtful interaction.
To develop a transformational program such as Global Youth Village, collaborative and innovative individuals are crucial. Without the staff, GYV would not be what it is today. Our team is composed of diverse individuals varying in culture, gender, background, and country. For some, the transition into camp life was smooth in engaging with the rustic setting in Bedford, Virginia. For others, it was a more challenging experience with great reward in the end.
Living in GYV touches people’s lives in a wonderfully magical way. Though GYV is in a rural setting, far from city life, we have just as much going on as big cities. There are constant lessons and activities that prepare staff and participants for situations when interacting with other cultures. In order to gain a greater view of GYV, we asked our cabin counselors, kitchen team, and program staff about their thoughts on training, the overall perspective of the team, and the entire GYV community.
Staff Training Experience Reflection
One of our cabin counselors, Ana from Spain found coming to America for her first time to serve as a staff member at GYV challenging with the language barrier, but by the end of training felt comfortable and excited. “This was my first time in America and in this environment and felt alone, but with staff training, saw it was beautiful.”
Our Environmental Awareness workshop leader, Althea, was excited to return to nature and participate in a simpler lifestyle for a few weeks. “I am excited to strip away material items and see how beneficial it will be for the kids.” Michelle, who serves as a prep cook on the culinary team is passionate about the values and mission of Legacy International. “I liked how in training we dove right into cultural issues- things that matter to others.”
GYV can be experienced in countless ways; the meaning of GYV might be pretty universal. After two weeks we asked our staff: what does GYV mean to you?
A Place of Acceptance
Sometimes we lose the ability to freely express our thoughts and views due to fear of being unlinked, unwanted, or negatively judged by our peers. GYV is a place where people can freely express and challenge themselves with no fear of being rejected for being themselves. There is such an atmosphere of openness and understanding. One of our Cabin Counselor, Jessie expressed that to her GYV is a “Place to challenge yourself and be safe in that.” Our Art Studio Manager, Rachel, emphasized that GYV is “a safe place, I am not ostracized because I want to have controversial conversations. Others are excited about world issues too.”
A Fantasy Experience with Lots of Adventures and Activities
At GYV, every intricate detail has a purpose. Days start from early morning to nights that are proactive and filled with tolerance, justice, understanding, integrity, respect, and peace. Our Dining Hall Manager, Paul, said GYV is a significant stepping stone for his future and is impactful for the participants. “There is the possibility of young people changing their lives and growing in the process.” Ken, our Program Coordinator believes GYV is a “fantasy island and you get to choose your own adventure group, come together to create your own reality.”
A Global Family and Friends
With a diverse community committed to lifelong learning, a global family unit is created. Executive Chef, Parker, feels that GYV “means that I am now a part of family. It is an organization that exceeded my expectations in coming to learn from other cultures and bring together groups, then turning them into a family.” Michelle called GYV a “place that goes beyond minimum.”
Global Youth Village exemplifies values, team work, education, and different ways of looking at the world. There is no doubt that GYV will mean more once the session starts, especially seeing how the participants change with session and the hard work pays off.