Hello from Seoul, South Korea! Today is the first day of the 3rd annual Model International General Assembly, or MIGA III. Similar to a Model UN conference but with a Red Cross Movement focus, this event has grown from a regional experiment to a global affair, with nearly 200 youth from 48 national societies attending.
This is the first time the American Red Cross has been invited to attend. Aparna Ghosh, American Red Cross National Youth Council member, and I are representing the American Red Cross. Aparna’s focus while at MIGA will be as a youth representative, creating connections with other youth, learning, and sharing best practices with our fellow national societies. My focus at MIGA, however, is on peer education. More than just a contemporary buzz phrase, peer education is vital to the Red Cross Movement, and plays a major role in our domestic IHL programs.
MIGA is a prime example of peer education at work. Hundreds of young people are engaging with each other to debate pertinent global issues, often related to IHL. They are from all over the world, including Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Australia, and Afghanistan each bringing their own experience to the table while endeavoring to work as a common Movement. On a practical level, we educate each other to accomplish a mission, combining our areas of expertise and knowledge to form cohesive delegations that can tackle complex issues. While I am familiar with IHL and gender issues, I rely on my colleague from the Japanese Red Cross in areas of disaster risk reduction, and my colleague from Korea for ecology. Only together can we tackle our workshop’s topic – climate change and conflict.
It’s no coincidence that last year’s Global Youth Conference in Sydney, Australia had more youth in attendance than any year in history. The momentum around youth programs, especially peer education is growing, and MIGA III is just one example. In the United States, last year’s IHL Action Campaign reached over 24,000 youth, and we’re seeing unprecedented growth and interest in the program for this coming year.
I’ll have more news from MIGA over the next week, but I know that lessons I learn in Seoul will impact my work in the American Red Cross for years to come, as well as influence my own views of the world today. That, at its core, is what peer education is all about.
Author: Joseph Gibson, Program Associate, Peer Education, IHL, American Red Cross