IHEYO: Sara; how long are you now being a volunteer in hujo? How did that all start?
Sara: It started about 5 years ago when I was studying Moral Science at university. Through my study of philosophy I discovered being a humanist, but I did not know anything about the humanist community in Belgium as I was raised a catholic. Then there was an invitation hanging on university walls to go to a starting meeting to develop a humanist student movement in Ghent. There I met people who worked for hujo, and they asked me to guide an international exchange. From then on I am actively involved as a board member and I used to be the head of international affairs. At the moment I am the president of hujo.
IHEYO: Sara, since 2005 you are now actively involved with IHEYO while being part of the EC. How do you see the development of IHEYOs work and also the structure of the network?
Sara: We are becoming more professional and more precise on the role we can and should play for humanist youth organisations all over the world. When I first started as a volunteer, I had hardly any idea of the circumstances humanists have to face all over the world. In Belgium, humanism is recognised by governement as a life stance, it is teached in schools and we get financial support. Now it is clear to me this is a rather unique and certainly typical European situation. For me one of the main goals of IHEYO is to connect people so that they can exchange thoughts and experiences that broaden ones view on the world we are living.
in. IHEYO: You are now the President of hujo and furthermore the 2nd Vice President of IHEYO. How is it possible to combine these both seats with your professional education way, your studies or are there some parallels in the working procedures for you?
Sara: Professionally, I am teacher of non-confessional lifestance for mentally disabled youngsters. As a fulltime teacherjob in Belgium leaves enough room for volunteerwork, I can quite handle it though in some periods it is rather hectic and social life sometimes then from it.
IHEYO: When you look back to your active period in hujo and IHEYO, what was the most memorable moment/situation for you? And when was the worst one, you can remember?
Sara: The Paris conference definitely was the most memorable! It was the first time I was involved in an event with so many different nationalities and we had the best time! The worst one was when we went on an exchange to Finland, and in the group I was guiding some of the youngsters never had been away from their parents. As we camped in very primitive circumstances, it took a lot of energy to make everybody feeling comfortable. But in the end it was a very learnative experience for all of us.
IHEYO: Being part of two big organisations like hujo and IHEYO shows a lot of personal interest and engagement for social or better youth work. What is your wish for the networking of IHEYO and also for the future of all youngsters in the world?
Sara: I hope one day we can all live in a world where one is free to express their own views and critical thinking is accepted as one of the better methods to develop ourselves!
Sara Wastijn, lives in Ghent, Belgium and is 30 years old.