I was 14 at the summer of April 2011. All I could think of was that coming June, I’ll be a senior in high school and I have to step up my game if I wanted to graduate class Salutatorian. I was even aiming to join the 10 Most Outstanding Students (MOST) of Muntinlupa. So that summer, I forced myself to get involved in outside organizations and the first opportunity that knocked on my door that summer was the Red Cross Youth (RCY) Leadership Development Program (LDP). I was just going with friends and I was really nervous because I hated going to events where you have to speak or mingle with a crowd. I was just that type of person.
LDP. That morning I remember waking up having second thoughts whether I should go or not. In fact, I was already composing a text message to send my friends that I wasn’t feeling well and that I won’t be going. But somehow, I ended up going anyway. There were around a bunch of us during that training. I remember walking inside that Red Cross office in Madrigal Business Park feeling like I wanted to run back home, little did I know that it was going to be the start of the most amazing journey of my life. There I met the two most prominent people in my life right now: Kuya Julian, our CSR, and Kuya Reynard, my previous mentor. Two brilliant RCY trainers that inspire me.
Facilitator’s Workshop. After finishing the LDP course, around two days after, which we were invited to join, was the Facilitator’s Workshop. That’s a stepping stone to become an RCY Trainer and conduct trainings such as the one I’ve mentioned earlier. But out of all the people attending, only 7 slots are available to enter the final training
to become a trainer. The thought of talking in front of so many people made my stomach swirl. I was so sure I wasn’t ready for that, and that I probably never will, so the moment it was announced after LDP, I thought it was my last day at RCY.
But no siree– That LDP knocked something on my head that I did attend the Faci. The first level of challenge was to simply discuss something anything within 3 minutes. Easy enough? Not for me. I was shaking in my seat at the corner of the room, getting overwhelmed at what was I getting myself into. I saw everyone else getting ready, practicing around, talking with each other and that moment I was so sure I was never going to qualify that I just gave up trying to come up with a clever topic and just simply discuss my last report in school that time. I just thought ‘the heck with it,’ and in front of the judge panel, I reported just like how I did at school.
After everyone else was done, there was an evaluation portion where all of us will be evaluated by the judges in front of everyone. To my most genuine, shocking surprise, I have received so many great feedback from the scary people behind the tables (yes, I thought they were really scary and intimidating that moment) that I was screaming and crying inside my brain. I know, it sounds childish but it really was a life-changing moment in my life. I don’t expect much from myself. 😉 They said they were speechless and they were surprised at my presentation because a few minutes ago they were thinking I was the weakest at the group sitting there at the corner and then all of a sudden– well, I guess they were surprised I could speak.
YITC. In the end, I was top 1 at that challenge and the rest is history. I actually got in the top 7 slot and went my way to the final battle— the Youth Instructors’ Training Course (YITC) held that time in Pililla, Rizal Province. It was the most terrifying, stressful, painful, emotional (and all other synonymous adjectives) 18 days of my life. I didn’t know how I survived those but it left a strain (both positive and negative) in my existence. But all the physical, mental, emotional, and even psychological trauma I have gone through was worth a lifetime. I came out of that training, surely traumatized by the experiences, but stronger than ever. I felt a different person and I had a revelation that my life is about to change big time. Being included in the top 10 YITC graduates, where 28 other people coming from different cities and provinces embraced by the Rizal Chapter attended, was the most rewarding feeling I have ever had in my life.
From then on, I have never stopped being passionate about serving the Red Cross Youth. I was exposed to different events and different people. Being a Red Cross Youth Certified Trainer is my proudest achievement. It has become one of my greatest passions in life to help people as much as I help myself grow through them. Every time I get notified to conduct a training, I don’t think of how scared I’ll be in front of them, I look forward to have fun and learn with them. But of course, I still have my moments. I’m not perfect. 😉
But my treasure in all this is that I have found a haven. I built relationships with people who have been my family ever since.
Oh and no, I didn’t get to be part of 10 MOST that year, I wasn’t class salutatorian either. But I graduated Class Valedictorian… and all for the right reasons.
The Red Cross Youth prepared me to be a better version of myself, and everyday it reminds me of the many beautiful things in life— the pursuit of knowledge, happiness, self-improvement, and most importantly, the happiness in serving and helping others. All the hard work, late night meetings and events will always be worth it. Because I am becoming a better version of myself, one who believes that helping others is as much as helping one’s self.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my Red Cross story. What’s yours? 🙂