Last month, a group of MMFS upper school students participated in the annual Quaker Youth Leadership Conference (QYLC), hosted virtually by Friends Select School in Philadelphia. Students attended discussion panels with Philadelphia community leaders, engaged in student-led workshops, and enjoyed social events—including a highly entertaining talent show! While the virtual conference could not capture all the magic of a normal QYLC, the format did allow students a unique opportunity to connect with international Quaker schools, including students from Canada, Palestine, and Lebanon. We recently followed up with some of the attendees to hear in their own words how they felt about attending the QYLC.
First time attendee Caroline, a 10th grader, especially enjoyed the diverse range of speakers who came to talk about racism, sexism, and other biases. “It was so interesting to see people from different backgrounds and different perspectives talk about the same issues.” Caroline is hoping to attend an in-person QYLC in the future, but still views the virtual experience as a success. “I feel like I have gained a higher capacity to lead a group of people after attending QYLC,” she says.
This was also the first year at QYLC for 11th grader Abe, who reports that it was a great experience for him. “During one of the meetings for worship, I spoke in front of everyone, and there were a lot of people. I felt good that I did that because although I was nervous, it was one of my goals.”
For 10th grader Leanne, who attended the in-person conference last year, the virtual experience offered some benefits. “There was a larger community because international schools were able to join.”
Both Leanne and Caroline feel that Quakerism is part of who they are. “I believe that Quakerism will definitely be in my life after high school. I have gone to a Quaker school since kindergarten and have gone to Quaker camp, too. Although I do not identify as a Quaker, I do feel that many of the Quaker values make sense and have a significance in my life,” shares Leanne. Caroline adds, “I think the morals and beliefs of Quakerism will always be with me.”