Almaty Youth Conference

Kazakhstan | 17-19 August 2013

Almaty rests at the foot of the majestic Trans-Ili Alatau mountain range in Kazakhstan. Within view of its green slopes and snow-capped peaks, almost 300 young people from countries in central Asia, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, assembled to consult about how to contribute to the betterment of their communities. Those gathered were joined by Continental Counsellors Gloria Javid from India and Zebiniso Solieva from Kazakhstan, both participating as representatives of the Universal House of Justice.

Conversations explored how the call to arise and serve one’s community necessitates that youth collaborate and encourage one another. “The most difficult thing when you talk about the idea of the betterment of the world,” one participant said, “is that people do not believe that it can happen. It helps when we explain that if we are united, this hope can be realized.”

“Our purpose that was given to us by God is to participate in the betterment of the world.”

A participant at the conference

One group of 24 youth from the same school in a village in southern Kazakhstan travelled together to attend the conference. During one of their small group sessions, they drew a map of their community and enthusiastically considered ways to share the ideas they had discussed with others when they returned home.

After watching the film Frontiers of Learning, which highlights the efforts of four communities around the world to foster the social and spiritual development of their members, one participant commented, “My hopes were raised after seeing the section about India. I saw many things we can do in my community in Kyrgyzstan.”

Artistic presentations each evening helped to enhance the youths’ understanding of the concepts they had discussed during the day. Cultural dances from each region included a diverse array of costumes and instruments such as the doira, the traditional Kazakh drum. The final evening session included a dance performed by representatives of all four participating countries, symbolic of the bonds of friendship and unity of purpose developed among the youth throughout the conference. As the participants prepared to return to their homes, many expressed deep gratitude for having been given the opportunity to consult on how to further stimulate the activities in their communities and inspire others to join them in taking the first steps towards a process of community building. “I will continue this conversation with my friends,” said one youth, “until they join us in working towards building a better society.”


  • Using skits, the youth explored how they could talk to their siblings, parents, and friends about what they had studied together
  • Participants decided that one way they could share insights from the conference with others would be to draw a poster showing the current situation in each community, and another showing what they would like to see in 20 years
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  • Youth arriving at conference venue

  • Participants register for the conference

  • A spirit of friendship prevailed throughout the conference

  • Insights gleaned from study of the conference material are shared

  • Youth preparing for an artistic presentation

  • The conference was an opportunity for the participants to reflect together about the contribution they can make to the spiritual and social development of their communities

  • A group presents a map of their community, created during an exercise to help better understand the social and physical reality of where they live

  • A small group of participants gather outside to consult

  • Youth share a presentation with their workshop group

  • A group creatively explores a concept presented in the conference material

  • Friends from different communities took turns sharing songs

  • The atmosphere of the conference was joyful and high-spirited

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