Asia Youth Conferences in Asia

Aug 2012
156
Recife, Brasil
#11


Kolkata Youth Conference
India | 13-15 September 2013

Kolkata—the “City of Joy”’—sits on the east bank of the Hooghly River and is the capital of the state of West Bengal, India. It was there, from 13 to 15 September, that just over 900 young people, inspired by Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of a new world, gathered to consult on the responsibility before youth to channel their energies towards the advancement of their neighbourhoods and villages.

In a spirit of anticipation and excitement, the workshops began as participants explored themes including the special characteristics of the period of youth and the importance of both spiritual and material education Reflecting on education as part of the process of empowerment for individuals and communities, one participant commented, “I used to think that formal education is the only priority for youth. But now my idea has changed. Now I understand that we need spiritual education as well as material education.”

Kolkata, India Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Aug 2012
156
Recife, Brasil
#12


Patna Youth Conference
India | 13-15 September 2013

Just a short distance from the ruins of Pataliputra, the capital of ancient India, and near to where Buddha is said to have received enlightenment, is the city now known as Patna. Here more than 1,150 youth from the states of Bihar and Jharkhand converged for the youth conference from 13 to 15 September with all the hope in their hearts that through strenuous, concerted effort to apply Bahá’u’lláh’s Teachings, the world can be transformed.

Those gathered were among thousands of people in the villages of this region who have been participating in activities that weave a pattern of community life in which worship and service unite. This pattern is seen in the coherence that exists between gatherings for prayer, which strengthen the devotional character of the community, and an educational process that builds capacity for service to humanity in people of all ages and backgrounds. The vitality of these two interconnected processes advancing in this region will soon be further enhanced by the erection of one of the first local Houses of Worship in the world, described by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as a place of meeting where “the proclamation of the oneness of mankind shall go forth from its open courts of holiness.”

Patna, India Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Aug 2012
156
Recife, Brasil
#13


Kuching Youth Conference
Sarawak, Malaysia | 14-16 September 2013

Along the banks of the Sarawak River, on the western part of the island of Borneo, lies the city of Kuching, capital of the state of Sarawak. It was there, from 14 to 16 September, that 650 youth, inspired by Bahá’u’lláh’s vision for a world founded on justice and unity, gathered to consult on the ways in which they can contribute to the development of their communities.

Participants wearing beautiful traditional attire formally ushered Continental Counsellors Lori McLaughlin Noguchi and Ircham Hadi Sujadmiko—representatives of the Universal House of Justice—into the main hall of the conference venue. After a moving devotional programme, and a welcome to all the conference participants by region, the song Belia Harapan Dunia (Youth, Hope of the World), which was composed especially for the gathering, was shared:

“Youth are the hope of the world
Building our communities
Fulfilling God’s wish…
Let’s all come together
To nurture the young”​

Among the themes explored by conference participants was the concept of living a coherent life that is seeing family, service, and education as elements of a whole rather than separate parts. One girl from Kota Samarahan reflected on the centrality of service in her life and how it contributes to coherence. She recognized that she had previously understood it was impossible to be engaged in service activities while simultaneously pursuing her studies. However, since beginning to collaborate with younger youth in her neighbourhood in service to the community, she realized that, far from detracting from her studies, what she was learning through her efforts to serve others was also applicable to her university courses and had helped to strengthen all areas of her life.

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Aug 2012
156
Recife, Brasil
#14


Dhaka Youth Conference
Bangladesh | 20-23 September 2013

Bangladesh is said to be the most densely populated place on the planet and is home to a rich cultural and literary heritage. It was here, from 21 to 23 September, that over 500 young people gathered from across the country, in the capital Dhaka—one of the fastest growing cities in the world. There, on the grounds of the Gonoshasthaya Kendra Centre, the participants spent three days consulting on the contributions youth can make to the community-building process in their neighbourhoods and villages.

The first busload of participants arrived at 3 p.m. on the day before the conference began, after 18 hours of travel, and they continued to arrive in waves until the early morning hours. The joy and excitement of the youth diminished any sense of difficulty in their journey, and the spirit of the opening day was marked with a profound sense of gratitude for having been given the opportunity to participate in such a historic gathering.

The young people had, in many cases, made great efforts to attend the conference. One girl who had never travelled outside of her village, convinced her father to take time off work and escort her to the conference—the only way it would be possible for her to attend. So inspired by the transformation he saw in his daughter and the conference participants, her father was happy he had agreed to accompany her.

Dhaka, Bangladesh Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Aug 2012
156
Recife, Brasil
#15


Chennai Youth Conference
India | 27-29 September 2013

For some, their experience with the Bahá’i-inspired community-building endeavour spans years, for others their participation is perhaps of a few months, and for others still, their introduction to the conversation—at the heart of which is the effort to apply the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh to the advancement of society—has been just a few days. Yet regardless of how long they have been involved, they are wholeheartedly committing themselves to meaningful acts of service reflective of their affinity with the vision of contributing to the advancement of neighbourhoods and villages around the world. The 800 participants of the Chennai youth conference, held from 27 to 29 September, represented this range of experience.

Chennai is the capital city of Tamil Nadu (in English, “the land of Tamils”), one of the 28 states of India, a diverse and culturally rich nation. Tamil is considered one of the classical languages of India and the official language of the state. The deep cultural influence is reflected in the literature, art, and music of a region that retains many aspects of its traditional heritage and places great emphasis on education. The young people of Tamil Nadu have proved their capacity to sustain long-term commitment to the process of spiritual education offered in their neighbourhoods and villages.

Chennai, India Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Aug 2012
156
Recife, Brasil
#16


New Delhi Youth Conference
India | 4-6 October 2013

On the grounds of the “Lotus of Bahapur”, the continental House of Worship in India, 400 young people from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, Kashmir, Punjab, and Rajasthan joined 1,500 of their peers in New Delhi—making a total of 1,900 youth— who participated in a youth conference from 4 to 6 October to consider how their generation could lend further impetus to a process of community building that has been steadily gaining momentum over the past ten years.

In New Delhi, the community has been fully immersed in a process of collective transformation at the heart of which are conversations with friends and neighbours revolving around the study of the Word of God, cultivating a thirst for understanding, and a desire to serve humanity. In the neighbourhoods surrounding the Temple, individuals, communities, and institutions are collaborating by the hundreds to translate the vision of Bahá‘u’lláh into a reality for the city’s approximately 22 million inhabitants. At the forefront of this systematic effort is an expanding number of youth who are devoting themselves to nurturing the spiritual and intellectual development of children and young adolescents. This was clearly evident in the profound discussions, enhanced by practical experience and reflection, that took place during the conference. One participant who had been teaching a class to develop spiritual qualities in children for the past year said, “To bring about transformation in society, it is important that we educate the younger generation, both materially and spiritually.” This youth went on to describe how, since teaching spiritual principles in her classes, she had seen the children develop much more caring behaviour with one another— speaking to each other with love and kindness and being more inclusive when playing, so none were made to feel left out.

New Delhi, India Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Aug 2012
156
Recife, Brasil
#17


Manila Youth Conference
Philippines | 4-6 October 2013

“It is not important whether we are just starting to consciously work for the betterment of our communities, or whether we have been engaged in this process for a long time,” said one participant at the Manila youth conference, the first of three such gatherings to be held across the Philippines. “What is important,” she added, “is that we are united in one aim: to grow spiritually and to assist in the transformation of society.” Her comments echo the desire shared by her fellow conference-goers—young people from the Southern Luzon and Palawan regions of the Philippines—to join in efforts to contribute to the betterment of the world. From 4 to 6 October, some 740 youth gathered at a forest reserve on the outskirts of Manila, at the base of Mount Makiling, to find ways to broaden this conversation to include an increasing number of people.

Three full days of thought-provoking consultations, inspiring plenaries, and vibrant arts presentations generated many insights among participants, culminating in a closing session in which youth shared what they had learned and what they planned to implement upon returning to their neighbourhoods and villages. “I used to keep to myself, just because I am a tribal man, and some of us feel that we are insignificant or uneducated,” said one participant, who together with his friends walked for eight hours as part of their journey to the conference. “But since coming to this gathering, and having studied texts that taught me about the importance of service to others, I feel I have overcome this shyness and I can now associate with anyone to join in working towards creating a better world.”

Manila, Philippines Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Aug 2012
156
Recife, Brasil
#18


Daidanaw Youth Conference
Myanmar | 4-6 October 2013

Daidanaw, a village in the district of Kungyangon, Myanmar, stretches a few kilometres on either side of a main road that runs through numerous other similar villages. Around the turn of the twentieth century, the entire village, attracted to Bahá’u’lláh’s vision for a world founded on justice and unity, embraced His Teachings and began applying them in their lives. ‘Abdu’l- Bahá, living in Haifa at the time, was so happy to hear the news of the people of Daidanaw recognizing the universal truth in Bahá’u’lláh’s Writings that He described it as “His village”. Some 100 years later, over 500 youth gathered in “His village” from 4 to 6 October, inspired by the same Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and sharing a desire to further advance their efforts in contributing to the betterment of the world.

“This is my first time to participate in a gathering like this and I have learned many things. One thought I have is that youth do things together, that is our way, and we can learn to channel our energy in service. I want to share my insights with other youth so that we can serve our community together,” commented a participant.

Daidanaw, Myanmar Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Aug 2012
156
Recife, Brasil
#19


Panchgani Youth Conference
India | 4-6 October 2013

“May the light they light today, illumine our hearts throughout our lives,” said a participant, following a traditional lamp-lighting ceremony to open the youth conference in Panchgani, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, from 4 to 6 October. There, in the New Era High School, overlooking the Krishna River and with the beautiful Western Ghats mountain range in the background, 1,200 youth from the states of Maharashtra, Goa, and Gujarat gathered to consult on the ways they could assist in the social and spiritual development of their villages and neighbourhoods.

Sharing a common desire to bring about constructive change and a capacity for meaningful service, the participants gathered in large and small workshop groups according to locality and spread across the spacious school grounds to study the conference materials. They consulted on the nature of the conversation around community building, at the heart of which is the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, and the youth thought of ways to share His vision for a united world with others. In this connection, they recognized that the Word of God is a vital aspect of community building. One participant commented, “To bring about change our words might not have so great an influence, as would the Word of God on the hearts and minds of others.”

Panchgani, India Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 
Aug 2012
156
Recife, Brasil
#20


Guwahati Youth Conference
India | 11-13 October 2013

The youth conference in Guwahati, India, held from 11 to 13 October, included young people from the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura. It began with a warm welcome by youth dressed in traditional attire who lined the pathway to the venue and greeted guests and participants as they arrived. Close to 1,200 young people made their way to the main hall where, in a rarefied atmosphere, prayers were said for the well-being of their communities.

Regardless of the various social circumstances of the participants, it became clear through the conference discussions that everyone shared a desire to contribute to the betterment of society. Stories of service were recounted by many of the participants that demonstrated qualities of perseverance, dedication, and selflessness. One instance was of a young lady who shared how she had initially found it challenging to attract her peers to join with her in service efforts. However, she persevered and over time their interest grew to the point that she now collaborates with two groups of youth. They have not only become her very good friends but are also fully committed and engaged in activities that contribute to the community-building process in their neighbourhoods.

Guwahati, India Youth Conference - Bahá'í World News Service
 

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