Danané Youth Conference

Côte d'Ivoire | 23-25 August 2013

Tucked away in the central-west corner of Côte d’Ivoire, Danané is situated along the verdantly forested mountain ridge that embraces the country’s borders with Guinea and Liberia. It was at a school in that town that some 430 young people from Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire gathered from 23 to 25 August. In this country whose peoples have suffered greatly from cruel civil wars, they came together to consider how they could, inspired by the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, contribute to the advancement of society.

In the opening session, which included an uplifting combination of prayers both read and chanted, the Continental Counsellors representing the Universal House of Justice and a representative of the National Spiritual Assembly welcomed the youth. Groups then dispersed to study in classrooms throughout the venue—possible because in a recent renovation the school had incorporated the needs of the conference.

“We can help to change the world if we apply what we are learning here in our own communities.”

A participant at the conference

Among the themes explored by those present were the characteristics of their generation, the positive and negative forces that impact their lives, and choosing what they give their time and energy to. An idea that impressed itself on their consciousness was the need to form groups to nurture and channel the surging energies of younger youth, who can contribute great vitality to their community as their capacity for collective service and true friendship is fostered. “It is here that I’ve understood that younger youth have great potential,” one participant said, “and we have to help them develop this potential in order to be protected from the destructive forces in their environment.” “We are a mirror for those younger than us and they imitate what we do, so we need to have exemplary conduct,” said another. Those gathered also discussed the importance of creating an environment of mutual support and assisting each other to commit to this aim.

Participants were inspired by seeing the development of other communities around the world in the film Frontiers of Learning. “I was particularly touched by the level of encouragement between those who were coordinating community-building efforts, such as groups for younger youth, and the people supporting these groups,” said one participant.

In the evenings, groups shared the artistic expressions they had worked on throughout the day. These included presentations on creative ways to invite younger youth to serve their communities and on the merits of assisting the younger generation to advance intellectually and spiritually. Finally, songs celebrating the principle of the unity of humanity were joyfully sung together.

As they set out to return to their homes, the youth confidently anticipated the impact the conference would have in strengthening the process of community-building in their neighbourhoods and villages. “We who are here, coming from different regions, represent the world in miniature,” one participant said, “and can help to change the world if we apply what we are learning here in our own communities.”

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  • Study of the materials in workshop groups inspired thoughtful reflection

  • Participants studied together in seven large workshops, often breaking into smaller groups for activities

  • Participants from the same communities reflected on their role as youth

  • One of the themes that absorbed the attention of the youth was how to nurture those younger than themselves

  • Participants in a workshop group study a section of the materials

  • A group activity organized outdoors on the conference grounds

  • Workshop groups studied in various parts of the venue

  • Consultation on the materials in groups helped to deepen the participants’ understanding of their responsibility to support those younger than themselves

  • Participants spent time planning how they could lend further impetus to the community building process when they returned home

  • Joyful songs about principles such as unity enriched the atmosphere

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