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When immigrants move in, how do we welcome them? Baha’i community building activities help young immigrants join local youth to work together for the betterment of their new neighborhood.
The new Baha’i documentary video series A Rich Tapestry, showcases how the Baha’i teachings are being translated into action throughout the United States, through inspiring stories from communities around the country.
The third video in the series, It’s All About Service, focuses on Lewiston, Maine, a small city with a recent heavy influx of African immigrants—who often struggle to connect with the local population upon arrival because of language and cultural barriers.
Thankfully, when the immigrants arrived, a very motivated youth group already existed in Lewiston, comprised of youth of many races and backgrounds, united by the shared vision of doing something to improve their neighborhood’s circumstances. The youth group studies spiritual concepts together, draws inspiration from the Baha’i writings, and finds ways to apply their learnings to action in their own community through service projects—all with the aim of freely helping others:
… let your manner be sympathetic. Let it be seen that you are filled with universal love. When you meet … any other stranger, speak to him as to a friend; if he seems to be lonely try to help him, give him of your willing service; if he be sad console him, if poor succour him, if oppressed rescue him, if in misery comfort him. In so doing you will manifest that not in words only, but in deed and in truth, you think of all men as your brothers.
What profit is there in agreeing that universal friendship is good, and talking of the solidarity of the human race as a grand ideal? Unless these thoughts are translated into the world of action, they are useless. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 23.
This Baha’i youth group has created a safe and friendly space where youth, whether immigrants or not, can get together to discuss their personal and collective development, both spiritual and material, and the important role their generation can play in creating a positive future for human society:
As this generation of youth assumes the responsibilities of conducting the affairs of society, it will encounter a landscape of bewildering contrast. On the one hand, the region can justly boast brilliant achievements in the intellectual, technological and economic spheres. On the other, it has failed to reduce widespread poverty or to avoid a rising sea of violence that threatens to submerge its peoples. Why—and the question needs to be asked plainly—has this society been impotent, despite its great wealth, to remove the injustices that are tearing its fiber apart? …
What is called for is a spiritual revival, as a prerequisite to the successful application of political, economic and technological instruments. But there is a need for a catalyst. Be assured that, in spite of your small numbers, you are the channels through which such a catalyst can be provided. – The Universal House of Justice, 8 January 2000.
Through interviews with the youth and footage of their service projects, “It’s all about service” shows how youth can inspire each other and become a source of positive, lasting change in a city. It offers a vision of what we could all create in our communities, through love, conversation and unified action with the people around us.
You can watch this video by clicking on the link below, and learn more about how Baha’i youth groups work together for the betterment of society, both in the United States and across the world.