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Intern for change: Jose Carlos Leon Vargas from Mexico describes his first experience of Caux, as one of the interns who ensured the smooth running of the conference centre.

CHANGE RESTS in the hands of those who have the courage to make a different future come true. I started believing in Initiatives of Change this summer after I took part in its internship programme at Caux, Switzerland.

As an intern, I was enriched both professionally and personally. I was part of an international team whose main job was to produce press releases and internal newsletters. When I interviewed important journalists and attended outstanding debates and plenary sessions, I felt as if I was in the UN headquarters, witnessing high-ranking discussions: the dream of every recent graduate in international relations.

The corridors of Mountain House exuded multiculturalism: people from many countries and backgrounds, full of thoughts. This created a stimulating atmosphere in which you could learn about a conflict transformation project in Africa while talking to a specialist on intercultural dialogue working in the United States or India.

Yet there was a more important element: the human dimension that permeated everything. Everybody worked together in the kitchen, dining room and conference hall as equals, without distinction; a former ambassador or a politician alongside a university or high school student, a talented musician alongside a medical doctor. At Caux I understood that change starts by recognizing yourself in the other, by putting yourself into someone else's shoes. This is the filter through which I perceived and assimilated the spirit of Caux.

During the summer, 76 interns from 27 countries worked at Caux, attached to the kitchen, dining room, reception, press team, secretariat and other areas of responsibility. Our contribution was valued not just because we were all volunteers (as are most of those who run the Caux conferences), but also because young people are an essential component of Initiatives of Change. I have never before worked with people who dedicated time every week to ask me how I felt, what workshops or activities I was attending and how this experience was transforming my life.

The days passed quickly because there was always something to do: a plenary session on ethics and business, followed by a workshop on leadership and team building, preceded perhaps by a concert or a walk in the mountains. I found myself in an international melting pot of ideas.

Being at Caux has helped me to take another step towards understanding my role as an individual in an interconnected society. Initiatives of Change is undoubtedly contributing to my personal and professional growth. My ideas are gradually materializing, taking shape, the shape of change.

If you are interested in becoming a Caux intern in 2005, visit www.caux.ch
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Title Annotation:First Person
Author:Leon Vargas, Jose Carlos
Publication:For A Change
Geographic Code:4EXSI
Date:Oct 1, 2004
Words:430
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