From July to October, there will be 114 Youth Conferences being held around the world, the purpose being that these youth (ages 15-30) come together from theirs and neighboring areas to discuss community building activities. These youth have felt the need to change their environments for the better, concentrate on how they can keep developing over not just the next few years but for the next few generations.
The discussions included negative forces that surround us, learning how to cope with them and focus on the positive, working with people of all ages to serve their shared community, especially those ages that are from 12-15, also known as junior youth. These conferences were started through the Baha’i world governing body called The Universal House of Justice.
I have had the honor to attend two of these conferences, in Auckland and in Port Villa. There were more than 450 participants all over New Zealand and the Cook Islands attending the Auckland conferences and over 1,700 participants from Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Tahiti.
There are still a lot more going on but the result of just these two conferences have started junior youth empowerment programs, service projects all over these countries, and Ruhi study circles which are classes held in peoples homes to look at spiritual and holy writings to learn about our spiritual needs, not just physical and material needs.
There are many negative forces all over the world. From the Vanuatu conference, the participants came from poorer areas where education does not usually go pass the elementary level. They spoke that many youth have abused marijuana and alcohol. There is no progression in their lives, many have small children and they realize that things need to change so that their kids and they themselves live better and productive lives. Supporting each other by having more gatherings for their communities, neighbors can watch over each other’s children, have classes for the adults to educate themselves, and continuous consultations on what the progress of their environments will help everyone in their communities.
In New Zealand, the participants came mostly from well educated, financially stable backgrounds. Their negative forces that they shared were also the abuse of drugs and alcohol but also there are materialistic goals that get in the way. Making more money, working hard in their prospective career paths, were keeping the youth from understanding their responsibility in their communities as a whole. Their plans are geared more towards junior youth, getting to know the people around their neighborhoods, and focusing on not just their personal needs and wants are but also what their community needs and wants are.