Advance Women's Leadership

The Global Peace Youth Festival 2023: Youth Engagement and Thinking Before, During and After

Anu Lama
December 12, 2023

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 good, but their spirits fly high, and so was the case at the Global Peace Youth Festival 2023.

The Global Peace Youth Festival 2023 is a part of the GPC 2023 and it is for the youth. Held in Cuneta Astrodome in the Pasay City of the Philippines, the festival was something. With thousands of youths, mostly university students, participating in the program the festival was something to think about and I thought a lot; before, during and after.

Before the festival, as I was looking through its schedule, I really thought a lot. 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 gain and retain the attention of young people on these topics in a big Astrodome and how the performances sit together alongside these conversations. Honestly, I had lots of doubts and I was wrong!

I was wrong because the performances and the topics sat well together. As Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon came, he not only talked about the history of the Korea, the division and the Korean Dream but also inspired the youths present to take ownership of the bigger dream, calling out “Aju”, a Korean word for ownership.

So, during the festival, I thought what a great way to engage youths who have so much space for distractions. Following the Chairman, many significant people came and presented their thoughts, shared their experiences and taught the youth on important topics.

For instance, Asec. Dexter A. Galban, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education in the Youth, Education and Peace topic came and talked about the Sustainable Development Goals, their importance and the plans and projects to support Education. Jing Castaneda, Broadcaster and Social media personality, taught the youth an important lesson on being a “responsible content consumer” first rather than the content producer on fighting disinformation and working for peacebuilding. Personally, I liked the way Heeryoung Haley Kim from GPF Korea engaged the audience as she advocated the 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, the way it happened was good and on time. Shintya Rahmi from GPF Indonesia, Rumit Walia from GPF India, Kier Aventurado from GPF Philippines and Pach Pagnavorn from Global Peace Alliance Cambodia 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 the ‘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”.

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 them and it definitely engaged them. The appearances and performances in between programs were more than enough and it was good.

The Peacebuilders Pledge at the end, with all the youths present was a sight to see. From the performances by Janine Tenoso, 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 what a wonderful experience and what a great way to engage youth. It was indeed a festival, but one with learnings 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.

Also, what a spirit of the people to sit through more than four hours during the festival, and with enthusiasm and the Filipino energy.

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

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