In a virtual gathering, Scholas and World ORT brought together the participants of the IV World Youth Encounter held in Mexico City in 2019.
Starting at the Vatican City, then moving to Israel, Argentina and Mexico, this year, the youths met in the cyberspace.
As they started to log in, small frames could be recognized on the screen. Greetings were uttered in different languages and smiles were multiplied as even more faces appeared. On October 31, 2019, the youths had seen each other for the last time in Mexico City. Many of them kept in touch, but it was the first time that the entire group met again.
Once again invited by Scholas and World ORT, 115 students from 26 countries around the globe gathered at this Virtual World Youth Encounter. ¶From different countries, such as South Africa, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Bulgaria and Israel, the youths opened their homes to meet again.
After sharing a few moments to remember anecdotes and stories of what was—undoubtedly—a very special week for everyone in Mexico, they assembled in small groups. Just like they had done in the World Youth Encounter in Mexico, they worked divided into the schools of art, play, and thought. From there on, they shared their experiences and feelings about how they were weathering this crisis.
Likewise, they began to think together about the challenges that will ensue: «to reinvent and re-create ourselves,» the youths said.
Once the work in groups was completed, the students representing each of the schools shared their insights:
Tzvi, Tzvi, from CIM ORT México, read a poem:
“Darkness is the endless ego of the wise by the light that is needed in the void.
It is the endless row of trees that keep the light from that void under their trunks.
Where the birds whisper the words of men, who remain to protect the pain. That pain that turns into emotion or the scab of our wound.
You can decide to face it head-on, or your walls will stop your fury, for what you appreciate most.
The darkness behind the walls of your consciousness, through which only your scabs come and go, is the essence of our soul.”
Later, he added: «There will always be a lack in the absence and there will always be something left over.»
Jorge Valero, from Florida (USA), shared the insights gained at the
School of Art: “We were talking about the places from where we could draw inspiration: in the family or in the little things in life; and about what we were doing to develop art in this closed space. We also discussed whether art imitates life or if it’s the life that imitates art.”
At the same time, Gamaliel, from Mexico, added: “In this time of crisis, art allows us to express, meet, be inspired. We, as artists, seek others to do the same: that other people may find our art, that they may get inspired, and that they may likewise find a way to express themselves.”
Jhorfan, from Colombia, then referred to the game: «We can undertake the challenges posed today by the world through play […] Games are a tool that takes us to another state of mind and helps us grow a little more each time.» The youths were carefully heard by José María del Corral, Scholas’ world director and co-founder, and Darío Werthein, chairman of World ORT’s board of directors.
By the closing of the event, José María del Corral addressed the young people: “I believe that being reborn, re-creating ourselves, reinventing ourselves through playfulness is the culture of encounter. Even if we should meet through a screen, this is the time to remain in our homes and meet in a different way. I do not believe in coincidences. When we were in Mexico, the Pope showed up and spoke to us. And the Pope told us something that I have been remembering a lot these past few days.”
Then, he invited the youths to remember the words expressed by Pope Francis at the closing of the IV World Youth Encounter in Mexico:
“You know what? The question for death is the question for life, and keeping the question for death open is, perhaps, the greatest human responsibility in order to keep the question for life open,” Pope Francis explained in the message.
Likewise, Darío Werthein offered his reflections: «This is the moment for young people, who have to invest their resistance, their intelligence; they even have to re-invent us adults […] They have to endure and reveal themselves […] in the sense of building, of helping those in need, of generating new things like these spaces for communication that we have around the world. You are going to […] take the world to the future, and you are going to drag us who are older into that new world. […] Count on us to help you; but the way forward is yours, it is in your hands… Grow up quickly, don’t be afraid, and move forward.»
Minutes before the end of the encounter, the youths expressed their joy for having met again.
These were some of the phrases expressed by the youths: “It was like being transported back to the encounter”; “It doesn’t matter if we live in different continents; as long as we don’t change, it feels the same way”; “It was like living everything all over again”; “We revisited what we had experienced months ago.”
Lastly, they all bid their farewells remembering Mexico and singing in choir the song “Cielito Lindo”.