“Let us prepare the younger generation to contribute to a better society in the future,” said a person reflecting a shared sense of purpose among participants at the San Jose City youth conference in the Philippines, held from 18 to 20 October. Despite a devastating typhoon that passed through central and northern Luzon only days before the start of the gathering, over 500 young people came together at Central Luzon State University to consult on the ways in which they could contribute to meaningful change in their communities.
Among the themes explored by the youth was the importance of assisting the younger generation to develop the skills, spiritual qualities, and attitudes necessary to live a life of service. They shared examples from their own lives in which older youth assisted them to be of service and recognized the impact this had on their future choices. “From my own experience I know how important the role of older youth is in supporting younger ones to develop capacity to serve their community. Their example inspired me and I hope to be the same kind of inspirational example for those younger than me.”
“Community development is more difficult if there is only one or very few working together. It shows how important it is to visit homes of families and friends to find out how they are and to share ideas with one another.”
A participant at the conference
Youth could be seen continuing discussions over breaks, sharing music, and preparing for the evening plenary sessions that featured artistic presentations created by the participants. These included dances, skits, drama, and poetry that further articulated the concepts they were exploring together. Some 70 youth who had been engaged in community-building activities for a month and had only recently been invited to the conference shared a traditional dance. Another group of young people presented a dance titled “Flowers of One Garden”.
To walk a path of service in one's community requires faith and perseverance. Doing so with others holds great potential for meaningful collective action. The participants readily recognized that a group of young people collaborating together in service to the community would be characterized by loving fellowship, encouragement, and a willingness to learn. Sharing the perspective of his peers, one youth said, “We need to serve together. When we do, our service is stronger; we are less likely to falter and stop. And at the same time our faith and unity are reinforced, which in turn gives us more strength to serve.” Highlighting the importance of working in groups, not only for the progress of the community but also the individual, another participant shared, “Community development is more difficult if there is only one or very few working together. It shows how important it is to visit homes of families and friends to find out how they are and to share ideas with one another.”
Heartened by the friendships and clarity of vision the youth were eager to return to their communities and begin implementing their plans born of the insights gained from their study and consultations at the conference. The friendships, joy, and purposefulness of their time together fostered in their hearts a desire for deeper understanding and a vision for how to contribute meaningfully to the betterment of their neighbourhoods and villages.
Groups of friends travelled to the conference together
Some 500 young people came together for the San Jose City youth conference
In workshops the youth reflected on themes such as developing the capacity for true friendship
Workshops provided everyone with the opportunity to share their thoughts
Participants used a variety of activities to deepen their understanding of the concepts in the materials
The conference was filled with both purposeful study and joyful fellowship
Music and other arts were seamlessly integrated into the conference
Group photo of the conference participants