What do we say about Quaker youth we encounter on our path? A couple of weeks ago I attended the 2013 Quaker Youth Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. It felt like seeing the first flowers in spring to be surrounded by more than 100 teenagers, who witnessed the discussion about “Creating a Climate of Change,” which was the theme of the conference. These teenagers came from different Friends schools where they have opportunities to learn about the beliefs and testimonies of Friends. At this conference I saw that most of these students were following God’s leadings to be good stewards as leaders on the Earth. Their willingness to make great and radical changes in their life and in the world was evident as we participated in the workshops, lectures, and in worship meetings. For instance, in one of the activities for creating changes in oneself, some students did not mind being with bare feet, or putting their shoes on their head. Not only did their partner for the activity notice and acknowledge these changes, but also in some way or another everyone in the worship room did.
As I worshiped among Friends in Bolivia, I had always seen and heard that the adults were the ones giving advice to younger ones about making changes in one’s life; but often youth made the decision quickly for those changes in their lives. Making changes points to transformation. At my Friends church I witnessed how the changes in the lives of youth and/or adults marvelously influenced my life, my faith community, and society. Thus, today I believe that Quaker youth who are developing leadership skills—based on integrity, service, and community—will be the ones making changes in the world. And this is because God is working in their hearts.
By Emma Condori-Mamani, a Friend from Bolivia