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.”

“I have learnt that it is important for youth that are serving to support each other, as this way we will be able to advance together”

A participant at the conference

An outstanding unity of thought was demonstrated throughout all of the conference proceedings. Participants offered songs, skits, and dances during the group sessions, uplifting the hearts of their fellow peers and strengthening their understanding of the topics that had been explored in the materials. The plenary sessions were both thoughtful and celebratory and included a variety of creative presentations ranging from a spoken-word piece about the conference themes to a blues composition by a young girl from Lithuania, accompanied by a vibrant dance by three other participants.

The gathering transformed the hearts of many of the participants. One youth described how the doubts he had prior to attending changed into faith, as he saw how over the course of the three days, the participants became inspired to act. “Before I came, I wasn’t sure what the import of this conference would be,” he said, “but now I can see how many of us have been moved to serve our communities. We will go forward without hesitation, and put our ideas into action!”

MORE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • A group from Ukraine presented a song that had been composed specifically for the conference and invited youth from other countries to join them on the stage
  • During one of the evening programmes, a group of younger youth presented small handmade souvenirs to each of the participants at the conference
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  • Participants came from Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine

  • Some groups gathered outside to study the conference materials under the cool shade of tents

  • A joyful spirit imbued the atmosphere

  • Plenary sessions included joyful and uplifting artistic presentations

  • Each group found creative ways to present what they had studied in the workshops

  • Youth shared reflections from their group discussions

  • A group photo of the youth conference participants

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