“It was heartening to see the return of this forum for discussion of our issues, and I look forward to seeing it grow… There is a lot of untapped intellectual potential in our organization, and I hope that Merih and other forums for discussion can help us realize that potential.”
I was very fortunate to attend the 8th Annual YPFDJ Conference. Held this year in Ontario, it was my first time in Canada in nearly ten years. I was excited for the opportunity to meet so many new Eritreans, as well as to participate in the conference itself.
After a fourteen-hour bus ride, we finally arrived on the campus of McGill University. We arrived in the morning, so there was little time to sit and enjoy breakfast before the conference activities began. The day opened with the raising of the flags: the Eritrean national flag, the Canadian flag, and the flag of the EPLF. It was amazing to see us all standing in unity as we sang the anthems of our nation, Canada, and “Wudbna” the anthem of the EPLF. We concluded this beautiful display of unity and strength with ziq’ri sem’atat, raising our fists in salute to our martyrs.
We moved back inside for introductory remarks from members of the Toronto conference team, and Zemhret Yohannes. In addition to their remarks, a representative from the NA Media team announced the reintroduction of Merih, our official YPFDJ newsletter. It was heartening to see the return of this forum for discussion of our issues, and I look forward to seeing it grow. What was exciting to see was the number of conference attendees, especially the newcomers, reading through it voraciously. There is a lot of untapped intellectual potential in our organization, and I hope that Merih and other forums for discussion can help us realize that potential.
After an in-depth national report from Dawit Haile, we broke for lunch. When we reconvened, we ran through chapter presentations for the rest of the afternoon. One of the best presentations came from the Boston chapter, which included an inspirational video of various moments of the Boston chapter in Eritrea that tugged at the emotions of everyone in the crowd.
The conference was filled with many incredible moments, but one of the most substantive moments for me was the training session on Sunday morning. These sessions were broken up to separately serve newcomers, messegagerti, and the various NA committees. One of the largest was the joint session held by the networking, media, and hidri committees. The session had great turnout and left the attendees with a deep resolve to get involved. The session opened with an icebreaker that encouraged the attendees to learn a little more about one another. Each committee then presented their work and their goals for the year. The sessions for me were the most memorable moments of conference because they epitomized to me the substance of our movement. In these sessions, we organized our new attendees and passed on knowledge to a new generation. We set forth plans for the year, and received the commitment of attendees to volunteer their time in the future for our cause. As attendees transition back into work and school, we will begin to see this commitment turn into real work at the chapter level. It is the energy and passion of youth both new and old that will continue to drive our movement. I am confident that this conference will inspire many more successful years to come.