The youth conference in Guwahati, India, held from 11 to 13 October, included young people from the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura. It began with a warm welcome by youth dressed in traditional attire who lined the pathway to the venue and greeted guests and participants as they arrived. Close to 1,200 young people made their way to the main hall where, in a rarefied atmosphere, prayers were said for the well-being of their communities.
Regardless of the various social circumstances of the participants, it became clear through the conference discussions that everyone shared a desire to contribute to the betterment of society. Stories of service were recounted by many of the participants that demonstrated qualities of perseverance, dedication, and selflessness. One instance was of a young lady who shared how she had initially found it challenging to attract her peers to join with her in service efforts. However, she persevered and over time their interest grew to the point that she now collaborates with two groups of youth. They have not only become her very good friends but are also fully committed and engaged in activities that contribute to the community-building process in their neighbourhoods.
“That so many youth in my community are working together to serve the younger generation, helping them develop the capacity to live a life of meaningful service to others, is a positive force that has visible effect.”
A participant at the conference
The youth also shared examples of the transformative power of applying the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh in their lives that led to changes in some of their traditional social norms. One youth commented, “Being a girl, my parents, like many others, would not permit me to go out to participate in service activities. But slowly, after interacting with the community and other youth engaged in the process of applying the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh in service to others, I too have been allowed to participate and now I am even here, attending this conference!”
The arts were an integral part of the conference, with the evening plenaries devoted to sharing skits, songs, dances, musical performances, and poetry, all inspired by the conference materials and workshop discussions. In a drama entitled “Transformation of Youth”, one group depicted the opportunities and challenges they face and how drawing on spiritual forces can assist them in their efforts to serve in their communities. “Prayer holds a special power that assists us in overcoming obstacles,” confirmed one youth.
The size and unity of the gathering helped participants to experience the power of collective action, which they plan to draw on after returning home. The friendships built during the conference will serve as a source of strength and encouragement as they continue to walk the path of service together.
Guests and participants were warmly welcomed at the conference
Participants consulted on how they can assist those younger than themselves to contribute to the well-being of their communities
Participants of all ages engaged in lively and insightful discussions
The conference was filled with both purposeful study and joyful fellowship
The study of the materials was enhanced by creative expression through the arts
Music and the arts were a significant component of the conference
A group photo of the conference participants. Click to enlarge