This July Andy Alegre, 2021 Goldin Global Fellow from the Philippines, engaged in the Regional G20 Interfaith Meeting in Manila (the capital city of the Philippines), moderating a session focused on the online sexual exploitation of children.

In this piece, he speaks to Goldin Institute about his experience at the meeting and lessons learned. He also shares a few tips on communicating and working with people from diverse backgrounds while respecting differences to solve issues affecting the community.

Andy, a people person, also emphasizes the importance of being a Global Fellow and how it has offered him global perspectives obtained from his peers during the weekly roundtable discussions and connections, and as part of the monthly Alumni network roundtables.

He starts our conversation with the Regional G20 Interfaith Meeting in Metro Manila. The five issues highlighted in the meeting were: 1. the interacting demands of climate reform and humanitarian action, 2. emerging challenges of online sexual exploitation, 3. trafficking and modern forms of slavery, 4. children’s education concerning their rights, especially in conflict and abuse situations, 5. protection of freedom of religion and belief.

“It was an excellent opportunity for me to actively know, engage, share, and learn from faith leaders and experts from the government, non-government organizations, and communities on issues that affect most Filipinos.” — Andy Alegre

The engagement and meeting were significant for Andy, his advocacy, and his community because, according to him, they amplified the issue to various leaders and promoted collaborative recommendations and action.

The Importance of Embracing Differences

After the plenary session of experts sharing the five topics, almost 90 meeting participants were divided into five groups based on the thematic areas. Andy moderated one of the breakout sessions, focused on the online sexual exploitation of children, with 29 attendees which he states did not go without its challenges.

“The breakout session was designed to elicit recommendations from attending representatives from various government agencies, non-government organizations, faith-based communities, and networks. I started by calling in some discussion starters to share challenges, best practices, and initial recommendations on the issue.”

Andy recalls that one of the challenges moderating the session was balancing the time for all breakout attendees to elicit valuable input and stay on the course of the discussion quickly.

“Some participants wanted to share much input, but the session had a limited period, and I had to gently remind them to wrap up so as not to take the time reserved for others.”

Another challenge, Andy adds, was summarizing the main points shared and ensuring that all recommendations were captured when wrapping up the discussion.

Since he engaged with representatives from the government, church institutions, academia, and faith-based organizations, he also shared some advice on how to best work with people from different backgrounds.

He reminds us of the importance of valuing anyone with a unique way of expressing, responding, and contributing to solving an issue that affects us.

“Embracing differences and respectful acceptance are approaches I use when working with people from various backgrounds. I also ensure to address them with the title that they want to be addressed. It is also helpful for me to engage these various representatives because of my experience serving in these institutions and knowing the system and culture.” — Andy Alegre

Andy believes that being respectful and open are valuable traits that allowed him to be successful in his engagements.

GATHER Platform – An Inclusive and Diverse Program

Andy met grassroots leaders from around the world two years ago to learn and work together, as a Community of Practice, through the Goldin Global Fellows program, which he cherishes today.

“My experience as a Goldin Fellow has been excellent as I learned valuable lessons, methods, tools, and approaches in my community development and engagement work.” he says.

While discussing influential resources, Andy mentions the GATHER platform:

“The GATHER platform tremendously contributed to my learning as a professional and community activist. The platform was easy to navigate and use and facilitated intuitive and practical learning by providing useful concepts and examples for community leaders like me.” — Andy Alegre

In addition to the content on the platform, what enriched Andy’s learning was his fellow cohort members’ meaningful and valuable reflections and contributions.

“I also appreciate that the program is so inclusive – multi-generation, multi-faith – with fellows from all over the world with diverse backgrounds and identities” he says in a conclusive note. 

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