Monday, September 19, 2016

The "V" Power

Looking back to my incredible 2 weeks in Krakow, 2 months ago, I can say that yes, the volunteers have indeed super powers :D

Anywhere you go, you could meet one of those blue hands greeting you to help you find you way, those young people in blue shirts working relentlessly to distribute the pilgrim kits or working in the different venues and event areas and those behind the scenes in social media or cameras, you name it.
Even the volunteers had their own volunteers looking after them!
And they are all smiling to you no matter what.
Wearing the blue shirt and the volunteer bracelet was a privilege for us, to be there making the World Youth Day happen and witness the change and transformation it brings to everybody, including ourselves. 

We were around 19,000 volunteers including 4,000 international volunteers. If you ever passed by the place were we sleeping, in my case at Wisla Sport Center, you would always find volunteers gathered during their rest time chatting, playing music, having a quick snack.. It was challenging sometimes to stay in one place but at the same time it was great you could meet your friends who are not working with you in the same department or assignment and get to know new friends.
This feeling of having a very big family, speaking all languages, sharing stories and experiences and praying together.
The concept of borders or divisions between countries are totally abandoned. We are one big family, we care for each other, we support and help each other. 
This spirit started even before meeting in Krakow. In the Volunteers facebook group, everyone was trying to help anyone who had a question or facing a problem. If someone had an information or a tip, it was shared directly, if some volunteers were needed for a specific task or in a certain location, you just announce it.

Going for the volunteer mass, filling the metro and then walking to the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Lagiewniki to attend the mass for volunteers was an incredible experience.
You could feel the energy and the joy spreading all around. I was also impressed by the choir, who was really superb. It was a moment of prayer, inspiration and blessings before starting our work as volunteers.

On a personal level, my experience with the Social Media team was an unforgettable one. It started 3 years ago in Rio for some of us including me, and even more for the few who witnessed its beginning in Madrid.
It was great to reunite again with my friends and to make new friends.
This was my home during the 2 weeks I spent. You could feel the energy once you entered our room. 
Knowing that what we do is perceived by millions, all around the globe, was a big responsibility. Each word, each photo or status shared, was important. We were the face and the voice of the World Youth Day to those who were not present in Krakow and to bring the spirit of the World Youth Day to those who didn't know about it.
For the Arabic page which I was working on, it was challenging to have everything translated in short time since Arabic was not one of the main languages were translations were already available.. yet, the many likes, shares and comments we received made us all proud. 

3 years ago, when I was informed I'll be in the communication team, I knew little what I was about to live. Of course, I had already personal experience with social media but it's something else to be responsible for reaching thousands of people who are following you.
In 3 years, things have evolved and we had also to adapt, new applications, new means for communication and new expectations.
But I assure you, that the hard work pays off. Receiving lot of photos and feedbacks, comments and questions, interacting with our followers was a real pleasure. You feel that what you do matters and is making a difference. It was also a motive to innovate and to be present on the ground, not only online. I've decided to venture and do some facebook live to show the world, first part of the mass and prayers during catechesis, then interviewing pilgrims.

Even if we were not the biggest language or the largest page, I'm proud to say that the number of our followers have doubled and together with all the languages, we are growing over the years. I still remember when we celebrated the 1 Million followers in Rio, 3 years later we almost tripled that figure.

#ThanksWYD for making me live a great enriching experience!

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