Youth Advocating for Peer Education

From left to right: Aparna, Joe, the representative from New Zealand, and the representative from Brazil

This last week, Aparna G. from the National Youth Council and I took part in the 3rd Annual Model IFRC General Assembly, or MIGA. This extraordinary event, hosted by the South Korean Red Cross, brings together 200 youth from approximately 50 Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies to learn, debate, and, ultimately, take action on international issues.

Within MIGA, our workshop addressed the promotion of peace and non-violence as it relates to conflicts driven by climate change. Participants at MIGA identified peer education based programs as the most effective to address this issue. A peer education approach creates direct communication and shared learning, both of which were acknowledged to be critical by the host of professional speakers during the MIGA opening session. In a world with rapidly evolving communication mediums, in particular social and mass media, the power of peer-to-peer communication should not be underestimated. The American Red Cross has embraced this model, especially with our most successful youth programs. A good illustration of this approach is the IHL Action Campaign, which is entirely based on peer education.

Our delegation’s experience in peer education was invaluable during MIGA, and resulted in the American Red Cross head of delegation winning the Henry Dunant Award. As the highest individual honor awarded during MIGA, it is presented by the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, Tadateru Konoé, and represents outstanding leadership during the conference. It is no coincidence that the American Red Cross delegation spearheaded a push for a peer education program throughout the MIGA. It’s simply the best tool in our arsenal to educate, engage, and inspire young people to action.

The amount and quality of work done by the participants of MIGA stands as a testament to the eagerness of young people to participate in our humanitarian mission, and I know it won’t stop with end of this year’s MIGA. As a representative of the American Red Cross, I am appreciative of the opportunity to participate in MIGA, and hope to continue this strong relationship between our National Societies in the future. I’d also like to say thank you for the incredible hospitality of the Korean Red Cross, and the opportunity to make connections, meet new friends, and learn from them all.

Author: Joseph Gibson, Program Associate, Peer Education, IHL, American Red Cross

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