In the early morning of April 20th the farm was buzzing with teens practicing their speeches, setting up for the big day and making sure the last touches were in place. The Interfaith Experience was a completely youth-led event from start to finish that brought diverse perspectives together and gave youth opportunities to teach about tolerance. This inaugural "Duveneck Forum" provided the community with a space to come together for a collaborative discussion on non-violent communication, empathy and common ground between faiths.
Twenty youth representing a myriad of faiths came together in early January to begin discussion of an event that would invite youth and adults of different religions to come, share, and educate about their faith. For three months the youth were involved with every aspect of creating the forum from recruiting new teen leaders, scheduling the logistics of the day, to designing and publicizing the event itself. After months of dedication and commitment the teens were ready for their debut; As the leadership council, they guided the 90 participants of this new community through a day of informative discussions and workshops.
The day began with an opening circle where David Duveneck, grandson of Hidden Villa's founders, spoke about the values that were instilled by his grandparents and the legacy of social justice here at Hidden Villa. This insightful moment tied together the mission of Hidden Villa and the intention behind the inaugural "Duveneck Forum." The day featured the teens, giving them the opportunity to speak about their faith, facilitate discussion with the community, and co-lead workshops that used art, nature, meditation, and dance as teaching tools to continue dialogue.
This Duveneck Forum provided an opportunity to empower and foster growth in future leaders. Every one of these teens exemplified leadership and through intentional mentorship were able to develop a forum that was both informative and fun. They will now have this as an experience to build their resume for college and future job viability.
It is this unique synthesis of college preparedness and professional development that was the ultimate success for Hidden Villa's Youth Development Program. Giving youth the opportunity to plan and coordinate an event is a strategic way of empowering youth as resources for their own growth. When youth buy-in to their own education and have opportunities to formulate parts of it in line with their interests, the end result is a catalyst that sparks growth. This is the legacy that the Duveneck’s believed in and worked so hard to provide: a safe place for the community to come together and learn through experience. It is this type of experiential learning and on-going mentorship that the Youth Development program uses to foster caring and compassionate leaders prepared to be successful, contributing members in their communities and in the world around them.
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Los Altos Hills,
Los Altos Hills,