The Words of the Gehring Family

Sharing the Religious Youth Service Vision in Asia

John Gehring
May 17, 2010
Religious Youth Service

Bangkok, Thailand - On May 17, the turmoil of a political conflict was spilling into violence in one section of Bangkok. In another section of the city, where the UPF headquarters is located, an international meeting of UPF's National Directors from 16 nations in South and South-East Asia was taking place. At that planning and strategy meeting the UPF invited me as International Director of Religious Youth Service to make a presentation about our service-learning activities to the assembled leaders.

The visual highlight of the my presentation was a seven-minute video of the recent RYS project in the Chachoengsao Province of Thailand. The video was put together by an RYS volunteer and a staff member, and it captured the vitality and energy of the volunteers who had gathered from ten nations as representatives of five religions. I encouraged cooperation within the region in support of regional projects as well as the development of strategies to deepen grassroots support for service learning within local communities. Connecting Religious Youth Service to institutions that are serving the community, especially those that are educational or religious, is part of a longer-term strategy in building up the effectiveness of the RYS.

The presentation highlighted the benefit from the support of a broad coalitions of partners from the government, the NGO sector, and the religious community in efforts to create a program that promotes personal transformation while offering meaningful service to communities in need. The South and South-East Asian Region have hosted nearly 100 projects since the Religious Youth Service began in 1986.

Additional informal meetings focused on plans to have programs in India, Nepal, Malaysia, and Indonesia. 

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