Nadi Youth Conference

Fiji | 23-25 August 2013

The Words of God, reverently sung in joyful tones, harmonized with the lapping waves of the Pacific as participants joined their voices in welcome at the conference in Nadi. Following the morning devotions, a group presented a Fijian meke—a traditional dance that weaves storytelling and song and is reserved for special occasions—after which representatives of the Universal House of Justice and a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of Fiji welcomed the youth to this momentous gathering.

A day earlier, more than 500 youth from six countries—the Caroline Islands, Mariana Islands, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu Islands, Hawaii, and Fiji—arrived at the venue with radiant faces, greeting one another with warm enthusiasm. Mingling in their happy exchanges could be heard the diverse accents of Bislama, Japanese, Tagalog, and Yapese.

“If we are working alone it is very hard to achieve what we want to do but with encouragement we can achieve what the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh wishes us to do.”

A participant at the conference

Workshop groups began by exploring the characteristics of this unique stage of their lives, the opportunities it affords, and the responsibilities it brings. The conference materials raised a number of important questions and discussions helped participants consider different ways of viewing their lives. As understanding crystallized they came to see reality as a coherent whole with various dimensions that complement and strengthen one another, rather than being comprised of separate parts which require a juggling act to balance. For example, one young woman shared that in the past, she felt she faced a choice between service and studies, but found that when she decided to intensify her efforts to be of service, her schoolwork improved as well.

The rhythmic beat of a lali—a drum that is traditionally used to summon Fijians together—sounded the call to the evening program. Those gathered watched Frontiers of Learning, a documentary featuring the insights of four locations around the world engaged in the process of community building. A young man, moved by the spirit of cooperation and mutual support he saw demonstrated in the film, said, “One person was helped to serve, and was inspired to help someone else. We have to remember that in order to keep going.” Another observed, “You can see people working together. If we are working alone it is very hard to reach our goals but with encouragement we can achieve what the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh wishes us to do.”

Reflecting on the way that service develops our capacity to contribute to meaningful change, one youth commented, “I was very shy in the beginning but I learned new things through the process. Now I am serving others who are studying the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and applying them to their lives, and also groups of younger youth. It is a gradual learning process and God will guide us if we follow His path.”

The evening’s plenary was marked with participants sharing experiences of how friendships helped them rise above negative social forces and align their efforts with positive ones. A youth said, “Sometimes we give up our summer holidays to study together and we form a strong bond with each other. What motivates us is our friendship.” Another youth said, “These friends are more than the ones that I can go to the mall or the beach with, these are also the friends who I can serve with and pray with.”

It was bolstered by such friendships, and with strengthened resolve, that the youth left the conference committed to work for the betterment of their communities. No longer seeing themselves as single points of light, they recognized that by focusing their efforts together their powers are multiplied and the light of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh will surely be diffused throughout the Pacific.

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  • Participants arrive at the venue

  • Young people gather in groups to study the message of the Universal House of Justice dated 1 July 2013

  • The conference was characterized by thoughtful reflection and joyful consultation

  • Participants from different clusters examine their role in society and how they can contribute to the betterment of their communities

  • Two participants study the conference materials

  • Small group sessions discuss ways in which older youth can assist younger youth

  • New friendships between participants developed during the course of the conference

  • Youth shared insights gained from their study of the conference materials

  • Finding creative ways to present the concepts studied in the workshops

  • The participants shared in the joy and energy of the traditional dances performed by youth from different regions

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