After a long morning of several interfaith youth meetings in Sarajevo, I joined my fellow URI Global Youth Ambassadors and headed to old town for lunch, past the Gavi Husrev Begova Mosque just as Jummah (Friday) prayers were taking place. The hundreds of worshippers prostrated in the open-air sunshine next to the building was a beautiful sight, as the hustle and bustle of locals and tourists from many different religions and cultures bustled surrounded us.
Sarajevo offered an inspiring setting for what proved to be a long weekend filled with inspiration and growth for our new Cooperation Circle – Europe Youth Leadership CC.
Having timed our meeting to coincide with the international Sarajevo Peace Event 2014, hundreds of fellow peace activists filled the city with their visions of the future. We were lucky to attend a couple of workshops in-between our own meetings as well. At a Global Network of Religions for Children workshop, we created origami peace doves and chatted with young Bosnians about the interfaith projects they’d been involved in.
On a sunny Sunday morning, we helped the team from URI Europe run their workshop on peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovinian and beyond. Later, we were happy to be reunited with an artist from Create Peace Project with whom many of us had worked with at a training earlier this year in San Francisco.
As for our own work, we may be a new CC, but all of our members have been involved with the URI Young Leaders Program for a number of years now, and we have great ambition. Our aim is to grow the presence of youth activities, but, in particular, to grow youth leadership within URI.
Inspired by the early pioneers and generations of interfaith leaders before us, we hope to bring fresh vision and new ways of tackling the problems of interreligious violence and conflict challenging our societies. We want to give a strong voice to the concerns of young adults from diverse faith backgrounds as we work together to tackle common issues. We also want to see more young people throughout Europe accepting and sharing in messages of interfaith cooperation and friendship.
Our ambition is to grow the interfaith movement by identifying and investing in Europe’s most innovative, passionate and talented young interfaith leaders – for which there is no shortage. Building on the enthusiasm of these young adults, our CC will offer resources, training and skills development to create not simply the leaders of the future, but the leaders of now.
Surely, we have a long road and a lot of work ahead of us. But if we can build on the success of our Sarajevo meeting, I’m confident that our new CC can become a valuable addition to the URI family.