Organized by Scholas Occurrentes and blessed by Pope Francis, more than 120 students from 60 cities around the globe gathered at the First World Youth Cyber Meeting on Coronavirus, to face this worldwide challenge together
Little by little they began to log in. Small frames, some more pixelated than others, revealed early morning eyes—in Mexico, where the sun was just coming up—or night owls—from Japan—. A mosaic of young faces flooded the screen. Through the headphones, greetings and cries of happiness could be heard in the midst of chaos and fear: “Ciao!,” “Hi!,” “¡Hola!,” “Kon’nichiwa!,” “Bonjour!,” “Alo,” “Olá!” Thus, the First World Youth Cyber Meeting on Coronavirus was launched to talk and share everything that is happening to them and their families.
In the center of this unprecedented situation experienced by hundreds of countries due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the conviction that the “culture of the encounter” is more necessary than ever, young people from 60 cities, such as Miami, Maputo, Santo Domingo, Rome, Madrid, Port-au-Prince, Lisbon, Asunción del Paraguay, Barranquilla, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Mexico City, Barcelona, Setagaya-ku, Porto, La Plata, Naples, Tampa, Vigo, Panama, Bucharest, Cascais, Monterrey, Medellín, among many others, gathered to generate a space for mental health and fresh air.
Young Americans participated from Miami (FL), Miami Beach (FL), Ashburn (Georgia), Homestead (FL), and Tampa (FL); they were able to listen to the reality that their peers are living in other parts of the world, and share their feelings, not without fear and confusion, but with a powerful call for empathy and solidarity.
“We have to stay home to prevent and take care of ourselves. Even though the virus has not fully arrived here, we must protect ourselves. It seems that people are not aware of what is happening because some still want to go out, but this is because they do not know that this virus is serious,” said Celestino, from Mozambique.
“Here people have created the term‘ Coronacation ’, like‘ corona vacation ’, holidays by this virus. In Florida there are many people who do not take it seriously, they are closing beaches so people don’t go out ”, Marina, from Florida.
Just like this one, several of the testimonials shared during the meeting called for responsibility, without ignoring the circumstances of other contexts and realities.
Dominique, from Haiti, stated: “We are worried here because, if the countries that are better prepared to weather this type of crisis are suffering, imagine us in Haiti; we are not ready here, (therefore) if you have the opportunity to help someone, do it. This is the time to show solidarity.”
Demonstrations of empathy and solidarity soon appeared: “The time has come to reclaim the culture of the encounter that Scholas stands for,” said Sergio, from Spain.
“I always see a silver lining in everything, and that is that we are communicating; we have not lost the communication network, and that is the most important thing. Although we are experiencing a moment of crisis, we are still standing; not as friends or acquaintances, but as the great family that Scholas is,” were the words of Brayan, from Panama. “We can continue to work for the common good.”
“Scholas is a breath of air in all this, it is the many pieces of heart scattered all over the world, it is special. Thank you for continuing to make me live emotions that I can never put into words”, said Sonia, from Palermo (Italy).
The closing activity of this first world virtual encounter was about sharing words and ideas around which permanent dialogue and conversation could continue to be generated. There was a storm of words, such as ‘fraternity,’ ‘sacrifice,’ ‘courage,’ ‘solidarity,’ ‘family,’ ‘fragility,’ ‘empathy,’ ‘uncertainty,’ ‘confusion,’ ‘communication.’ However, two words were incessantly repeated and breathed: ‘hope’ and ‘encounter.’
By the end of the encounter, when none of the youths were ready to log off, José María del Corral, co-founder of the Scholas world network, along with Enrique Palmeyro and Pope Francis, told them: “Today you have created the best vaccine and named it ‘hope'”.