As a young leader, I had the privilege to attend the XXII Red Cross Inter-American Conference as the American Red Cross’ Youth Delegate. It was truly an opportunity of a lifetime to sit alongside fellow youth and National Society leaders and innovate “Local Solutions to Global Challenges,” a clearly fitting theme for the conference.
A total of 34 National Societies gathered in Nassau, Bahamas with an objective of strengthening cooperation among the region’s societies and establishing a shared commitment to addressing global humanitarian concerns.
Within the American Red Cross, I serve as the Peer Outreach Working Group Lead of the National Youth Council, a group of thirteen youth volunteers nationally representing our youth program. Outside of this role, I’m also engaged in our International Humanitarian Law Youth Action Campaign where I guide teams in learning and spreading awareness about global conflicts and civilian protection.
Before the main session of the conference, I participated in a two-day youth event alongside 18 other Youth Delegates representing the various National Societies and IFRC Youth Commission. It focused on bringing together youth leaders across the Americas and discussing what we can collectively work on to amplify and empower youth and young adult voices.
One of my favorite highlights of this event was a visit from Dyanne Marenco González, President of the Costa Rica Red Cross. As a 32-year-old female National Society President, she empowered our group with her impactful words about overcoming doubt as a young leader when surrounded by seasoned professionals and embracing youth as the present, not just the future.
Over the two days, I shared the breadth of resources and initiatives our National Youth Council creates to keep youth volunteers engaged in volunteerism. I received new best practices from others in topics ranging from structures for youth in governance to diversifying content across age groups. I knew I would have great insights to bring back and share with our own youth leaders following the conference. I also realized my growth as not only a youth leader but also a global citizen; conversations about Red Cross volunteerism bled into glimpses of life and culture across the National Societies.
Throughout the plenary session regarding Youth and Volunteerism, it was empowering and inspiring to see the Youth Delegates I had formed such close connections with speak on a stage in front of the full delegations of all societies.
Going forward, I see an American Red Cross Youth goal as bringing youth/young adults closer to staff and leadership through prioritizing interpersonal connections. As for how we interact with our global peers, we must continue to engage with youth across the Americas and further foster these conference connections by increasing the opportunities to collaborate.
This experience has made me feel even more empowered as a young adult that I can directly impact my community and our world through volunteerism. The connections made at this conference and beyond will be long-lasting and I’m grateful to have built relationships with people who share my desire to serve the Red Cross mission all around the world.