Youth Engagement and Thinking Before, During and After | GPC 2023

Anu Lama
December 10, 2023
People posing at the global peace youth festival.

Youth Posing at the Global Peace Youth Festival

As I participate in the Global Peace Convention (GPC) 2023, I am greeted not just by the hot tropical weather but also by the warm hearts and youthful spirit of the Filipino people. Not only do they dress well, but their spirits fly high, and that was the case at the Global Peace Youth Festival 2023

The Global Peace Youth Festival is a part of the GPC 2023. Held in Cuneta Astrodome in the Pasay City of the Philippines, the festival was really something. With thousands of youth—mostly university students—participating in the program, the festival was an event I won’t forget anytime soon. 

I glanced at the schedule before the festival. There were four topics for discussion during the day, and it was packed. The topics were on important conversations like: Youth, Education, and Peace: Shaping the Future Together, Peaceful Coexistence in a Digital Age: Navigating Online and Offline Worlds, Korean Dream for Youth: Inspiring Leadership and Innovation and Cultural Tapestry: Weaving Unity in Diversity.  

I wondered how the festival could gain and retain the attention of young people on these topics in a big astrodome and how the performances would sit together alongside these conversations. Honestly, I had lots of doubts… but I was wrong! 

A group of people, including young individuals, standing in front of a banner labeled

Group Photo of Individuals Holding Korean Dream and Aju Signs

I was wrong because the performances and the topics sat well together. As Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon came onto the stage, he talked about the history of the Korea, the division, and the Korean Dream. But what was also inspiring was when he challenged the young people present to take ownership of this great dream, calling out “Aju,” a Korean word for ownership. 

I thought the festival was a great way to engage youth who normally have so much space for distractions. Following the GPF Chairman’s speech, many significant people came and presented their thoughts, shared their experiences, and spoke on important topics. 

For instance, Asec. Dexter A. Galban, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education in the Philippines, discussed Youth, Education, and Peace related to the Sustainable Development Goals and their importance, as well as upcoming plans and projects to support education. Jing Castaneda, a broadcaster and social media personality, taught the youth an important lesson on being a “responsible content consumer” first rather than a content producer when it comes to fighting disinformation and working for peacebuilding. Personally, I liked the way Heeryoung Haley Kim from GPF Korea engaged the audience as she advocated for One Korea, all while talking about finding your why and your identity in this big world. 

Finally, as the panel discussion on the Cultural Tapestry: Weaving Unity in Diversity came through, we got to hear from Shintya Rahmi (GPF Indonesia), Rumit Walia (GPF India), Kier Aventurado (GPF Philippines), and Pach Pagnavorn from Global Peace Alliance Cambodia. They all emphasized the diversity of each country and how there is unity despite the differences; all grounded on the common principle of “One Family Under God” but different local phrases. In Indonesia it is Pancasila and in India it is Vasudaiva Kutumbakam.

Finishing up, Kier Adventura, Program Director of the Youth Development, emphasized the importance of genuine conversations and hearing the opinions of people on the ground. He said, “We just need to listen and push. Community is important and communication is two way.” 

A global peace youth festival with a group of people waving their hands at the event.

Group Photo at the Global Peace Youth Festival

Communication is indeed a two-way street and the Global Peace Youth Festival 2023 was a two-way event, as the audience engaged and the speakers went to the audience asking questions, hearing their thoughts and takeaways. It was catered to the youth and it definitely engaged them. The appearances and performances in between programs were plentiful and inspiring. 

The Peacebuilders Pledge at the end, with all the youths present was a sight to see. From the performances by Janine Tenoso to the talks to the final performance by DILAW, it was perfectly designed. The lights from phones during the performances looked like fireflies in the dark. It sure was a sight to see. 

As I write this after the program, I think about what a wonderful experience it was and what a great way to engage youth. It was indeed a festival, but one with learning and not just performances. It was great being a part of it.

A man standing on stage at the global peace youth festival, addressing a crowd of people.

One of the speakers, Ingill Ra, on stage at the Global Peace Youth Festival

The spirit of the people to sit through more than four hours during the festival, and with enthusiasm and the Filipino energy, was beautiful. 

What a spirit and a great way to learn, all while having fun! 

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