Written by Yash Saboo '18 (India/IA)
I had the privilege of attending the BUBW (Better Understanding for a Better World) in Orlando, FL this past February. BUBW is a conference which tries to achieve the purpose of a balance in the world by targeting cultural, social, economic, and political problems in a variety of ways through lively discussions and workshops. A balance in ideology and opinion while at the same time building an open mind. They were able to achieve this by enlightening us about the world today, what it could be and what it should be.
Furthermore, we learned the advantages of an interfaith conference like this one, bringing together an array of different mindsets and ideologies to help answer key questions which may have been keeping us from understanding one another. We had short discussions about obstacles to the development of a global community, and ideas of religion today which helped us get an idea what day and era we are living in. After this we had individual presentations about our countries to further our own understanding of the vast diversity that is our world.
The next day we all went to various religious centers like a synagogue, a church, and a mosque. We explored what all the religions preached and believed. This helped us give insight on the attributes of cultures and faiths and their own translation of God. At the end of the long day we had a panel discussion with religious heads of all the centers we visited to help conclude how similar our beliefs are despite our different religions.
On the third and the last day of the conference, was our banquet session in which there were some beautiful presentations of music, dances, stories, and poems. After the banquet, we organized a panel discussion with students representing various regions of the world to answer four main questions of interest like why these types of conferences are important, how to improve these conferences, how to destroy cultural stereotypes, and how to better educate people around the world in cultural tolerance. This discussion showed us yet again, we are one entity and gave us a final understanding of the focus of this conference and whether we achieved it or not.
I was given the highest privilege to give the ending remarks, that followed the panel discussion. I conveyed to everyone the need of BUBW’s in the world, the power of education, and gave thanks to all the staff members and participants. I was very delighted to have gotten a standing ovation after my speech which has become one of the most cherished memories I have.
After my speech, we all were given a Certificate of Appreciation by the President of the organization; honorable Imam Mohammad Bashar Arafat. We were honored to hear his wise words for us students and his vision of a better world ahead. Ending the conference, we took photos, bid our goodbyes and left in hopes of meeting again one day.
One thing I know we all enjoyed, was the recreational activity they organized for all the students. When we hear “Florida” the first thing that flashes in the mind is Disney! Every day, after our long meetings, the staff members were awesome enough to have planned 4-5 hours to spend in one of the theme parks of Disney. This fulfilled a lot of our childhood wishes and also helped us to stay on track.
This Conference has given me so many good memories. It helped me make a lot of new friends and learn a lot of things that I never knew. I now know how similar major religions around the world are. I learned more than I thought possible in such a short time about current world affairs and how much these types of conferences are needed. I left the conference with a promise that this was just a start to something better; a better understanding for a better world.
I would like to thank World Link for giving me such a prestigious opportunity to have attended this conference. I hope to pay you back with my work and my renewed zeal. I would also like to thank Civilizations Exchange & Cooperation Foundation (CECF), the organizers of this conference for teaching me so much in such a short amount of time.