Youth Surging Forward
Creating Regional Harmony
This account of the second Central East Regional Group (CERG) regional conference comes from CERG Con senior co-dean Lilly Kahris. –Ed.
I have found that car rides are a good time for thinking. I have been to 10+ youth conferences; many have which required a long drive. Usually I listen to music, or chat casually with the other people in the car, but yesterday’s drive was different. I spent my four hours reflecting on the past weekend, the second CERG Youth Conference.
This was a milestone in my youth career. I have been a conference dean before, but there was something really special about working with youth and adults from other districts to make this come together. Despite all of the cultural differences between each district, I think ultimately the event was successful, one that facilitated learning and personal growth for all.
The programming we planned was a conglomerate of traditions. We made sure to include the dance for SLD (St. Lawrence District – Ed.) youth, just as we included an “All-Con” game that was familiar to MNY (Metro New York District – Ed.) and JPD (Joseph Priestley District – Ed.) youth. The workshops we planned proved to be a great success. We offered three workshops, broken down into two 1.5-hour sessions on a variety of topics. David Glasgow presented his “Empowering the Word” and “The Soul of the Song” workshops. Jess Halperin along with Eliza Steffen led a workshop on reproductive justice. Rounding off the exciting workshops, Eva Beal and Claire Galpern led an Anti-Oppression, Anti-Racism workshop. Other highlights of the weekend included “People of Queer” and “People of Color” meetings, as well as an advisor workshop, where advisors from the different districts could get together and discuss advisor culture in their various districts.
I found one of the most fulfilling parts of the whole con to be the Sunday morning worship service we did in partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County. This was a multigenerational service where the youth and adults worked together to present a service about how as a region; we really are “better together.”
Overall, many lessons were learned this weekend. We learned that regionalization is a process, and will take time. Even though we worked out many kinks at the first CERG youth event last year, there were still many cultural differences. This was a fantastic learning experience, and gives me hope about youth regionalization movements in the future!