Seberang Perai (Sungai Siput) Youth Conference

Malaysia | 30 August - 1 September 2013

Addressing the youth of the world as “light bringers” with the aim to “raise up hope and the younger generation”, the song Gemuruh Belia with lyrics composed by a group of young people from northern Malaysia enthused the 350 participants gathered in Sungai Seput from 30 August to 1 September. Friends speaking English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil came together in this youth conference—to strengthen their common vision of how they could work with members of their communities towards progress.

Sessions began by considering the responsibility and potential of youth to contribute to the prosperity of their communities by aiding the social and spiritual development of those younger than themselves. “Young people are inherently good,” one young woman said. “The period of early adolescence is the time when we begin to investigate our reality and see the world with new eyes,” another participant said. “It is important that younger youth have positive influences in their life as they are making new choices.”

“The conference showed me that all people are meant to bring the world to its noble destiny, which is to be united.”

A participant at the conference

As they studied, participants reflected on how intellectual and spiritual education must go hand in hand to allow youth to release their powers and contribute to humanity’s advancement. “Spiritual and intellectual growth enhance an individual’s ability to participate in civilization building by serving the community,” said one young man.

Conversations about fragmentation also helped those gathered to understand better how devoting themselves to the well-being of others could harmonize life’s different aspects, including education, work, and family. “I think the essence of what we learned is that we must make service to humanity the centre of our lives, so that all our decisions and activities revolve around it,” one youth said.

A young man described how he was struck by the collaborative nature of the discussions among the youth: “My friend told me about this conference. I think what makes this attitude to building community so different is that it encourages consultation. And we commit and come to an agreement. The discussions here allow everyone to contribute, especially when it comes to thinking about how we can be of service to our neighbours.”

In between sessions, the melodies of guitar and rhythms of tabla hand drums filled the air with energy. A torrential downpour at the end of the conference could not dampen the spirit generated over the youths’ three days together. Group by group, they began leaving the conference with renewed zeal to serve humanity. “The conference showed me that all people are meant to bring the world to its noble destiny, which is to be united,” one participant said. “I really want more people to be part of this conversation.”

MORE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Many participants shared stories of how they had been supported to develop their capacity for service to the community as young people, and in turn, were now working with others towards this aim
  • In the opening session, the dikir barat was performed, a culturally significant national dance that stirred the hearts of the participants
  • In an acknowledgement that the vast majority of its occupants were conference participants, the hotel changed the music being played over the speaker system for the weekend to songs with a message of unity
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  • Buses transported eager participants to the hotel where the conference was hosted

  • The conference opened with a plenary session in the main hall

  • Small groups consulted on themes such as the characteristics of youth

  • Study of the conference materials stimulated the youths’ thinking

  • Groups consulted about continuing efforts to better their communities

  • A young woman reading a section of the materials to her fellow participants

  • Workshop groups engaged in thoughtful reflection about the materials

  • Participants collaborated in activities designed to explore conference themes

  • Youth found creative ways to articulate their growing understanding

  • Musical presentations heightened the youth’s enthusiasm

  • Participants sharing reflections with their workshop group

  • Arts such as dance expressed the bonds of friendship strengthened among the young

    people during their time together

  • Friends from different communities took turns sharing songs

  • A high-spirited and joyful atmosphere prevailed throughout the conference

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