Nairobi Youth Conference

Kenya | 23-25 August 2013

Among the 500 youth arriving in Nairobi, Kenya, for the conference on 22-24 August could be seen the passage of a generation, as friends who had participated together in spiritual education classes for children joyfully greeted each other once again. Although they had been dispersed by the currents of life, their feet had remained firm in the path of service to humanity, something they attributed to mutual support and encouragement. At the heart of their commitment were friendships inspired by meaningful service to their communities.

As they studied the conference materials, participants considered how the qualities of loving fellowship and encouragement not only reinforce their common strivings, but have the potential to permeate relationships throughout their society: “I understood that efforts to build a prosperous civilization will take many centuries of hard work,” one participant shared. “In order for us to achieve this goal, we must foster real friendships that are based on mutual support. I know that as long as unity exists between us, we will achieve it.”

“In order for us to achieve this goal, we must foster real friendships that are based on mutual support I know that as long as unity exists between us, we will achieve it.”

A participant at the conference

The youth thought about how existing structures and processes in their communities could be strengthened in the context of the advancement of civilization. Participants explored the pivotal role of consultation in collective decision-making. One youth shared: “In our village, the chief holds a regular baraza—a gathering where the members of a community meet to discuss its affairs. Previously, only elders would attend, until one day a group of us decided to join them. When we went we found that the main topic of discussion was the misdemeanours of youth. Through our participation, however, we helped change that perception as we offered ideas to improve the collective life of the village.” Workshops also consulted about the role of marriage in contributing to the life of a community and the importance of choosing a marriage partner who shares a common interest in raising a family that is dedicated to the advancement of society.

Study of the materials, in a serious and uplifting environment, raised the level of consciousness of their common purpose. “I did not know what to expect coming to the conference; I was invited by a neighbour,” reflected a participant. “I assumed that this was one of those conferences where we are told about social problems. However this one is different—we are learning about principles that are helpful in our lives and how to positively influence the younger ones in our community when we return.”

MORE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The contagious spirit of the event attracted the attention of people living near the conference venue who became interested in getting involved in community-building activities
  • Artistic presentations articulated the concepts being studied and included a poem in Swahili, singing, and drama
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  • Youth arrive at the conference venue for registration

  • Volunteers assist participants to register for the conference

  • Young people between the ages of 15 to 30 came together to consult on how to better serve their communities

  • A member of the National Spiritual Assembly warmly welcomed the participants

  • A joyful spirit imbued the atmosphere

  • Discussions began in large groups and then broke into smaller ones in order to explore ideas in the conference materials in light of their local realities

  • Participants studied, consulted, and planned together

  • Small workshop groups meet outside to consult on how they can assist those younger than themselves to contribute to the well-being of their communities

  • Youth explore the concepts of the materials in creative ways

  • Friends were encouraged to share the insights from their workshops in the plenary gatherings

  • Participants watch segments from the film Frontiers of Learning

  • Some of the 500 young participants of the Nairobi youth conference

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