In the rising foothills of the Andes, the rushing waters of the Rímac River wind their way down steep mountain slopes before emptying themselves into the Pacific Ocean. The Rímac, which means “talking” in the Quechuan language, is nicknamed El Río Hablador, “The River That Speaks”, for the sound that, according to Incan lore, would be made when swelling winter rains dislodged glacial boulders.
The waterway’s lush banks were a fitting setting, then, for a conversation about releasing the powers of young people—one distinguished by the depth of understanding achieved and the bonds of friendship established, as youth shared their insights on how to express high ideals in a pattern of unified action that would help their communities advance.
“I am eager to put in practice everything I’ve learned at this conference.”
A participant at the conference
Encouraging words were shared by members of the institutions that awakened the energies of the many friends eager to contribute to the well-being of all. “This is part of a process that is already in motion. Before you came, you were already working in your neighbourhoods, clusters, and regions. We are here to consult on how to continue that process,” Continental Counsellor Carmen Elisa de Sadeghian, a representative of the Universal House of Justice at the conference, said to the 300 youth assembled.
So eager were the young people at the conference that they rose as early as 6:00 a.m. each morning to open their days with uplifting prayers and songs, and studied and consulted together late into the evenings. “Let this prayer fill the hearts of everyone that sings it,” one young woman said after sharing a melody she had composed. The sessions were so captivating that the youth felt no need to take breaks except to have meals, and every moment of free time was devoted to discussing the concepts they were studying, which were shared until nearly midnight on the last evening of the conference.
In the workshop groups and through artistic expressions, the participants explored the social forces that shape the lives of youth and the qualities required by those who strive to support the intellectual and spiritual development of those younger than themselves.
One participant described having invited two friends to watch the film Frontiers of Learning. They were moved to learn that other people around the world are vitally concerned about the spiritual education of children. Attracted by the concept of community building, these two youth joined a group of peers who were studying the teachings of Bahá‘u’lláh to apply them to the life of the community.
On the second day, participants organized themselves into groups according to their neighbourhoods and consulted about the next steps they could take upon returning home. They made detailed plans, painted colourful maps of their areas, and thought about how they could invite the younger generation to begin directing their energies towards service to their communities.
Preparing to return home, the comments of one young man who was the only representative of his community demonstrated the enthusiasm and spirit of collaboration that grew among the participants: “This conference has been full of substance, intense, and very beneficial for all. We worked for more than 12 hours every day. I am anxious to go back to my community, since the process has not started there yet. I am eager to put in practice everything I’ve learned. I feel assured that I will receive the necessary support and encouragement.”
300 youth from Peru gathered in Lima from 2 to 4 August 2013
Devotional periods at the beginning of each session set the atmosphere of reflection for the consultations
The conference was an opportunity for the participants to reflect together about the contribution they can make to the advancement of those younger than themselves
Discussions were carried out in both large and small workshop groups
The participants at the conference were both focused and filled with joyful enthusiasm
Youth were encouraged to share insights from their workshops in the plenary gatherings
Participants made maps of their neighbourhoods as they consulted about their plans of action
Singing and other arts infused both plenary and group sessions
The participants in one workshop enjoyed the spacious surroundings of the conference venue
The youth consulted intensely regarding ways they could help advance their communities
The participants made simple yet strategic plans of action
Youth from Chucuito Puno presented a traditional Aymara dance
The conference was characterized by joyful and creative artistic presentations reflecting the themes and concepts explored through consultation