The youth is on fire: Genfest happens from July 6 to 8 at the World Trade Center in Manila.
Breaking borders
Pam Musni (The Philippine Star) - June 29, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Come together with youth from all over the world in Genfest's first show in Asia.

There’s a lot to be said about the current state of the world, what with all the hate crimes, systematic oppression and ugly tidbits in between. It doesn’t help that there seems to be a continuous slew of bad news, pouring through the various social outlets and mediums we eyeball. For the most part, these play out similar narratives — a constant struggle of us versus them, where it’s not the compassionate route that is heeded but the popular, polarizing front. What is left then is a paralyzing legacy of wrath, where instead of considering the other side, we blatantly disregard it. Because why even bother when they’re so clearly wrong, consequences be damned. Right?

But while it can be intimidating to go up against frictional forces, it isn’t entirely impossible. And if there’s one thing that Genfest 2018 shows, it’s that you could do so regardless of who you are, what you believe in, or how young you are.

The Genfest, in a nutshell, is a gathering of youth from all over the world promoting their vision for a united world. This year is the first time it’s held in Asia, as previous years saw it mostly celebrated in Italy, home of Focolare Movement founder Chiara Lubich. It’s also aptly themed “Beyond All Borders,” reflective of today’s divisive times and the need to look past these contrivances. And with an international community in attendance, this theme garners a little more weight, as participants are given the opportunity to share ideas and culture through talks, workshops or other immersion activities.

The event could be seen as an organic step in the Focolare Movement’s vision, as the movement itself is built upon the tenets of universal brotherhood and solidarity. Conceived during the dredges of wartime, one could say that the lay movement’s ideals served as a counter to the senseless violence of the period, and continues to hold up against the violence of the modern age. And with the institution of Youth for a United World, Focolare’s youth arm, it also understands the critical role young people play in building an inclusive world, as they are both the most affected and the most willing to be the change they seek in the world.

That said, Genfest looks to be a dialogue on the ways peace and unity can be achieved in this day and age, and what stake the youth has in reaching this goal. Mainly to be held from July 6-8 at the World Trade Center, the event will also have various venues for its 100+ forums and workshops, including De La Salle University. Topics comprised are 1) Economy, Common Good, Work and Sustainability, 2) Diversity, Relationships and Dialogues, 3) Peace, Justice and Human Rights, 4) Ecology, Health and Sports, 5) Arts and Social Development, 6) Education and Culture of Unity, 7) Media and Communication and 8) Politics, and were handpicked by the youth both in a series of consultations. They will also be taught by experts, both at the local and international level.

Other important sessions include the Hands for Humanity, where attendees could either help in cleanup and urban beautification projects, assist in programs for those with special needs, volunteer in feeding programs, or spread the message of unity through other creative means. And in the evening, participants gather together for the Time Out for Peace, where they can partake in a moment of solemnity that goes beyond religious differences.

Indeed, while the world can be a harsh place to live in sometimes, it’s not necessarily at the tail end of redemption. And as Genfest shows, it’s only through unity that we can turn the tide after years of division.

* * *

The main program of the Genfest will be held at the World Trade Center Metro Manila and workshops will be held in universities in Manila from July 6-8. For more information, visit http://y4uw.org/events/genfest-2018.

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