Bahai News -
Bahá'í Youth Conference in Brazil focuses on preparing young people
to become agents of global change
SÃO PAULO, Brazil, 8 March 2002 (BWNS) -- With the goal of discussing
how young people can make a more positive impact on the world, more than 600
youth from 15 countries came to the Ninth Congress of the Baha'i Youth
Movement of the Americas here 17-21 January 2002 to talk about peace,
change and the future. Held at the Soltanieh Bahá'í Educational Center
outside Mogi Mirim, some 150 kilometers from São Paulo, the four-day
Conference program featured talks by members of the Board of Counsellors
for the Americas, artistic presentations, small-group workshops and
Organized by the Bahá'í National Youth Committee of Brazil, the goal of
the event was to bring together youth from different countries and
backgrounds in order to share ideas of how to better the world. The
Congress was the latest event in an international Bahá'í Youth Movement
that is focused in the Americas.
"It brings youth together, it unifies, it gives the youth a sense of the
Bahá'í culture," said Massoud Moslehi, 33, from Victoria, Canada.
"Bahá'í culture" means living according to the teachings of the Bahá'í
Faith, he said, which not only promote the oneness of humankind but also
exhort Bahá'ís to live an active life of service to humanity and to be
upright in their personal behavior.
The first of the Congresses was in Santiago, Chile, where some 650 youth
from 25 countries gathered in January 1998. Thousands of youth from
dozens of countries gathered at international congresses in 2000 and
2001, held in Canada, Ecuador, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and
"Youth have played a special and unique role in every generation,"
states a paper on the Congress's Web site, explaining the goals and
purposes of the Bahá'í Youth Movement. "They have often served as a
positive and catalytic force pushing society towards something better.
Free from the pressures of work and family responsibilities, their
energy, enthusiasm and zeal can be harnessed to promote a positive
movement within society to bring about change that ensures a better
future for them and their children."
Participants at the most recent Congress indeed appeared to be energized
by the event, expressing the sense that they do have the power to
change the world for the better, by focusing on positive actions and
their own moral development. "We are not revolutionaries in the usual
use of the word, we are not trying to make governments fall, or make a
guerrilla war," said Gaël Masrour, a 28-year-old Bahá'í living in Chile.
"But we are trying to change the world as we see it nowadays. I think
these conferences are only a step in this process, not a goal in itself,
but a step.
"Humanity is going through a time where no room is left for idle fancy
and useless leisure," Masrour continued. Not to take action at this
point in the development of the world, he said, is "suicide."
"If we want change," he said, "we need to transform both our own selves
and society in a parallel process. We must become moral leaders and make
a difference through hard work and example."
In addition to talks by senior Bahá'í advisors, there were numerous
presentations by the youth themselves, ranging from music and dance
performances to a video sent by youth who attended the Youth Conference
in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, in July 2001.
Lena Delchad, 24, from San Francisco, USA, said the coming together of
so many young people from so many countries created a unique energy --
which was the main reason he had come.
Youth conferences like these "send a surge of energy through the youth
straight into their own communities," he said.
The youth ended the four-day event by committing themselves to actions
they will take over the next year in order to effect a positive change
in their community.
Some of these actions included starting moral education classes for
children, making use of the arts as an education tool, starting a moral
education theater group, and becoming involved in community-building
Several groups of youth launched a two-week campaign immediately
following the Congress to spread the principles of the Bahá'í Faith.
The Congress Web site, at http://www.mjbahai.com/brasil, contains
information about the Congress, the message of the Bahá'í Youth
Committee of Brazil, documents from previous Youth Congresses, and
information about the Bahá'í Youth Movement.
©Copyright 2002, Baha'i World News Service
Page last updated/revised 020308
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