By Dawit Ghebremedhin,
YPFDJ is a unique youth movement, a youth movement that is growing at a rapid rate. It is at such a rapid rate that the world is starting to take notice and that’s when you know you’re starting something big.
Where did I get this information that even the U.S. government is starting to take notice of YPFDJ you may ask? I got it from a presentation by Simon Tesfariam at this year’s conference in which he briefly discussed about how the YPFDJ is growing at such a rate that it is starting to get noticed. In one of the Wikileaks documents sent from Asmara, the American Ambassador admitted that:
“While many diaspora youth see themselves as American, British, German, Australian, and so forth, they also done an ‘ultra Eritrean’ persona when necessary. Diaspora youth are very protective of Eritrea and, while they are only in Eritrea for a few weeks at a time, will vehemently defend the country against criticism. As this is the case, it is diaspora youth that are the best hope for outreach efforts geared towards promoting dialogue on Eritrean politics and society.”
This is being noticed alright.
The 10th annual YPFDJ conference happened about a week ago spanning from the 28th of August to the 1st of September; the actual conference days were the 29th, 30th, and 31st, of August. Let me tell you that this conference was unbelievable. There was a variety of performances and presentations that just baffled me. Saying this conference was amazing is an understatement. The conference shows how pivotal the Eritrean youth can be and how instrumental they can be. It really makes me proud to be an Eritrean youth. In fact, it also motivates me to be a more active Eritrean because I definitely have not done my part in what has been such a powerful youth.
The conference managed to bring together many people from diverse backgrounds. There were Eritrean youth and Eritreans from all over the USA and Canada along with some from Europe. Now this may not seem as an enticing aspect of the conference, but it truly is. As a participant it was one of the beneficial aspects of the conference. The experience of meeting so many new people was a blessing. To be able to feel like you belong to such a beautiful group of people. It was definitely a worthwhile experience.
Another great aspect of this year’s conference was the presentations. The variety of presentations at this conference were astounding and informing; I came out with much more knowledge than I went in. The fact that we had multiple presenters who were not Eritrean was also great. I commend the conference organizers for arranging such diverse and intriguing presenters. I can tell you that as a non-Eritrean doing a presentation on Eritrea gives a different perspective than if an Eritrean would do one. I loved Glen Ford’s presentation on AFRICOM and how Eritrea was one of the two countries fighting against this ill-fated syndication to bring Africa down. He was such a great asset to what was already a great conference. I also liked the diversity of the presenters who were Eritreans like Aaron Tsegai who is a member of the U.S. army.
Samuel “wedi Senafe” was also another great inspirational speaker who talked about holding your identity and culture close to your heart. He had one great quotation that really stuck out for me: “don’t let this culture take your soul” referring to the demonizing American culture. Let me tell you that the YPFDJ has definitely not let this culture take its soul.
This leads me to my next point, which is that our culture was vibrant throughout the conference. There were so many great cultural performances by lots of Hidri Groups from different chapters. It showed that as youth, we are in touch with our culture as Eritreans and we are taking pride of ourselves by holding our identity close to our heart. This is something that inspired me to be more involved with my culture and my identity.
The final point I wanted to point about this conference was the youth themselves. Many of them were so active and ready to be a part of this conference. They have inspired me to do the same.
Yes, there were some flaws at this conference. Some chapters weren’t as proactive as other chapters were, and some of them seemed to lack dedicated members or leaders. These types of problems are natural with such a movement that has a high standard. In this regard the YPFDJ movement is similar to Eritrea. It is rising fast as a movement just like Eritrea is and we are bound to have some flaws just like Eritrea does, but we will continue to persevere just like Eritrea has.
The 2014 YPFDJ & PFDJ II Conference – North America (Part 1)
The 2014 YPFDJ & PFDJ II Conference – North America (Part 2)