Reflections from the Connect Youth Conference

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By Natasha C. (grade 10)

Rachel Uwamahoro and Ivan Gatete are World Vision Youth Ambassadors from Rwanda. They have spent the last several weeks exploring Canada, province by province. Along the way, they have spoken at conferences in many cities including Halifax, Montreal and Winnipeg.

On Monday February 21st, six SMUS students, myself included, had the privilege of meeting Rachel and Ivan at the Connect Youth Conference in Nanaimo. Upon arrival, Linda Ly, our World Vision Regional Representative, gave each participant a nametag with a 1, 2 or 3 in the bottom right-hand corner. In the conference room were three divisions of refreshments ranging from large to small in size. The number on your nametag corresponded with the offering to which you could help yourself. While this meant that many of the people in group 3 and even some in group 2 would have nothing at all, this simulation demonstrated a valuable lesson on food distribution. Fittingly, malnutrition was one of the key topics we addressed that day. Rachel and Ivan spoke to us about life in Rwanda, and how it is not uncommon for someone to have only one meal in two to four days.

Collaborating with students from schools all over Vancouver Island, we shared our thoughts on malnutrition and discussed what could be done to make food more available to people in the developing world. The day ended on an uplifting note with some words of inspiration from Ivan and a song performed by Rachel. The pair encouraged us to walk away from this conference empowered to make a difference in the world.

So what are we going to do? Returning back to school, those of us who attended the conference and others interested in World Vision, will work together to bring what we have learned back to the school community through a variety of initiatives.

This spring, we plan to hold a 30-hour famine to raise funds for food and nutrition programs.

And the Junior School is hosting a photo exhibit in conjunction with World Vision. “Campaign for Children – A Photography Exhibit” will showcase work from young photographers around the world and in Victoria at SMUS – Junior School on Tuesday, March 1 from 10 am – 12:30 pm.

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