Spring Seminar happened the first week of April and was a great success. We had an excellent Planning Committee, a committed Youth leadership team, and dedicated staff, volunteers, and interns who worked together to put together this fantastic event. Here are two excerpts of initial reactions after returning home from the seminar from two youth participants to their peers in a Facebook group*
"I just wanted to say I'm happy I know people like you guys and gals. Today it was nice today so I wanted to ride a bike. The only bike available was my moms pink bike so I decided to ride it. I was then yelled at and called "faggot, gaywad, etc". by the family of the guy who jumped me in 7th grade on accusations of being gay. I then had sticks and stones thrown at my by little kids in the neighborhood, this was just one incident of many that has happened since I was in kindergarten. So I just wanted to thank you all for being such great people and to tell you, you all give me HOPE."
This comment received immediate responses - words of encouragement and support through the network of youth fostered at the conference. It also sparked a response from other youth attendees to share their personal experiences and their confidence and hope to make change after attending the seminar. Another youth recalls going to a Catholic camp in middle school where a rumor was spread about his sexual orientation and the other kids bullied him. This led to a change in religion and a change in school - big changes for the entire family. This change did not stop bullies, but the experience at the seminar changed his attitude and gave him hope.
"…I sincerely just wanted to say thank you for one of the most amazing interfaith experiences of my life. I've always been considered by many a "gay" kid because of my attitude towards situations and in general life.….Hanging around people such as your great selves (Unitarians) was awesome! It gave a free and inclusive environment to openly express who I am, to show my "true colors." You all are an inspiration to society and to the world! I cannot wait to see you all next seminar, and believe me when I say that there will no longer be just "two Californians." I told all the youth at my local church and about 4 to 5 express interest. I don't care if I didn't meet you at the seminar, just know I love you all!!!"
*These youth gave me permission to share this testimony with Envoys.
How bold and brave!
We will have a Seminar recap call on:
Tuesday, May 14th from 5pm-6pm Eastern.
We will review the panels, creative programming, the Envoy lunch, and read through the 2013 Intergenerational Spring Seminar Statement.
PLEASE RSVP TO RECEIVE THE AGENDA AND CALL IN NUMBER - firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-986-5165 x3
In Peace, Love & Justice,
Envoy Outreach Coordinator