by Biyaya G. Quizon, WSCF Asia-Pacific Vice Chairperson
Choosing Hope, Taking Action! was the theme of the three-day “Post Assembly Summit of Asian Religious Youth Leaders of the Religions for Peace” held from September 5-7, 2007 in Singapore. Taunted as the world’s largest coalition of religious communities accredited by the United Nations, Religions for Peace is a prestigious organization that works through its affiliated inter-religious councils in 70 countries in six continents. Representing the Student Christian Movements (SCMs) in this Youth Summit was a great privileged.
The Youth Summit was an off-shoot of the 2006 World Youth Assembly in Kyoto, Japan of the Religions for Peace, whose objective was to build a Global Network of Religious Youth to confront violence and advance shared community in harmonious and peaceful co-existence. The meeting in Singapore which was participated in by 18 countries coming from Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and other interfaith groups from within Asia-Pacific region aimed to build continuous commitment in taking concrete actions to transform conflict, build peace and advance sustainable development.
The first evening of the Summit offered participants with many activities like production numbers, welcome speeches, and a well prepared Singaporean dinner. The opening program was an opportunity to meet new friends from many religious backgrounds. I will not forget the number of times I introduced myself and shared my organization to build and initiate contacts with the participants.
In an effort to widen the youth’s global perspective in working for justice and peace, speakers from Iraq, Israel and the United Nations have been invited. Among the speakers was Ms. Ryce Chanchai, Policy Associate for Asia of the United Nations Millennium Campaign who was asked several questions after her presentation. Her session made a significant impact on the participants’ critical understanding of how the United Nations concretely implement its poverty alleviation programs and policies in accordance to the Asia-Pacific countries needs.
The following days of the Youth Summit were allotted to sharing of Asian realities and efforts made by interfaith and religious youth groups to promote peace. Undeniably, most of the participants’ respective organizations have contributed in the effort to promote peace. As I listen to the presentations, I reflected on how this network would really materialize its effort to achieve peace that is based on justice and how religious and interfaith youth groups would be in the forefront of the struggle to achieve the unity amidst diversity? As a worldwide organization, the SCMs and WSCF can participate in the Religions for Peace endeavors and encourage its membership to be one with the marginalized calling to end the hegemonic powers that brought worldwide impoverishment of majority, insecurity and un-peace.
A co-participant in the Youth Summit, Kaythi Min Din from SCM Myanmar was appointed a member of the Asian Youth Council of the Religions for Peace together with ten other members from different religious groups. With my participation in the Youth Summit, I hope that WSCF AP will continue to cultivate a deeper understanding and commitment to inter-faith initiative for peace-building among its member movement and WSCF’s networking and solidarity efforts with inter-faith groups for building just-peace will be strengthened.