“For me it was a big step to come to this conference. Even a few months ago I didn’t know there was such a group of people who wanted to better the world,” said a youth participating in the conference in Moscow, Russia, from 27 to 29 September. “I now see that it’s not enough to just try to be a good person yourself—it is much better to walk the path of service in the company of other people.” This comment demonstrated a shared understanding developed among more than 250 youth who gathered to consult about how to release the potential of their generation for service to humanity.
Discussions delving deeply into the themes and concepts provided in the conference materials helped the youth appreciate the desire and capacity of their generation to make a contribution to the fortunes of humanity. They explored how youth can harmonize the various dimensions of their lives—such as education, work, and family—by dedicating themselves to selfless service to their communities, particularly for the intellectual and moral development of those younger than themselves.
“Yesterday became a milestone in my life—my vision of the world has been transformed. Imagine the change that can happen with many more young people as we share with them what we learned here!”
A participant at the conference
The encouraging atmosphere allowed for a conversation to unfold in which all felt their contributions were welcome. One young woman who had learned about the conference two weeks earlier said that while participating, she felt like she was among friends as loving and supportive as her family. Study of the materials showed that this spirit of mutual support is strengthened in the arena of service. “Joint action in the pursuit of a higher goal forms a strong foundation for true friendship,” one participant said, “and I am certain that I found true friends here!”
As the days progressed, the youth gained insights into the characteristics of individuals and communities that are striving to develop a spiritually enriching pattern of collective life. “A vibrant community is one whose members share a common vision and a noble goal, and act in unity to reach it. If a community has this vitality, it will attract new members and continuously grow,” one participant said. “The materials clearly demonstrated that the health of a community is directly related to the spiritual education of its members and their readiness to serve selflessly,” said another.
The use of the arts enhanced the beauty of the gathering while illustrating many of the youth’s lofty ideals. A group from Novosibirsk presented a colourful traditional kalinka malinka dance, while some friends from Irkutsk painted a picture of the world together on stage. The atmosphere was enriched by the deep notes of the violin and homus, a mouth harp associated with the Sakha region that is played in many cultures all over the globe.
By the end of their time together, those gathered were filled with eagerness to share their ideas and joy with their peers back home, a sentiment they channelled into plans for immediate action. A group of youth from one region decided to continue meeting together every month. Others planned presentations about community-building efforts, arts evenings, and devotional meetings to encourage friends to join them.
“This is the conference of deeds, not only words!” one young woman from Kazan said as she expressed how she had been inspired to intensify her efforts to contribute to the spiritual empowerment of younger youth in her community. Another from Vladivostok shared, “Yesterday became a milestone in my life—my vision of the world has been transformed. Imagine the change that can happen with many more young people as we share with them what we learned here!”
About 250 youth from Russia and Armenia participated in the gathering
Discussions began in large groups and then broke into smaller ones in order to explore the concepts in light of their local realities
Consultations explored how everyone has capacities and ways to contribute to improving their communities
Groups reflected about how they could support those younger than themselves
Workshop discussions enabled the participants to engage more deeply with sections of the conference materials
Group study inspired thoughtful reflection and joyful interactions
Youth from the same communities gathered to consult about their plans when they return home
Youth were encouraged to share the insights from their workshops in the plenary gatherings
One group from Novosibirsk presented a colourful traditional kalinka malinka dance
A group from Irkutsk painted a beautiful picture together on stage
Joyful songs and dances expressed the bonds of friendship strengthened among the youth during their time together
A group photo of the conference participants