A Reflection on the Quaker Youth Leadership Conference by Vani Hanamirian ’22
Seven Upper School students attended the Quaker Youth Leadership Conference (QYLC) from January 30 to February 1. Vani Hanamirian ’22 shared her thoughts on the experience:
I recently attended the Quaker Youth Leadership Conference at George School. The theme this year was spirit-led activism. Bailey Butterworth (‘20) described it perfectly when she said, “Each time I go (to QYLC) I gain something new and make so many great discoveries about myself and others.” During this conference, we had daily Meeting for Worship and it gave us time each day to settle and make connections with the friends we had made. We visited multiple meeting houses in Philadelphia and learned about the Quaker history of each location we visited.
The most important part of the conference was the friends we made. Although most of the days were spent with lessons and Meetings, we also were able to meet over 120 kids from 21 different Quaker schools on the East Coast. They gave us time to figure out how each school lives out their Quaker beliefs. We found out that some schools use more of the Quaker process and some schools use less of the Quaker process in their teachings. Each school attended Meeting for Worship weekly and everyone at the conference can say that the MFW at QYLC was different. [Chester Reagan Chair of Quaker/Religious Studies] Ms. McCourt said: “The air in the George School was different than regular air.” This could be explained by the fact that each person in that room wanted to be there and wanted to share the air with each other. It was a very meaningful experience and all the attendees gained new friends along with new knowledge about new topics.
On the second day, we attended a presentation by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). There were then other workshops related to spirit-led activism. I attended a workshop on How to Talk to the Media. I gained information about how AFSC has participated in different global events and how we can raise awareness for issues that are important to us. On the final day, I attended a student-led workshop on microaggressions in the classroom. This workshop took the Quaker values we were taught and showed us how to incorporate them into helping others feel safe in the classroom. Overall QYLC taught me many lessons, but the most important lesson was the sense of the Quaker community, and how we can start change within our schools.