“This is the very first time I have participated in such a gathering and the feeling and atmosphere is such that we are all one family. We are learning from our study and our consultation how we can contribute to making a positive change in our communities,” said one participant at the Kampong Thom youth conference in Cambodia, held from 20 to 22 October. Despite recent flooding that swept across most of the country, displacing families and causing widespread damage, over 900 young people from Thailand and Cambodia gathered to deliberate on the ways their generation could contribute to building materially and spiritually prosperous communities.
Local government officials, including the deputy vice governor, warmly welcomed those gathered, acknowledging their commitment to serving their neighbourhoods and villages. He spoke of the importance of assisting communities in both their spiritual and material development, and about the need for all members of a community, particularly the youth, to support the process.
“We are learning from our study and our consultation how we can contribute to making a positive change in our communities.”
A participant at the conference
Participants discussed the characteristics of the unique period of youth and explored how they could invite more of their peers into a conversation about community building. They talked about the importance of having a spirit of generosity to share learning with one another and linking the sharing of knowledge as a source of empowerment for individuals and communities. One youth said, “When we learn something new, even if it seems minor, if we share it we are more likely to advance intellectually and spiritually as we strive to apply our learning.” Another commented, “I have been wondering how youth can change and move the world. Now I believe that it is through love and unity, and that we must learn how to support and help each other achieve it. I am very impressed with the fellowship among the youth here and I have decided to replicate this when I go back home.”
The evening plenaries featured artistic presentations created by the youth, which highlighted their understanding of the concepts they had studied together during the day. Participants also shared stories with one another, illustrating the impact of some of the positive and negative forces that they face in their communities and how they can work together to transcend them. “Many youth in my community cannot afford to continue their education so they have to look for work to help their parents. On their day off, we have invited many to study the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh together and engage in service activities with younger youth and children in the community. Since participating in these activities we have all noticed positive change in the community as the youth work together with this new sense of purpose.”
Those gathered were filled with eagerness to express in deeds their deepened understanding of how to contribute to the progress of their neighbourhoods and villages. Touched by the warmth of the bonds of friendship they had built together, they resolved to encourage many others to serve alongside them in this noble endeavour.
Participants register for the conference
Continental Counsellors representing the Universal House of Justice are warmly welcomed as they arrive at the conference venue
Youth gathered in workshop groups to discuss more deeply themes such as developing the capacity for true friendship
A spirit of joy and focus imbued the atmosphere
Participants between the ages of 15 and 30 shared ideas, reflected on their own experience, and made plans to continue their efforts to serve their communities
Participants used a variety of activities to deepen their understanding of the concepts in the materials
Music and the arts were an integral component of the conference, bringing joy to all those who participated