Participant reflections from July Vancouver Island Youth Conference

Posted: 2014/07/23
Participants in the Vancouver Island conference.

Participants in the Vancouver Island conference.

Here are some reflections from participants in the Vancouver Island youth conference which took place from 11 to 13 July. More than 70 youth attended the conference, which was held at the Songhees Wellness Centre, which is associated with the Songhees First Nation. The National Spiritual Assembly called for ten youth conferences to take place this summer to welcome more youth into a process where people of diverse ages and backgrounds learn to apply the Bahá’í teachings to foster constructive change in their communities. These reflections speak to the themes studied at the conference, the atmosphere created and the insights gained from the participants into the relationships that should characterize the three main protagonists in the process of change: the individual, the community and the institutions.

“During the three days of the conference, youth from across Vancouver Island gathered together to learn from one another, advance our understanding of service to humanity, and study the unique role we play in contributing to the advancement of civilization. During this experience, I was fortunate to witness and experience the forming of friendships among youth who participated, friendships that will continue to be truly lasting, no matter the distance separating us.”

Participants in the Vancouver Island, B.C. conference study together.

Participants in the Vancouver Island, B.C. conference study together.

“A concept that was looked at from the materials we studied was the necessity of unity, meaning individuals working together as well as with institutions in order for a community to advance materially and spiritually. This concept was quite theoretical for me prior to the conference, but during the three days, I reflected and concluded that the atmosphere of unity that was clearly present at the conference was a concrete example. Each individual brought something unique, but at the same time, the unified vision shared by all participants of wanting to contribute to the betterment of the world was remarkable. With the help of institutions that were present, we were able to come up with plans on how to take what we learned and developed over the three days to our own communities to advance change.”

“A large component of the conference was the implementation of the arts, such as music, into other various aspects of the conference. The amount of singing that was shared throughout the three days was immense and served greatly in my overall experience, because it brought so much joy and laughter not just for me, but for everyone who took part. Many of us concluded that we would not be able to stop singing these songs after the conference, yes, because of the joy and unity they brought, but also because we will not be able to get them out of our heads!”

“Constant encouragement for all youth is necessary. Letting everyone know that their voice is important. In the large group it was really neat to see people from my small group contributing more and stepping out of their shells.”

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A beautiful sunset greeted the facilitators and organizers of the conference when they left the venue after spending the day reflecting on the conference.

“Youth who had attended the conference last year and were studying the conference materials for the second time really benefited because every time you go through it you see something a different way and have the chance to hear someone else’s take on it.”

“Every day, when all the participants gathered together, we were asked a question; the question was, “Are you happy?” . . . Every day, our excitement surrounding this question increased. Every day I gained so much more knowledge and momentum to want to contribute what I had been learning not just for myself, but to apply it back to my own community. So, by the last day of the conference, instead of being sad that it was over, there was so much excitement built up within me, and in so many others. It was shared that this was not the end, but actually the beginning. The beginning of true and lasting friendships between all of us who participated, as well as the beginning, or a part of this path of service we are all walking. A path that [is for] anyone who shares this desire to be a part of something bigger than any one of us, something that is truly the cause of the development of a new world.”

For more pictures and accounts  from the youth conferences that have taken place so far in Canada, click here.