International Reflections: A World of Opportunity
From a humble beginning to serving as a Youth Advisor to the Interamerican Region, Gus Sanchez reflects on his International Scout Journey and gives his insight into how WOSM works on the Regional Level.
I was eight years old and I remember walking into an enormous and loud lunch room with my tray of mediocre school pizza. It was 2001 and I just moved to a completely new school and was forced to make new friends. I sat next to Joseph that day and I quietly started eating my lunch. Cub Scout den leaders were at the school during our lunch talking about camping. Joseph turned to me and noticed my interest “You should join my cub scout patrol!” Little did I know—I was about to join the world’s leading educational youth movement and make 50 million new friends. Fast forward through each rank, camping trip, leadership position and past my Eagle Court of Honor to my first international scout experience.
I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina presenting the bid to hold the 2016 Interamerican Scout Conference in my hometown, Houston Texas. After a couple of days of meeting scouts from several countries in the western hemisphere we finally gathered up the hundreds of folks to take the official conference picture. We had just got out from the key note address from the former President of Ecuador that inspired the room with his story on how scouting shaped his life. The room was alive with scouting spirit and filled with scouts songs and chants. It took us what seemed like an hour to finally get us all still for the one picture. That picture captured a very special moment in my life- the trip that reignited my passion for scouting.
I have had the honor to represent the BSA in many other international events but the highlight of my international scouting experience is being elected to serve as the first Youth Advisor to the Regional Scout Committee in 2016. The role of Youth Advisor is held by a young person between the ages of 18 to 26 in order to involve youth in the decision making process of WOSM. This individual will participate in all committee meetings and discussions, serve in committee working groups and tasks forces, and contribute to the vision of the region.
The Youth Forum trusted that my experiences over the last couple years would help guide the future of the organization in the Interamerican Region. If you haven’t google’d it yet—the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) is encompassed by 6 regions, The Africa, Arab, Asia-Pacific, Eurasia, European and our region, the Interamerican Scout Region. The IAR spans 34 countries from Canada to Chile and the Caribbean islands. There are nearly 4 million youth in the IAR—and it was my responsibility to represent each of them in the Regional Scout Committee. During my tenure as Youth Advisor the region made huge advancements in areas like youth involvement/engagement and gender equality. If you would compare pictures of scout conferences in our region from a decade ago and last year in Panama—you would notice the closer gender balance and lower average age.
The key was better intergenerational dialogue—how do you communicate with other generations, use their expertise and experiences to help us create new ideas to achieve our goals laid out in our Triennial Plan. Every trip was full of great conversations with other people from different corners of the world that were equally as passionate about scouting. We would often talk about how and why we joined scouting; to serve as a reminder that what we are doing is important. So that the next generation of youth and young people have a safe place and progressive program to develop into the leaders of tomorrow. In December of 2018, I finished my term as Youth Advisor and I passed the torch to two new young people that will continue serve as an inspiration for more scouts in the IAR during the next triennium.