Arts Academy

The Bahá’í Arts Academy ’09 was not only the highlight of my summer, but also one of the very best weeks of my life. It began on the evening of August 1st with a dinner, followed by an opening presentation and announcements. The mood was set with a beautiful devotional, and then we were left to socialise for the remainder of the evening.

I have always found that the friendship groups made with fellow Bahá’í youth are extremely strong ones, aided by the amazing atmosphere that is created by spending a week with a large group of several hundred people who share your views and ideals. Everyone can become your close friend very easily. One is not constantly surrounded by unnecessarily ineloquent and continuously unseemly conversation; one rarely finds oneself engaged in wholly trivial banter; rambunctious behaviour is voluntarily restricted to an absolute minimum. One doesn’t feel inhibited about, for example, requesting that people refrain from backbiting (though it is rare for such unsavoury talk to even arise anyway). As a result, close friendships that hardly falter are easily established, and the company with whom I spent the week of the Arts Academy was one that created a wonderful sense of joy and happiness to be with. At the end of it all, parting with the all the friends from the Arts Academy was deeply saddening.

Every morning, there would be what was called a “Morning Focus”, in which the entire Arts Academy assembled after breakfast for a devotional (which never failed to be beautifully prepared) followed by the necessary announcements that were made to ensure the smooth running of the Arts Academy. Everyone would then move on to their chosen course.

The course I was on was one aimed at older junior youth and younger youth, entitled “Agents of Change in a Challenging World”, which was run by Thenna Abbas and Tessa Roche-Saunders from Wales. Though the vast majority of other courses at the Arts Academy were focused around developing skills in a single chosen form of art, this one was unusual in that throughout the course of the week various different arts were covered. I thoroughly enjoyed contributing my point of view in the deep and meaningful group discussions that took place (including, at one point, a formally conducted debate!). We even began to develop the skills required to animate a junior y
There was also an evening programme every night, and I very much enjoyed performing in the Open Mic Nights whenever possible!

Above all, the brilliant atmosphere created by the Arts Academy served to renew my spiritual energy. It created in me a spirit of service; it left me uplifted; it helped me to gain the willingness to teach the Faith. And, of course, I had a fantastic time while learning in class, while attending and being in various activities, and while being with my friends. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest thanks to its organisers for making it all happen, and I would highly recommend it as an excellent experience for anyone who attends.outh group.