The University of Santo Tomas was host to the Opening Sessions of the 2019 Asia Interfaith Youth Peace Camp on November 27, 2019 at the Benavides Auditorium. With the theme “Fostering Shared Well-being: Empowering Asia-Pacific Youth Towards Common Actions,” the Youth Camp had 80 youth leaders representing various religions from 21 different countries.
The Interfaith Youth Camp is an annual gathering of the Religions for Peace Asia & the Pacific Interfaith Youth Network (RfP-APIYN) to empower youth leaders to take common actions to address the various issues and challenges that affect the youth. The Youth Camp also aims to help participants appreciate religious diversity and develop acceptance and collaboration.
The plenary speakers during the Opening Sessions in UST included UST alumnus and Youth for Mental Health Coalition Chairperson Dr. Raymond John Naguit, and Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Academic Fellow Amiel Jay Lopez. A special session on the Youth as Advocates of Peace involved conversationalists such as Yusuke Saito (Member of RfP International Youth Committee), Gasun Han (Co-Moderator of the RfP APIYN), Rabbi Rachel Rosenbluth (RfP Israel), and Shameer Rishad (RfP India).
Delegates also participated in various workshops facilitated by international resource speakers during the duration of the Youth Camp which was held from November 26 to 30, 2019. The workshops comprised of Religious Literacy by Harvard alumnus Christopher Zefting who served as Program Officer for Network Development & Coordination of RfP International. Radia Bakkouch, president of the French youth organization Coexister conducted a workshop on Living in Diversity. Renz Christian Argao, a faculty member of UST and chair of the RfP International Youth Committee, facilitated a workshop on Diversity and Well-being.
This was the second time that UST played host to the Youth Peace Camp; the first was in 2016. UST has also hosted various interfaith gatherings such as the 2007 Assembly of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace and the meeting of Pope Francis with interreligious leaders during his Papal Visit in 2015.
The Youth Camp was jointly organized by the RfP APIYN and RfP Philippines, with the support of the Seoul Peace Education Center and the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace, and in partnership with the University of Santo Tomas.
Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition that advances shared well-being through promoting positive peace, preventing, and transforming conflict, working for just and humane societies, advancing sustainable and integral human development, and protecting the earth.