Macau Youth Conference

Macau | 16-18 August 2013

In 17 locations on five continents, thousands of young people from over 48 countries came together on the third weekend of August to discuss the unique characteristics of the age of youth, the forces that affect them, the role youth can play in the betterment of their communities, and their responsibility towards the younger generations.

In East Asia, over 430 youth from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Macau, and Taiwan gathered in Macau where they spent three days reflecting on their part in this world-embracing endeavour. In a region so blessed with richness of culture, the gathering was indeed unique and vibrant. On meeting their peers from other countries, the Japanese group was distributing origami doves that they explained to be “symbols of peace from Japan”. The gathering, cosponsored by the Secretariat for Social Affairs & Culture in Macau, the Macau Foundation and the School of the Nations, provided the opportunity for these young people to reflect on ways they could help improve their communities and in turn assist in bringing about a more peaceful world.

"When people think they have to be the same to be united, they are missing the point. We are all different, but we work together."

A participant at the conference

On the first morning of the conference, Continental Counsellor Dr. Lori Noguchi shared with the youth that this was a pivotal time in their lives and suggested they thoughtfully consider the many choices and opportunities they have to make a difference in the world around them.

When the participants divided into workshops, one of the topics they discussed was how to avoid a fragmented approach to life that fails to see the connections among its various aspects. One young man from Taiwan stated: "When we think in dichotomies, we believe we have to choose one thing and sacrifice something else, and this presents a dilemma on what to do." He went on to say, "I now realize that all aspects of our lives work together and this increases our capacity!" A young woman from Japan explained how she has also come to see her life as a coherent whole rather than a series of choices, for instance, between study or service. She said she now sees that "service needs to be an integral part of our daily lives." Another youth remarked: “When things align themselves, they become more powerful. We’re seeing that now!”

During the weekend, the youth also discussed qualities they can develop in order to more effectively work with others toward a common purpose. Some of these qualities included consideration for others, humility and an appreciation of one another's differences. One participant shared, "When people think they have to be the same to be united, they are missing the point. We are all different," she said, "but we work together."

In the workshops and plenary gatherings, the participants were provided ample opportunity to create and share arts that reflected the themes they were discussing. A group from Macau presented a dance called “Stories of Service” where each dancer told the audience what they had learned while offering some acts of service in their communities. Another group presented a skit that illustrated the social forces that affect youth such as backbiting, materialism, competition, and peer pressure, and a group of 12 youth from Hong Kong shared a song they composed called “The Youth Today”. Another inspiring moment was when a number of participants shared the Bahá'í prayer “Blessed is the Spot” with the verses sung in six different languages.

Throughout the weekend the youth also shared examples of arts from their cultures including two women who performed a beautiful traditional Chinese dance using ribbons made of pure silk and a youth from Japan who shared the Okinawa Dance.

As the weekend ended and the youth prepared to return to their countries, the spirit of unity created at the conference was felt by all. They had made new friends, had shared their perspectives and arts with each other and had realized that despite their different cultures and languages, their goals -- like the thousands gathered at the 16 other youth conferences around the world-- were the same: to advance the cause of unity and peace by working together to improve their communities.


  • One participant from Korea summed up the spirit of unity and collaboration that many at the conference shared: "It is so heartwarming to see people from all over share in this idea of helping youth!"
  • A group of 16 youth from Macau did a traditional Portuguese dance, a reflection of the history of Macau as a former Portuguese colony. They then invited many young people from the audience who joined the dance on stage
  • As the conference began, colorful ribbons were unfurled around the venue and the youth sang a song with the lyrics: “Let it be this generation to bring peace to the world”
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  • A group engages in lively discussion during one of the conference sessions

  • Youth gathered in workshop groups to reflect on themes such as developing the capacity for true friendship

  • Music and the arts were a large component of the conference, bringing joy to all those who participated

  • The conference was an opportunity for the participants to reflect together about the contribution they can make to the progress of those younger than themselves

  • The conference was filled with both purposeful study and joyful fellowship

  • A group of youth from Korea studies one of the sections of the material together

  • Some youth shared a traditional dance from China

  • A group of youth from Japan shared insights and plans for when they return home

  • The participants learned new songs together

  • A group from Macau developed a creative dance on service

  • A group of friends from Macau shared a traditional Portuguese dance

  • The study of the materials was enhanced by creative expression through the arts

  • A group from Korea shared a dance they prepared for the conference

  • The study of the materials was enhanced by creative expression through the arts

  • After lunch one day the participants gathered for group games

  • A group photo of the participants

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