Zooming in on the young. Once again this year United World Week will be launched from the Focolare’s little town of Loppiano, Italy. Events will include a global network of projects marked by the spirit of brotherhood among peoples from a variety of cultures. This event has been held for over twenty years by the young members of the Focolare Movement who wish to bear witness not only to their peers, but also to public institutions that the dream of a united world has not been crushed by war or underneath the weight of social injustice – especially if the new generations who have been formed in a culture of peace are the ones taking the reins of society in their own hands.
On May 1st, the Italian Focolare town will host one of the many “national” events in advance of the Genfest that will be held this year in Manila, Philippines (“Beyond all Borders, July 2018), and assemble 3 thousand young people from all over the world. It will be a festival to talk about the most difficult border to overcome when reaching out to others: oneself. “Beyond Me” will tell the stories of people who have wanted to bring about a change, beginning with themselves, stepping out of their comfort zones, to open themselves to such values as solidarity and to the needs of the people around them. For many of the young people, this experience of openness deepens its roots into a personal encounter with God, which has transformed their lives and allowed them to overcome their fears. For others, it has been overcoming an illness or disability or taking notice of someone else’s need. In name of a great friendship with the community of Nomadelfia and in view of the Pope’s visit to the two towns on May 10th, there will also be a large group of young people from Nomadelfia.
United World Week, which will begin right after, will be a single event located in different places around the world. It is an international expo that is an integral part of the United World Project, which for more than twenty years – the first edition in 1995 – returns every year at this time to promote peaceful relations and exchange among peoples and cultures, especially among the poor, marginalized and lonely, but not with out the help of famous people from the worlds of culture, sport, civil society and religion. Over time, United World Week gained ground on the local, national and supranational levels of public opinion through the social and mass media, and its projects in favor of brotherhood.
The 2018 edition will focus on the topic “Generation Zero Hunger” one of 17 sustainable development objectives contained in the Agenda approved by the member States of the United Nations, to be reached by 2030. The teenagers and young people of the Focolare Movement have long been engaged in offering an important contribution to the project being brought forward by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with regard to things such as malnutrition, wasting food, respect for Nature and personal and collective projects geared towards the responsible use of the earth and its resources. Hence, the Week will be an opportunity to show the results of this collaboration and to engage other teenagers, citizens and institutions in reaching the goal.
At the conclusion, on May 6th, the Run for Unity relay race will be held with hundred and thousands of teenagers of all nationalities, religions, cultures and ethnic groups. It will cover the earth, offering a testimony of “fraternity” from East to West. At every stop along the run – on foot or on bike – the most counter-current relay that exists will be enriched with sporting events, games, acts of solidarity and whatever else can help to bear witness that the dream of a united world lives on, in spite of the tensions or signs to the contrary. Perhaps these kids will be among the main actors.