In case anybody was wondering, I am the new member of this year’s YSI Utrecht team. And I joined about 3 weeks ago. I wanted to officially introduce myself. My name is Tanya Selle, I come from Maryland, USA, and I am turning 19 years old on April Fools’ Day. Finally, I am half German and I like to smile and laugh a lot.
Why did I decide to join 3 months into this program you ask? Well let me start at the beginning. For those first three months, no, I was not just on vacation. I participated in another European program called DONE (Development Of New Environments) which is based in Slovakia. The program calls for willing international students who are seeking to receive character training through practical education workshops, community service projects, and fundraising in various countries. The aim is all in the name: to become developers of our own environments. Through my three packed months as a DONE participant, I learned through intense experience that each young person can make a difference and an impact anywhere in the world. The decision and motivation is all up to me and the real power comes when I work together with others towards the same goal. I was actually a participant on DONE 2008 which was when it was first initiated, and I came back again for the second one in 2009. Both of my experiences were completely different from each other and absolutely non-comparable. The first one, for example, consisted of 12 girls and 4 boys. The second one consisted of 5 girls and 7 boys. So I do feel that I’ve had quite a share of going through the two contrasting situations of creating good team dynamics, taking substantial responsibility, finding new ways of supporting each person, and observing how I grow in opposite atmospheres. Words cannot express how valuable the 2 years on DONE were for me, and how they have helped me to continue smoothly into this new experience and adventure that is YSI.
Before DONE I wanted very much to join YSI because it had a reputation for the progress it made solely from the initiative taken by its youth participants, which is what I found to be the most applicable to my life and future career. With the help of my superiors, I was able to wiggle my way into YSI even though I was entering three months late. I was prepared to be the loose link in the team—to be completely unfamiliar with everything; new to the environment; the spontaneity that would come when planning my entire schedule everyday, and to make new relationships with a team which already had set dynamics. This was a challenge waiting for me from the beginning and so I set my mind and was determined to just soak everything up and act as if I had always been here on YSI.
The transition into YSI was a really good one. All I can say is that I felt warmly welcomed by the members, and a slow but sure happiness began to smolder in my chest as the days passed by. I am still finding my true place here and learning how things work from the others—I’m so lucky that they are all so open to help. Our team meetings are more like family reunions and bouts of laughter continually brightening the ambiance of our apartment. Its already feels home here, complete with great family members and daily responsibilities. There is something that I feel is bringing us together more and more with a superglue-like quality—and I think that its unity. A sincere support and effort from everyone is weaving in and out of our relationships, to eventually become a tight-knit family by the end of the year. This is one thing that I would like to bring to the Utrecht community around me, and into my own home.
DONE encouraged me to develop new environments of love and goodness wherever I was, and YSI is putting that ideal into substantial practice. Much easier said than “DONE” of course. So even after this year of service projects and lifestyle lived publicly, we all are never going to be done with YSI. Youth Service Initiative is a lifestyle and a habit that we are all trying to develop in our own lives, in the hope that it’ll make an impact on our families, communities and societies. And together, we can get it done..