Friday, February 22, 2019

Personal insights and better sibling relationships: two young Australians found some unexpected life changes at the Asia-Pacific Youth Conference (APYC) in Genting Highlands, Malaysia, in December 2018.

Suzie Bol, in her 20s, is a project officer at the Centre for Multicultural Youth in Melbourne. In an interview after the conference, she said:

‘I’ve had a tough life, coming from a refugee background. I came to Australia when I was 10 years old. We had some struggles. My brother committed suicide, and later a sister died in a car accident. I was raised by my grandma. It was so hard for me to understand how my mother could leave her child.

‘I first heard about Initiatives of Change (IofC) through David Vincent [community engagement officer at IofC Australia], but it wasn’t until my cousin Wilma invited me to a Creators of Peace Circle that I began to get involved.  I took part in a Life Matters workshop, and then I wanted to learn more.

‘Going to APYC was a huge experience. One of the things that really influenced me was a workshop on non-violent communication. I have had some damaged relationships in my life, and the workshop showed me that I was in “victim” mode. It showed me how I too have hurt people. After the workshop I called my sister whom I haven’t spoken with in a year. I’m working to mature that relationship.  With my mother, I realized I was forcing it, for her to talk to me about what really happened….I found a whole new world at APYC.’

Leela Gray, 17, is in Year 12 at school. Reflecting on her APYC experience, she wrote:

‘I thought this would be a few icebreakers, a couple presentations, teambuilding exercises and that would be it, right? Wrong. It was the hardest and greatest week of my seventeen years.

‘One of the biggest things I took away from the conference was the power of forgiveness. During the workshop on ‘being a peace creator’, I learned that forgiveness isn’t about repairing the loss, the loss remains and forgiveness cannot embrace that loss.

‘I wrote a letter and sent it to my brother telling him that I forgave him and apologized for the space I had created for so long…This feeling was so liberating. Understanding that I am the co-creator of my relationships was pivotal. If I can participate in the breakdown of a relationship then I can participate in the rebuilding of it too.

‘Since participating in APYC, my daily routine has changed. Now when I wake up I have quiet time and don’t look at my phone until I need to contact someone. This quiet time has brought clarity to my character, a better quality outlook to the day ahead, and gratefulness….I realized that vulnerability is courageous and admirable and have since begun being open and honest about my own personal struggles. Letting go of ego has brought about more authentic conversations. It is liberating.’ – Delia Paul

APYC 2019 Malaysia 
Photo credit: IofC Malaysia

  • The Asia-Pacific Youth Conferences take place every year, hosted each time by a different Initiatives of Change chapter in the region. For information about participating in APYC, contact