Thursday, July 5, 2012

World Cafe with Youth

Fifth in a series of posts about Justice GA and the June UUA Board Meeting

Energetic, noisy, slightly chaotic -- the third annual "World Cafe" with Youth Caucus and the UUA Board did not run out of pizza.

A cross between small group discussions and speed dating, World Cafes are a great way to get a lot of meaningful discussion in a short amount of time.  The discussion questions this year were focused on social justice - here is a sampling of some of the responses from about 75 Youth who participated:

Tell us about social justice activities back in your congregation
    Often it is projects “for the kids and youth” and not for whole congregation. 
   They are youth-led or very small, not cohesive
   Most consistently, they involve only the youth and children
   We learned about other religions before anything significant was taught about UU. 

What's happening for you here?
   Am making adult connections, as opposed to youth cons that are wonderful but all youth
   Seeing other ministers and types of worship
   Workshops and learning is fueling our flames and equipping us by learning about resources and how to use them
   Deepened spiritually
   Can do things that affect more than my own congregation
   For Bridgers, to know there are other congregations broadens their perspectives, but also gives them hope that wherever they go there might be another UU congregation 
   My church hasn’t spent any time teaching about national decision making, so I felt a little confused.    
   I've heard UUs talk about love and acceptance, and this is the first time I've felt any action.

How can we, the UUA Board,  stay in conversation with our Youth to accomplish and understand the deeper purpose of this GA?
   Come to cons!  Come where they are.
   Make learning available and accessible to them, encourage congregations to watch and participate in GA streaming
   Youth are separate from their congregations during services so not sure how to connect with adults
   Was not a priority in system at any level to get them funded to GA.   (Most of these fund raised for a year to be able to attend in PHX)

This year had a twist -- the last 5 minutes of each of three "rounds" turned the tables, and had Youth asking trustees any question they wanted to ask:

How did I get to serve on the board?
How can they get involved beyond their own congregations?
What opportunities do we have for them?
What service projects like UUSC trips?
How did you get to be a UU?  If you had to choose between being Unitarian or Universalist, which would you choose?

And these are from just a few of the groups (there were about 25 in two sessions)!

A personal note:  this is the first year I did not lead the World Cafe, but instead turned both sessions over to Caleb Raible-Clark, Youth Trustee, and Abhimanyu Janamanchi, Youth Observer.  They did not do it exactly as I would have -- they did it better. 

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