Friday, July 18, 2014

A Quaker Post for Friday

Part of being granted scholarship money to attend a Quaker conference requires writing up a synopsis. This summary will be presented at Meeting with a Concern for Business, which is the means by which we conduct formal business.

YAFCON 2014 Synopsis

From June 6 to June 11, 2014, approximately 45 Young Adults convened for YAFCON 2014 at Pendle Hill. The focus of the conference was Leadership and the Testimony of Community. Past conferences have highlighted other Quaker Testimonies, as will next year’s YAF con. 

Each day’s scheduled activities included intensive workshops. It should be noted, however, that participation was not one-sided. Group participation was integral to every program, to prevent them from becoming dry, dull lectures. In addition to a variety of Friends who hailed from all across the United States, speakers and participants also came from as far away as Rwanda and Kenya.

Most attendees had specifically Quaker jobs. For example, many worked for AFSC, FCNL, and Quaker Voluntary Service. Their employer provided them the time and the money to attend. Many attenders had known each other for years, through their Yearly Meeting and now their occupation. However, they were no less warm and accepting of newcomers. Regrettably, several Friends were unable to stay for the entire conference due to work demands. 

YAFCON 2014, though enjoyable, was a serious, intense affair. Participants were told that taking part in every activity was likely impossible and that practicing self-care was important. Many found themselves thoroughly drained halfway through each day’s activity, needing to take naps to rest and decompress. Each structured activity lasted for two hours and two sessions were scheduled each day, one in the morning and a second in the evening.

But in the meantime, there was plenty of time for fun. The second full day concluded with a campfire, s’mores, and singing. For those who had energy left, each day, a silly community building activity was scheduled shortly before dinner. While on the topic, dinner offered a variety of food options for all diets. The food was uniformly excellent. The first day we ate Indian food from a local restaurant, but the rest was prepared by the kitchen staff.  

By the end, many had made fast friends with each other. An Excel document was circulated among us, providing contact information of each of us, encouraging us to continue the connections we had made during the week. The atmosphere was pleasant and we learned quite a lot, both about the topics covered in workshops and ourselves.   

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