While YMCAs across the world exist and function as their own organisations, they all share common values and goals. When people from different YMCAs meet, they often describe an automatic sense of belonging that comes from the mutual understanding of what it means to be part of the Y.
Being an international organisation, the chance to collaborate, share skills and build partnerships around the globe opens doors to many opportunities that simply wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
YMCA Victoria firmly believes in creating opportunities for its staff and volunteers to grow professionally, step out of their comfort zone and discover their own potential. One way of doing this is the international internship program YMCA Victoria has participated in for the past three years.
The internship program is run with partner organisations Osaka YMCA and the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong, enabling young people from the Y an enriching cultural exchange experience in these two places.
This year, two groups of young staff and volunteers participated in the internship program in various roles including camping, aquatics, health and wellness, conference facilitators and communications.
Ally Paleo, a YMCA volunteer for the Community Development and Youth leadership and Development Units, completed a camp internship at the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong.
“I worked with children on summer camp programs; programs which we wrote and ran together. That is pretty similar to what I do with YMCA Victoria, so it was really cool to work in the same sort of capacity but from a completely different cultural and social perspective,” Ally said.
“Working on a program in a foreign country, with fellow interns who have also come from all over the world certainly brought cultural, linguistic and social challenges. But, all of that taught me so much, and the friendships and experiences that came as a result made every challenging moment completely worth it.
“In working with interns from YMCAs around the world and finding a home at the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong, I learnt that the values of friendship, support, acceptance and the overwhelming sense of community that the YMCA prides itself on are universal in branches of the Y all over the planet."
Jared Ng, Health and Wellness Coordinator at Hawthorn Aquatic and Leisure Centre, completed a Health and Wellness Team Leader internship at the Chinese YMCA Hong Kong.
“I’ve taken so many lessons away from this internship. The biggest lesson has been from experiencing a different lifestyle and culture, and how the health and wellness industry provides impact regardless of the size, demographic and education of the community.”
You can read about the interns who headed to Osaka earlier this year here.