“This is a true story of six strangers picked to live in community and work together to find out what happens when people start getting REAL!”
When we kicked off the GLOBAL CITIES FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM in Hong Kong we felt like we were getting ready to live a season of MTV’s Real World “Young Life Young Life.” We didn’t know exactly what would happen if we put three 22-year-olds from all corners of the earth in one global city to live and work together for two years. It had the potential of getting messy really quick. What happened was nothing less than a miracle and far exceeded our hopes and dreams!
There are primarily two needs of every Young Life area: 1) People, and 2) Resources. Since Hong Kong Young Life’s beginning five years ago, our biggest need has been — PEOPLE! People who understand Young Life and the unique culture of Hong Kong. We had open doors at schools but didn’t have the people to walk through those doors. Since we were too young to have “grown our own,” we needed to find a creative solution, which birthed the Global Cities Fellowship. The fellowship was initially a two-year program designed for young people with Young Life experience to come to Hong Kong to be team leaders and be a part of a training leadership program all done in community to eliminate loneliness and build a greater sense of team. Time, Experience, Responsibility, Community and Fellowship became some of the tenants of this program.
We expected to have all Americans but ended up with one American , one Thai and one of Nigerian-British heritage. We couldn’t have designed things any better. Why? Because of their intentional community! They each were able to bring and share their knowledge and experience of Young Life, Hong Kong culture, and youth culture. Each week they spent three hours in training together growing in Christ, learning Young Life principles, and discussing how to implement them in Hong Kong in their individual school context. They also lived life together — shared apartments by gender, socially hung out, were inclusive of each other and treated each other like family. We learned that the combination of experience and background was far greater than just having people come who know Young Life. The fellows’ diversity has made us a much stronger team and continues to breed more diversity and unity as we identify future cohorts. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133: 1).
The benefits far outweigh the costs of the fellowship, but they are still a reality. Hong Kong is the third most expensive city in the world, and providing housing for the fellows is expensive. Also Hong Kong Young Life currently carries a majority of the burden of their cost as opposed to the traditional Young Life sending process, and your situation may be different. That being said, the fellowship answers our need for a pipeline of staff associates and helps us “grow our own” faster and develop a rich environment of diversity and cultural understanding, making our team stronger together.
Cohort 2 (Hong Kong Young Life Season 2) launched this past month with the orientation of three more fellows each with their unique background to Young Life, Asian culture, Hong Kong school culture, and Hong Kong culture. We are excited to see the outcome of this group’s community. There is a cost to community — but it is a small price to pay!
If you are interested in talking more, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Suzanne Sittko (email@example.com)