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Europe Baha'i meetups and gatherings in Europe


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Old 10-03-2013, 06:40 AM   #1
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Youth Conferences in Europe



Paris Youth Conference
France | 26-28 July 2013

At dawn on the first morning of the youth conference in Paris, the area experienced one of the most violent thunderstorms of the year. However, for the group of youth who had travelled from a community in the south west of France and were camping in tents close to the conference location, the storm, though severe, did not prevent them from arriving at the venue on time and full of joy, a spirit shared by the other 650 conference participants. They came from France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium, with a vision of change for their communities, born of a sense of hope in humanity's capacity to work together for the betterment of society.

Mr. Nakhjavani, a former member of the Universal House of Justice, brought greetings to the youth. His presence at the conference was a source of joy and inspiration for all the participants.

As the youth reflected on the capacities they could develop through service to their communities and how these skills and qualities could assist them in the different dimensions of their lives, such as work, school and family, one young girl shared her experience serving as a teacher of moral education classes for some of the children in her neighbourhood: “This service [as a children's class teacher] has helped me to learn and develop many qualities such as patience, or the capacity to talk with the parents of the children. This has strengthened my ability to speak with older adults in general, which is something I will use throughout my entire life.”

Paris, France Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
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Old 10-03-2013, 06:41 AM   #2
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Madrid Youth Conference
Spain | 26-28 July 2013

Preparations were almost complete a day before the start of the youth conference in Madrid, as a team of volunteers spent the morning arranging the final provisions in anticipation of the arrival of 370 youth. As groups of friends from the Canary Islands, Gibraltar, Portugal, and Spain neared the venue under the hot afternoon sun, the surrounding university facilities were transformed into a milieu of energy and excitement. One of the participants commented: “I was so excited to come to this conference, as I’ve never been to such an event before. When I arrived, I felt as though I was at home. We’re from different places, but we feel united.” The participants had arrived, with high spirits and were ready to act!

The youth, who came from diverse backgrounds and were of varying ages, opened the conference with prayers and Writings from the Bahá’í Faith, read and sung in a number of languages. During group sessions, youth settled on the grass and under the cool shade of pine trees. The atmosphere that characterized the conference was at once festive and focused, with the participants demonstrating an eagerness to grasp the concepts that had been introduced in the conference materials. Despite the imposing heat, discussions on themes such as the unique period of youth and early adolescence remained centered, and the youth kept an outstanding level of motivation and commitment throughout the conference.

Madrid, Spain Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 06:42 AM   #3
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Helsinki Youth Conference
Finland | 2-4 August 2013

Suffused with sunlight, the high ceilings of the Hotel Haaga in Helsinki provided ample room for the elevated thoughts of youth gathered for the conference in Finland from 2 to 4 August.

Some 350 youth participating in the conference came from Denmark, Greenland, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, enthused by the knowledge that ten other conferences were taking place simultaneously around the world. Everyone warmly welcomed the efforts of a group of ten youth who had traveled 4,000 kilometres from Greenland to participate.

The young people gathered at the conference engaged in conversations about the powers and opportunities available to them, the nature of true friendship, and building community—in particular in one’s neighbourhood, sharing the vision of Bahá‘u’lláh with others, and planning their next steps after the weekend.

Helsinki, Finland Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 06:44 AM   #4
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Frankfurt Youth Conference
Germany | 2-4 August 2013

Nearly fifty years since its public opening, beneath the 540 diamond-shaped windows of the dome of the Bahá’í House of Worship in Langenhain, Germany, hundreds of youth, in successive groups, prepared themselves with prayer for the coming days. Every thirty minutes, busloads of conference participants arrived and streamed past one another, some entering and others leaving the Temple to walk the grounds and meet new and old friends. From here the 900 participants, coming from Austria, Belgium, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, and Germany, travelled to Frankfurt for the conference.

Though the venue was a large football stadium and the participants filled up only one small section, many commented that there was a sense of what was now possible: the space served as a reminder that hundreds and thousands more can be invited into a conversation in which individuals collaborate together in a spirit of mutual support to contribute to the betterment of their communities. They could, from that vantage point, easily imagine the stadium being full.

Frankfurt, Germany Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 06:44 AM   #5
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Verona Youth Conference
Italy | 2-4 August 2013

In the silence that filled the hall as the final words of the 1 July 2013 message from the Universal House of Justice were read, the vision of a movement of youth shouldering responsibility for the betterment of the world, and the precious opportunity it represents, captivated the imagination and gave rise to a deep sense of commitment from the youth who sat listening in quiet contemplation.

In the heart of the city of Verona, known for its beauty and history, more than 300 young people from Italy and Sicily, some traveling by bus for up to 18 hours, spent three days together in a spirit of joyous fellowship. They gathered to talk about how they could engage hundreds and then thousands of their fellow youth, who share the same hope in their hearts that the world can change, into a conversation about how to apply Baha’u’llah’s Teachings to the life of a community.

When examining the implications of living a life in which all dimensions, both spiritual and material, strengthen each other, one participant said: "We are talking about something more than an action; being coherent is not another thing you 'have to do'. It is a realization that things in our life are connected, that we need and are needed by others, that our inner talents have a role in the collective life of society."

Verona, Italy Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 06:46 AM   #6
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Tirana Youth Conference
Albania | 10-12 August 2013

“Our role is to build a new world,” said a participant from Kosovo at the start of the first session of the conference. “Our goal cannot be to criticize the bad state in which we find things, but rather to find solutions,” added another friend. With such high aspirations, some 160 youth from eleven countries in the Balkan peninsula––Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia––gathered over three consecutive days in the Harry Fultz School in Tirana, Albania, to discuss how they could contribute to building communities in which all work together to achieve material and spiritual progress.

Not only was this conference the largest event which many of the youth had ever attended, it was also the first time many were offered an opportunity to discuss, on a larger scale, how they could translate their hopes for a better society into tangible actions. In a region faced with national prejudices and racial animosity, rooted in historical conflicts, many participants expressed the hope that the communities that they are seeking to serve will soon reflect the spirit of the conference. Against this backdrop, the friendships formed during the conference acquired special significance. An Albanian participant expressed that it was the first time he had met someone from Serbia and realized they could be friends, while another participant said, “We are making history; we are turning a page.” A Roma youth from Macedonia stated: “At home, every day of my life I experience prejudice, but this is the first gathering where I have felt no prejudice at all.”

Tirana, Albania Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 06:47 AM   #7
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Chișinău (Dubăsari) Youth Conference
Moldova | 16-18 August 2013

It begins high up in the snowcapped Carpathian Mountains; winding its way through the Ukraine, flowing uninterrupted towards the Black Sea. Its grey waters rush past ancient towns and villages on either side of its wide banks in a region of the world with a history as tumultuous and storied as any. At this time of the year, the banks of the Dniester are dotted with colourful wildflowers. Like many rivers of the world, it has provided both a means of transport and livelihood to a nation; silent witness to the material and spiritual struggles and advances of generations. And it was on its banks, near the town of Dubăsari, that close to 200 youth from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Moldova gathered to consult on the process of community building inspired by the message of Bahá’u’lláh.

One group of youth from the Czech Republic was required to return to Romania to have their passports stamped after arriving at the Moldovan border. Undeterred, they completed the request, eventually returning to the conference venue in the middle of the night. Two groups from Chișinău included 28 friends of Bahá'ís, who, having only recently heard of the vision of Bahá’u’lláh to be explored at the conference, were eager to attend. With clarity of purpose, one of them shared, “We are coming to the conference with the firm intention to act after it finishes. This conference is the first step on the path of service for many.”

Chisinau, Moldova Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 06:50 AM   #8
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Istanbul Youth Conference
Turkey | 23-25 August 2013

In 1863, Bahá'u'lláh, then an exile in Baghdad, set out on His second banishment toward Constantinople—present day Istanbul—along with His family and some of His devoted followers. In August of that year, after four months of travel, Bahá'u'lláh arrived in Istanbul, Turkey, a country that would for five years witness some of the most painful adversities endured by Him for the sake of humanity. Exactly 150 years later, more than 260 youth from Cyprus and Turkey gathered in that city to explore how they could work together towards the realization of His vision for a just and united world.

The call for the 114 youth conferences by the Universal House of Justice prompted many young people to invite their friends to join them in working toward the spiritual and material development of their communities. “We became very excited when we received the message of the House of Justice,” expressed one youth, “and studied it with our friends before coming to the conference.” Many of these groups travelled together in long bus rides that provided them with an opportunity to reflect on their experiences over the last several months and further strengthen their bonds of friendship.

Istanbul, Turkey Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 06:51 AM   #9
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Dnipropetrovsk Youth Conference
Ukraine | 23-25 August 2013

The youth conference in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, welcomed about 160 youth from Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine, eager to participate in conversations about the special characteristic of their age group and the ways in which they can assist one another to work towards constructive change in their communities. Many were already involved in community-building endeavours while others had just learned about the activities of the Bahá’ís and their friends to study Teachings of the Bahá’í Faith and to serve society. “A few months ago I was invited to this gathering,” said one participant, “and even though I was really excited to attend, my expectations have been surpassed. Having been immersed in such a creative and focused atmosphere I realize that I can be a part of many great, positive, and maybe even historical changes in my community.”

The quality of the discussions in the small group sessions was particularly noteworthy as the participants eloquently offered their insights. They explained that they had felt empowered during their workshop discussions because the environment fostered was both joyful and encouraging. “There was an open atmosphere in our group,” said one participant, “and everyone had a chance to share his or her thoughts and ideas … the spirit of mutual support was really felt in the group.” “I have learned that it is important for youth to support each other, as this way we will be able to advance together,” said another. “We have to be flexible when we face challenges and be prepared to adapt to different circumstances. It is also through challenges that we have an opportunity to build stronger friendships.”

Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 06:52 AM   #10
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London (Warwick) Youth Conference
United Kingdom | 30 August - 1 September 2013

Between 30 August and 1 September, the green campus grounds of the University of Warwick, some 160 kilometres away from the bustling crowds of London, hosted over 1,000 youth from Gibraltar, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, and the four countries of the United Kingdom. On the evening preceding the first day of the conference, hundreds of young people assembled in the courtyard of the university campus, greeting each other and cheering as they welcomed the arrivals of their fellow participants. One group had spent their whole journey in song, clapping, drumming, and sharing quotes and verses from the Bahá'í Writings. As they stepped off the bus, the singing continued and their joy was spread to all those gathered.

The collective spirit of the conference was heightened by the eagerness of the youth to learn together how they can work side by side to bring about constructive change in their communities and build their capacities for meaningful service. "I'm here to learn with 1,000 others about how we can contribute to the transformation of our society," one participant said. "I feel so welcomed at this gathering. It is wonderful to see groups of people with a united view of the world and vision of the future," observed another youth.

London (Warwick), United Kingdom Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Old 10-03-2013, 01:47 PM   #11
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Moscow Youth Conference
Russia | 27-29 September 2013

“For me it was a big step to come to this conference. Even a few months ago I didn’t know there was such a group of people who wanted to better the world,” said a youth participating in the conference in Moscow, Russia, from 27 to 29 September. “I now see that it’s not enough to just try to be a good person yourself—it is much better to walk the path of service in the company of other people.” This comment demonstrated a shared understanding developed among more than 250 youth who gathered to consult about how to release the potential of their generation for service to humanity.

Discussions delving deeply into the themes and concepts provided in the conference materials helped the youth appreciate the desire and capacity of their generation to make a contribution to the fortunes of humanity. They explored how youth can harmonize the various dimensions of their lives—such as education, work, and family—by dedicating themselves to selfless service to their communities, particularly for the intellectual and moral development of those younger than themselves.

Moscow, Russia Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
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