World

Report

A LOOK AT WHAT MAKES US SHINE

Values
tolerance

acceptance
cour courage

no v non-violence

Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University Copyright © Brahma Kumaris, 2011 All rights reserved. Printed in New York, NY

Table of

Contents

Executive Summary ............................................................................ 4 Statement of Project........................................................................... 6 Phases of the Project .......................................................................... 8 Objectives ........................................................................................... 9 Methodology and Approach ............................................................. 10 Summary of Activities ......................................................................... 12 Partnering Organizations ................................................................... 17 Evaluation ............................................................................................ 18 Key Highlights from the Reports ....................................................... 19 Analysis of Impact ............................................................................... 36 Lessons Learned ................................................................................. 38 Recommendations: Moving Forward ................................................ 40 Appendix ............................................................................................. 41

3

Executive

Summary

In September 2010, the youth of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University developing activities for the United Nations launched a year-long project called Spotlight Values. The project called to challenge, support, and inspire youth and young adults around the world to initiate a reflective and experiential process that encouraged them to make values their living reality. Inspired by and in dedication to the United Nations International Year of Youth (IYY), the initiative began with a process designed for youth to experiment with the United Nations days of peace, non-violence, tolerance, and dignity (for human rights) over a four month period (September – December). During these four months, workshops, events, and informal café-style gatherings called “Om Express” and “Om Café” were developed that brought youth and young adults together between the ages of 13-35 in North and South America (United States, Canada, and Brazil) to undergo an exploratory process that made these values come alive within the youth. The goal was to deepen their relationship with the values; not just something to be aware of superficially but rather to take a personal reflective journey, creatively experiment, and express the value based on their experience with the value. In recognizing the importance, insight, and inspiration youths speaking with youths have on bringing about world change, the initiative positioned youth at all levels of the project: project planning, implementation, participation, and evaluation. The method developed to engage youth on the values was a three-step process called Explore, Express, and Exchange where a chosen value was focused on each month and explored through the series of these steps. This process enabled youth to come together in a safe, sociable, and inviting environment that encouraged them to be themselves and express themselves openly allowing them to reflect on a value based on his/her own personal experience. Ultimately, the process invited youth to make a commitment to themselves on how they were going to practically utilize or express the values in their day to day lives. As the initiative progressed over the initial four-month period, more youth representatives of the Brahma Kumaris demonstrated interest to hold

4

Executive

Summary

Spotlight Values events in their countries. With the conclusion of the first phase of the project honoring the United Nations days of peace, nonviolence, tolerance, and dignity, a new set of values needed to be selected for the second phase of the project set to begin in February 2011. The values were selected through an international online voting process where youth were asked, “If I woke up one day and a perfect world existed, what five values would be most prevalent in this new world?” The youth of the world chose the values of love, purity, courage, respect, and acceptance as the top choices. By the end of October 2011, Om Express, Om Café activities, events and workshops were reported to have taken place in thirty countries. These countries were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Ghana, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Russia, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, the Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, United States, and Venezuela. During this time, stories flooded the Spotlight Values blog about the success of the events in countries around the world. A youth participants experienced Spotlight As th Values, they themselves became inspired to bring their peers to future activities and in many instances, became Spotlight Values facilitators. The leadership developed through the project became more and more visible as there was a steady increase in the number of Spotlight Values activities a and events taking place each month. Most importantly, it became evident that the im project was having an immeasurable impact on pro changing the lives of youth. cha

5

Statement

of the Project

In an effort to harness the energy, imagination, and initiative of the world’s youth in overcoming the challenges facing humankind, from enhancing peace to boosting economic development, the United Nations proclaimed an International Year of Youth starting on August 12, 2010. In its resolution proclaiming the year, the General Assembly called on governments, civil society, individuals, and communities worldwide to support activities at local and international levels to mark the event. Under the theme ‘Dialogue and Mutual Understanding,’ the year aims to encourage dialogue and understanding across generations and promote the ideals of peace, respect for human rights and freedoms, and solidarity. The resolution encourages young people to dedicate themselves to fostering progress, including the attainment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to slash a host of social ills, ranging from extreme poverty and hunger to maternal and infant mortality to lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015.1 In dedication to the United Nations International Year of Youth, the youth of the Brahma Kumaris proposed this year of exploration and learning through Spotlight Values to commemorate the United Nations days and to promote the goals developed for the International Year of Youth. The intention was to inspire youth and young adults to recognize their own potential and build their inner capacity, which would lead to new kinds of actions. Using a unique systematic approach, the initiative focused on creating open dialogue and engaging youth to express and share their discoveries through multimedia and visual art forms. The aim of the project was to shine a “spotlight” on the youth’s potential to “light up the world” by inspiring them to make constructive, values-based changes in their lives thereby actively bringing positive change to their communities and societies. Through a series of process oriented activities, workshops, and events, youths were invited to come together to explore these values through open dialogue, personal reflection and multimedia streams of expressions, and to share their experiences with others from around the world through the Spotlight Values network (website, blog, and
1

Website, http://social.un.org/youthyear/index.html

6

Statement

of the Project

social media). All events held worldwide were sponsored by the organizers, often times the Brahma Kumaris, and always free of charge as a service to the youths and the community. The initiative was launched on September 1, 2010 at the School of Visual Arts Theater in New York City and first implemented in the Americas with more than fifteen organized events in the USA, South and Central America, and Canada. In January 2011, the initiative went global and more than 146 events have been organized to date worldwide. Through these events, the youth and young adults discovered that there is an inborn curiosity to understand who they are and what they have to give to this world. Using their experience and expertise, the youth of the Brahma Kumaris covering activities for the United Nations, created Spotlight Values to serve as a platform to awaken the world’s youth to their intrinsic qualities, which would have a direct impact on current social and economic conditions. Spotlight Values, hence, was a chance to invite the potential of the youth onto the world stage and to create an opportunity for everyone to explore, express, and exchange (share) values in a creative, meaningful way that resonates with the generation of today’s youths.

MAURITIUS SPOTLIGHT VALUES TEAM MEMBERS
7

Phases

of the Project

Phase 1: September – December 2010
Spotlight Values began with an invitation to today’s youth and young leaders in the Americas, between the ages of 13–35, to experiment with four values; peace in September, non-violence in October, tolerance in November, and dignity in December. Events were organized which used a unique three-step process of exploring, expressing, and exchanging (see Methodology and Approach) the respective value for the month.

Phase 2: January – June 2011
Spotlight Values crossed the ocean and went global across all cultures. For this phase, youth and young adults from around the world came together to vote on the five values that they believed had the potential to create a new story for humanity. The five values selected for exploration throughout the second phase of the project were love, purity, courage, respect, and acceptance. Continuing with the process of explore, express, and exchange, young people around the world demonstrated how these values can lead to new kinds of actions that benefit their lives and their communities.

Phase 3: August 2011 and beyond
Spotlight Values events continue to attract the attention of youth and young adults globally and the explorations continue across all continents. Youth continue to organize Spotlight Values programs and contribute on the Spotlight Values network.

CANADA

8

Objectives
The United Nations system’s approach for the International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding (August 12, 2010 –August 11, 2011) aimed to provide a concrete framework for collective efforts during the year with a focus on three key areas: • • • Create awareness (increase commitment and investment in youth) Mobilize and engage (increase youth participation and partnerships) Connect and build bridges (increase intercultural understanding among youth)

In each of these areas, collaborative partnerships with young people were deemed fundamental. The progress achieved during this year in each of these areas will lay the foundation for further work in youth development, including the implementation of the World Program of Action for Youth and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. (http://social.un.org/ youthyear/) To address these three key areas, through Spotlight Values, the Brahma Kumaris youth developed the following key objectives for the initiative: • Inner discovery: to provide a process for youth to explore, discover, and define the intrinsic values that drive their ideals, energy, and vision for themselves and the world. Positive actions: to provide an ongoing platform for youth to express, exchange, and become engaged in exploring and implementing values in their day to day decision making, leading to new kinds of action. Community: to encourage and support youth participants to develop leadership skills by connecting with other youth and youth organizations to carry out their own initiatives from their community.

9

Methodology
and Approach
Spotlight Values adopted an approach of developing activities, workshops, and events that would create the space for youth to come together to openly dialogue on a specific value. Spotlight Values recognized the importance, insight, and inspiration that youth speaking with youth have in bringing about change making it critical to the process that youth designed and facilitated each activity for their peers. The Spotlight Values team is a medley of youth ages 13-35 that have joined together on common ground “to be the change they want to see in the world.” Through their own personal journeys, they have savored the joy of coming home to something deeper and more beautiful within. They have also discovered the richness and value, in other words, “the magic” that happens when they share their journeys. By exchanging experiences with each other, the inspiration to serve the world amplifies. Therefore, the project was developed with the intention of youths encouraging each other to develop awareness of these intrinsic values, thereby creating a mechanism for accessing these values from within. This would ultimately lead to positive change in themselves and those they interact with. From September 2010 to June 2011, a new value was highlighted monthly using the three step process designed for the Spotlight Values activities – explore, express, and exchange. The explore segment served as the fundamental foundation, beginning the entire process which led participants to deep realizations about the values. This process allowed them time and space to reflect on their own perspectives and thoughts on the values through engaging and meaningful conversations that appealed to young people. The exploration segment consisted of a series of reflective questions pre-developed for each value designed to stimulate rich conversation in a casual setting. Participants would spend a specific amount of time in small groups exploring these questions. The questions guided participants to honest, open conversation on how they view the specific value based on their own experience and discover new insights on the values. The express segment of the process provided an opportunity for the participants to further reflect on the discoveries they made with their exploration in a creative manner or in an open mike setting. Youths were
10

Methodology
invited to “express” these discoveries in an artistic manner through multimedia and visual art forms. Expressions took the form of poetry, songs, artwork, dances, short stories, videos, plays, etc. and entertainment with music, song, or dance was often encouraged at the events to serve as a transition between the exploration and expression steps. The exchange segment of process was a sharing of both the exploration and expression pieces at the end of the events. Participants shared their thoughts on the process as well as their creations with each other, further inspiring new insights. They were additionally encouraged to post their expressions on the Spotlight Values blog giving visibility to the visions, artistic creations, and inventions and letting the values speak to the times. Being part of the Spotlight Values network and exchanging the youth’s pioneering insights and discoveries with others online.

INDIA

USA

11

Summary of

Activities

the values
Peace (September) Non-Violence (October) Tolerance (November) Dignity (December) Love (February) Purity (March) Courage (April) Respect (May) Acceptance (June)
During Phase 1 of the project, events and activities took place in multiple cities within the United States, Canada, and Brazil. Phase 2 of Spotlight Values spanned regions across the globe to more than twenty-seven countries. Between Phases 1 and 2, more than 146 Spotlight Values activities and events took place. Approximately 75% were Om Café and Om Express events, with approximately 5,350 youths reported to have participated.

12

Summary of

Activities

Om Café and Om Express
Recognizing the need for youth to be in a setting that was comfortable, inviting, encouraged openness, and fun, Om Café and Om Express were developed as the main form of activity for the project. All of the reporting countries held at least one Om Café or Om Express event. Om Café was a three hour café-style workshop that created a space for young adults ages 18-35 to come together to explore a series of personal questions, dialogue about their reflections, creatively demonstrate their experience on the value, and share their experiences and creative expressions. To create a social and informal atmosphere, participants often sat in small groups while drinking coffee and eating light snacks. Om Express was designed for youths ages 13-17 to go through a two to three hour casual workshop and follow similar activities to the Om Café with slightly modified reflective questions that dedicated more time to the expression segment. At the first few Om Café events, it was noted that teenagers were spending minimal time on the reflective questions and requested more time on the creative expression segments. Therefore, Om Café was modified from its original format to accommodate the interests of the teenage participants and the Om Express was created. At the conclusion of an Om Café or Om Express event, participants were asked to complete a commitment card making a promise to themselves on how they would practically use the value of that month on a daily basis. Participants were additionally encouraged to share their commitments online on the Spotlight Values blog. All materials needed to hold a Spotlight Values event have been developed and made available on the Spotlight Values website. For each value, a facilitator’s guide with reflective questions and activity ideas has been created for both the Om Café and Om Express. Facilitators simply needed to download the material to hold their own events from the website. Facilitators also had the option of creating their own reflective questions and activities but the majority of countries utilized the templates available (See the appendices

13

Summary of

Activities

for sample templates). Suggested guidelines for holding an Om Café and Om Express were also posted online as well as how to get involved and commitment cards.

www.spotlightvalues.org – The Blog
A website and blog were developed that served as the central platform to communicate with youth participants, facilitators, and the general public on the project. In addition to the templates for the Om Café and Om Express events, the site was also where participants could share their expressions by posting their creations, such as writing, video, artwork, music, etc.

Daily Action Points
The Spotlight Values blog posted a daily action point that suggested how to use the value of that month in a practical way each day. Daily action points provided new ideas on how to be creative but also make using the value very natural, interesting, and fun. Daily action points also served as a daily reminder throughout the month about the value. Daily action points were sent via email to anyone who subscribed to receive them.

Radio
During Phase 1, MGM Funding donated airtime to Spotlight Values for a radio show on WEE Radio 87.7 FM in New York called “Spotlight Values: A look at What Makes us Shine.” Hosted by youth of the Brahma Kumaris and was dedicated to the United Nations International Year of Youth, show themes centered on a practical aspect of the values as teens and young adults explored them through storytelling, interviews, featured guest speakers, and music that was relevant to the value. Another Spotlight Values radio show has been on air once a week in Rajasthan, India on Madhuban Radio. The show spotlights youths sharing about the values and interviews participants from local Spotlight Values events on their experiences. The show also aims to partner and work with local youth organizations working with the project.

14

Summary of

Activities

SPOTLIGHT VALUES RADIO SHOW IN USA

SPOTLIGHT VALUES RADIO SHOW IN INDIA

0th Spotlight Values Events and Activities 0ther S tli ht V l E
Opportunities often came up where Spotlight Values could be highlighted in a form other than an Om Café or Om Express event. For instance, community fairs across the world Spotlight Values hosted booths displaying information about the project and also engaging those walking by to participate in an expression piece of being creative and having fun. In Chiari, Italy, an Om Café workshop was held at an annual yoga fair -Chiarissima 2011 The Festival of Well-being and Vitality. The participants came from a wide range of age groups and were guided through an exploration of the value of respect. Spotlight Values took to the stage in a peace rally in the United States as well. The rally focused on the value of peace with over 100 inner-city teens. Local leaders from the community were invited to speak on the value, including a representative from the Spotlight Values community who spoke to the teens about the value of peace. The evening was concluded with a peace vigil where everyone held lit candles. A weekend retreat was held in the United States with the developmental team from Spotlight Values and a group of video game design students from the Emergent Media Center at Champlain College. They came together to brainstorm the design of a values based video game using the process of the Spotlight Values initiative and began to design and develop a video game
15

Summary of

Activities

that would be appealing to youth around the world and that also maintained the vision of Spotlight Values. A Spotlight Values phone application was designed by a team member to be used on I-phones. The application allowed the user to receive the daily “value in action points to their phone. ue action”

Many countries held workshops for Spotlight Values where the facilitators were a combination of youth and adults. The workshops focused on the value of the month, hosted a speaker/presenter that would talk about the value, and then engage the participants in a large group discussion. An example of this type of workshop was with 200 youth in a juvenile prison in Trinidad. Another example of a unique workshop setting was in Mumbai, India, where a team of Spotlight Values facilitators hosted an Om Café for employees at Perfect Relations Pvt. Ltd. This was a first of its kind for the company and it was noted to be a new experience for everyone. According to a youth employee, Rini, “Not only did we learn a lot about accepting flaws and follies in people but we also had a very good time. It was truly relaxing and I think we in our office needed something fun, creative, and ‘out of the box’.” The CEO of the company commented upon on observing his employees, “This was something new we did for our team and I’m glad they found it useful. Going forward you’ve made life easier for me by bringing them together in teams. This has been a huge motivator for them and has also given them the opportunity to get to know each other well.”
16

Partnering

Organizations

Many Spotlight Values team members and facilitators developed relationships with local community based organizations and government entities to partner on Spotlight Values. Partnerships unfolded in different ways: some partnering organizations had guest speakers at Spotlight Values event; some provided the venue for holding one; others supported by having members attend an event; and others assisted with publicizing the event. Below is a list of partnering organizations: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • UNICEF (Trinidad and Tobago) Youth Training Centre (Trinidad and Tobago) Council of Prison Chaplains and Ministers (Trinidad and Tobago) Alpha Max Junior High School (Suriname) SukhDhaam Orphanage (Suriname) All-Ukrainian Charitable Foundation “Our Home Ukraine” (Ukraine) “Rainbow”-Donetsk municipal public organization for assisting handicapped children (Ukraine) Local governments of Magdalena, Miraflores, and Brena (Peru) VirgenPeregrina del Rosario School (Peru) Colegio John F. Kennedy School (Peru) Mundo Libre Children’s Institute (Peru) PetroPeru Cultural Center (Peru) Kidsinaction – an NGO that coordinates a youth summer camp and festivals (Greece) Habitat for Humanity (USA) Pace University (USA) St. Augustine Seminary (Philippines) ASPIRA Association – a national Hispanic organization dedicated to developing education and leadership for Hispanic youth (USA) Power Stories Theater: Girlstories Theater Division (USA) Hillsborough County Public Library System (USA) State University of New York (SUNY)

17

Evaluation
To evaluate if Spotlight Values activities met the objectives, Spotlight Values facilitators submitted reports providing both quantitative and qualitative information on their activities. Through the reported information, it has been demonstrated that the objectives were not only met but far exceeded the expectations set out at the initial start of the project. Spotlight Values demonstrated through its country reports that by bringing youth together transformation can happen among them in behavior, attitude, awareness, and actions.

ITALY

USA

SPOTLIGHT VALUES AT ASPIRA ASSOCIATION IN USA

18

Key Highlights

from the Reports

Objective 1: Inner discovery: to provide a process for youth to explore, discover, and become aware of their intrinsic values.
PERSONAL STORIES Trinidad and Tobago: Youth prison inmates becoming aware of their own self-worth through exploring values to change the fate of their future The youth of the Brahma Kumaris in Trinidad and Tobago hosted a series of Spotlight Values workshops at the Youth Training Center (YTC), a juvenile prison for males of ages 16-24. Beginning in May 2011, three Spotlight Values workshops were held for approximately 200 youth at each session. The youths at the prison described their struggles in their life before prison as being filled with vengeance, anger, depression, bad spirits, drugs, gangs, and gambling. Being aware of the reasons why the youths were living at the YTC, the Spotlight Values team decided they needed to alter the values being addressed in each workshop. They facilitated sessions on respect and acceptance but also added the value of freedom as the third session. They felt freedom was a critical value to explore considering the circumstances the youths were living under. Om Café and Om Express were not formats that could be considered because the restrictions and policies of the facility limited interaction youths could have at the YTC. Even though the sessions were mandated by the prison, there were some youths who were hesitant to participate but as the sessions continued, they became more engaged and interested in participating. The Spotlight Values youth team was able to facilitate sessions that resulted in what they noted as “phenomenal expressions out of their reflections” that included artwork, rap songs, and poetry. In the session on freedom, the youths were asked, “What would you like to be free from and how will you achieve it?” Even though this question may have been viewed as being simple, it challenged the youths to look beyond their boundaries and beyond the walls of the YTC. Many struggled with the question but their responses were honest:

19

Key Highlights
“I would like to be free from jail and myself.”

from the Reports

“I would like to be free from all mental blocks in my life that may stop me from gaining my full potential.” “I want to be free from YTC because my life is changing from bad to good.” “I want to stop sin and am trying very hard.” A young man, Kadeem, in his artistic expression wrote, “I want to be free from anger” while another young man wrote, “freedom is pain” alluding to the fast-paced, tempting world outside of the YTC. Throughout the session, the youths were absorbed in the topic and for many of them the discussions made them realize they had value and that they could change and, at the ering very least, opened the door to considering there was hope for them.

YOUTH TRAINING CENTER JUVENILE PRISON IN TRINIDAD

20

Key Highlights

from the Reports

India (Mumbai): Teens believing that life can be better if respect is exchanged with one another The exploration began with two questions being posed to the group: “Do young people get respect today?”, and “Do young people give respect?” These two questions sparked what was described as a dynamic and fun conversation. When the small groups shared their discussions with the rest of the participants, they examined all the different types of people they interact with in their day to day life – parents, friends, peers, teachers, elders, maids, drivers, underprivileged people, etc. and, therefore many realized that they were not giving respect to others and therefore were not receiving respect from others. They then came to the conclusion that life can be much better if respect is exchanged with each other, especially with those they take for granted. Further, they added that respect should be given to nature, the environment, and education. Some noted that they can only give respect and not demand it be given to them. When asked to take their explorations into their expressions, many created artwork, stories, and skits. After exchanging their expressions with the group, one participant stated that the value on respect was now clearer to her than ever. Canada (Montreal): Young adults sharing with young adults to build a more conscientious way of thinking and living for themselves Om Cafés were held in Montreal on a monthly basis for each value of the project with an average of fifteen youth in attendance at each event. The Om Cafés used the process developed by Spotlight Values to facilitate dialogue with participants for the exploration part of the event. Specific questions for the respective value of the month were explored by participants in small groups of four. For the expressive component, the events used one form of artistic expression with the participants including drawing, dance, writing, and poetry. A youth who was a regular attendee of the events shared that Om Cafés gave her a strong sense of self and that she benefited from the cafés and felt they would sustain her until attending the next one. Additionally, she felt that the process and format of the Om Cafés were more powerful for her own inner development and way of thinking than a regular workshop

21

Key Highlights

from the Reports

because of the easygoing, light, and youthful atmosphere created, allowing for spontaneous sharing and experiences to emerge. Another young adult shared that he was moved by the deep connection between the young people attending Om Cafés. He felt they were so caring and benevolent with one another that he immediately felt at home in the atmosphere of the Cafés. In addition, his deeply held opinions about the values Om Café changed through the conversations, allowing him to become more open and healthy in his thinking. He realized that his happiness and inner peace are dependent on his beliefs and that the exchanging of explorations and experiences has made him become a better person. He has now made a conscientious decision to keep the Om Café experience alive in his everyday life. Some of the benefits reported by the youth in Montreal as a direct result of the Spotlight Values events were: increased unity among those connected with the project in the area, the development of the qualities of maturity, leadership, and empathy within interactions, increasing feelings of camaraderie and appreciation for each other, and ‘tremendous’ growth with inner capacity and internal self-progress. Philippines (Baguio City): Youth realizing that a life filled with non-violence is a life that warms the heart of the world and melts the walls of fear In October 2010, an Om Café was held with twenty-five youths in Baguio City. The three hour program started with inspiration cards distributed to the group to set the mood for their awareness on their virtues. While having snacks, a few short film clips about peace and non-violence from the University of the Philippines, students were played as they waited for the start of the program. The program was then started by an introduction of Spotlight Values and the yearlong series of programs in celebration of the United Nation’s International Year of Youth. Hip jamming/singing was then followed with Jacky and six year old Kalylle who joyfully led the singing of “The World’s Greatest,” a song which talks
22

Key Highlights

from the Reports

about potentials and affirmations of every human soul to be what they want to be. “I am a mountain I am a tall tree. Oh, I am a swift wind Sweepin’ the country I am a river Down in the valley Oh, I am a vision And I can see clearly If anybody asks you who I am Just stand up tall look ‘em in the face and say y I’m that star up in the sky I’m that mountain peak up high Hey, I made it I’m the world’s greatest And I’m that little bit of hope When my backs against the ropes I can feel it mmm I’m the world’s greatest…” This song led to the introduction of each of the youth by choosing a figure in the song that they can associate themselves with, e.g., “I am a mountain. I am the world’s greatest!” Explorations focused on the cycle of non-violence which the group realized begins with awareness, then practice, benefit, and sustainability. This part of the program transitioned the participants to the next part of the program which was the “Art Workshop” where each participant was given time to create artwork through doodling with some music as background. According to the facilitator, “It was such a delight to see how each of them was feeling light and easy during the workshop and afterwards seeing their masterpieces - an array of colors and positive vibrations as a product of the awareness.”

23

Key Highlights

from the Reports

The facilitator asked the participants to leave the venue and enjoy the breath-taking ambiance of the workshop venue by walking around. Participants then shared their experience and artwork. As one youth stated, “[my] take home message was a life filled with nonviolence is a life that warms the heart of the world and melts the walls of fear so that each of us can live, love, dance, and thrive.” Suriname: Youths sharing with youths brings about realizations on the importance of values in their lives es s In Suriname, Spotlight Values sessions were held on a monthly basis with youth from varied ages and backgrounds. Participants enjoyed the sessions, stating that they were fun and engaging. Participants expressed the atmosphere at the events made them SURINAME feel comfortable enough to inspire them to share their thoughts with each other during the dialogue. At the conclusion of each session, youths would comment on how much they had learned that they had previously been unaware of in regards to the values. For example, “Giving and taking respect begins with having respect for themselves. Self-respect is the foundation for all other types of respect (respect for nature, respect for the world, etc.).” Many felt that the biggest impact of the Spotlight Values sessions was of the realization and awareness on the importance of the impact values have in their daily lives. United Arab Emirates: Youths discover their own strength through exploration on courage There was excitement and eagerness in the youth of UAE when they were told about the concept of Om Café. The much heard of and much awaited day finally did arrive. Om Café took place for the very first time in UAE. Participants from various Emirates of UAE – Dubai, Sharjah, and Ajman attended. As soon as the participants entered, they were invited into a beautiful ambience: the spacious seating area was beautifully designed in white, the waterfall on the side, and the sun shining through the glass of the roof – the ‘Sky Lounge’ in the mall had a view that was welcoming.
24

Key Highlights

from the Reports

The session was kick-started with an ice-breaker exercise where they were asked to associate each day of the week with a color, which was then shared with a partner. The result was that none of the answers matched another’s. It was to allow each of them to recognize how no one is right or wrong but each one is unique and special in their own way. Participants were then introduced to the value of courage and the process of explore – express – exchange under the activities that were to follow. The first was to explore the meaning of courage. Participants were divided into four groups of six to eight members to do an activity where they were to brainstorm on their views and share personal experiences by reflecting on the following questions: 1. What is the relation between pure feelings and courage? 2. Relate an incident in your life where you had to exercise courage. Where did you get the courage from? The next activity was a complete surprise for participants. A bag was passed around to each participant to pick any one object that came at hand. Once again participants were divided into groups, this time giving them a chance to mingle with different members. The activity required each group to come up with a story that had a beginning, core story, and an ending to it depicting a scenario where courage has been shown. The most interesting aspect was that the story was to include each object picked by the members of the group. It was the creative skills of the participants that came into play, where one group enacted the story and another narrated using the props with humor. Participants were able to learn from each other and it also allowed them to express themselves freely. Facilitators commented how this activity was quite entertaining and enjoyable. The session concluded with a guided reflection, inspiration card, and commitment card. The commitment card focused on a promise to use courage in a situation that normally was filled with fear. This was when participants commented that they knew they did not only attend the Om Café to learn but also take back something that would strengthen them from within.

25

Key Highlights

from the Reports

Objective 2: Positive actions: to provide an ongoing platform for youth to express, exchange, and become engaged in their discoveries of values in themselves.
PERSONAL STORIES Rwanda (Kigali): Spotlight Values providing the space for young people to express their feelings and core values In Rwanda, fifteen Spotlight Values sessions were held in the form of Om Café and Om Express. Many of the same youths attended the sessions month after month. They were not only interested in attending the sessions but also were interested in using the value throughout the month until they returned to the next session. With in-depth conversations taking place on the values, they also engaged themselves greatly in the expression segment of the sessions with poetry, songs, dances, and drawings. Many of the youths wanted to continue with the discussion on values and began requesting the sessions take place in their schools, churches, etc. A young man, Pacific, who had been participating in Spotlight Values was so deeply touched by the project because he felt that it gave everyone in the session a chance to express his/her feelings and core values. It also gave him a chance to learn about himself, the importance of values in his life, and see what he wanted to change in his life. He felt as if the discussion on values brought newness to him and he made a decision following the Spotlight Values activities to make positive changes in his habits, lifestyle, and attitude by incorporating spirituality into his life. Ukraine (Donetsk): Developing confidence to use values in youths’ daily lives A series of Om Café-style workshops were held on values for young adults in the Ukraine. Activities during the workshops included the following:

26

Key Highlights
• • • • • • • • • • • •

from the Reports

“Clue of wisdom”: discussion of quotations of famous people on the value for the month Finding a figurative/famous image for a particular value Drawing pictures of values Exchanging my good qualities with good qualities of other participants Game of changes Games on cooperation: building a tower in silence with others Discussion on finding solutions on proposed conflict situations by applying a value Understanding and giving away, “burning in a furnace” my bad habit, negative quality of the character, and “taking” a good quality instead Answering a questionnaire to explore to what extent I have a particular quality Sharing experiences on using such values in life Skits Video presentations about the value being discussed

It was noted that many of the youth, when arriving at the sessions, were quite tense. After going through the process, many of them looked cheerful and relaxed. At the conclusion of the sessions, many participants felt that the Spotlight Values process helped them have a better understanding of the value and of themselves. Valentina, a twenty-three year old, stated, “With the help of the session, I have understood that I need to be more tolerant of people.” Tatyana, another participant, stated, “With these sessions, I have acquired the experience of lightness, peacefulness, and being non-attached. I have understood myself from another side.” Anna, a student of Donetsk National University said, “I have acquired self-confidence, confidence in my powers. Now I feel I have more opportunities. I have felt the warmth of others. I have received answers to some of my questions and my self-esteem has improved.” Natasha, twenty-three, said, “I took part in the sessions and liked them very much. It has made a huge impact on me. I experienced positive emotions. I got filled with energy that inspires me a lot. The feeling

27

Key Highlights

from the Reports

of lightness and peace has entered my consciousness. The sessions gave me an opportunity to open myself up and to feel self-confidence.” Australia (Sydney): Young man discovers setting boundaries in his relationships leads to self-respect Spotlight Values sessions were held in Sydney for young adults between the ages of 18-25. The sessions were held as Om Cafés. Even though there were challenges with attendance at the sessions, those that did attend felt enthusiastic and inspired by the project. They really enjoyed the activities, depth, and clarity which came out of the explore conversations. Participants felt encouraged to continue thinking about and exploring the quality of that month. During an Om Café on respect, a discussion on the aspect of establishing boundaries in relationships emerged from the exploration on self-respect. A young man who participated shared how he was often cajoled by his stepfather into doing things out of social obligation, even if he did not want to do it or did not feel it was right. A couple of months after the Om Café on respect, the young man had gotten in touch with the Spotlight Values facilitator and said he felt empowered by the conversation to set down boundaries and speak honestly to his stepfather. He also said he found the creative writing piece he had done during the expression segment of the session, and was using it to remind himself about the quality and importance of respect in his life. United States (Edison, New Jersey and Queens, New York): Developing a deeper understanding of values prove to be helpful in dealing with people and challenging situations Monthly Om Cafés were held in New Jersey. It was reported by participants in this area that the systematic process gave them the opportunity to be engaged on reflective questions, creative on the expressions, and develop unity with each other during the exchange segments of the events. At the conclusion of the series of Om Cafés in New Jersey, a young woman shared that the Om Cafés were a unique experience for her that helped her to understand the values better, specifically, courage and acceptance. She

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Key Highlights

from the Reports

expressed that the Cafes allowed her to go deep inside herself, discovering areas in her life in which she had unknowingly already been practicing the value. This helped her to see how she can access and apply these same values with challenging people and situations in her daily life. Another young adult had said, “I feel more confident in my dealings with situations and people. It [the Om Cafés] helped me to go inside, to find out my strengths, and learn to use them for guaranteed success amidst challenges.” A youth participant in New York commented, “Spotlight Values was a profound experience which helped me in three main ways: (1) reflect on my own attitudes and beliefs, (2) empower me with practical tools to transform my own ways, and (3) become more responsive rather than reactive in dealing with situations and people. Through the exploration of values, I felt empowered to deal with situations in which I would normally have reacted negatively but instead decided to address them in a more positive, calm manner, which yielded positive results and left me with a good feeling.” Turkey (Istanbul): Having a deeper understanding on peace helps reduce aggression in university students A professor at Marmara University conducted a series of workshops and Om Cafés on peace for her students. Initially, students were hesitant to participate. Also, because the students were Turkish, French, and German speaking, there were challenges in overcoming cultural and language barriers. During the sessions, the students discussed and brainstormed on the importance of peace, world peace, and inner-peace. As the discussions continued, the students became clearer in their minds about peace. The sessions were a unique opportunity to bring together students and in the end all were very cooperative and enjoyed the sessions greatly. She even noted that many of her students who displayed aggression in the beginning of the series became calmer because of the month spent on exploring peace.

29

Key Highlights

from the Reports

United States (Los Angeles, California): Om Café helped youth develop friendships to build strength and confidence in using values Feedback from participants at the Om Café in Los Angeles was that the session helped them become more open minded. They believed that the peaceful and open space of the event encouraged introspection. In addition, it was a great opportunity to network with other youth and young adults learn and reflect on new things in a pleasant manner. One participant shared how she could focus on putting values in her day to day life. At the Om Café, she was able to meet other people of her age who also face similar issues and that experience itself helped her to develop confidence in using the values. Understanding the spiritual aspect of the value gave her the clarity and method to feel the value in herself before applying it with others. Austria (Vienna): Om Café opens up opportunity for youth to become engaged in creativity that can lead to a deeper understanding on love During the Om Café on love, participants came up with profound statements on what love really meant nt g to them. There was a great deal of discussion taking place. However, many in the session were also a bit critical about love but once they went through the Om Café, there was a deeper realization and understanding of what love meant for them. The AUSTRIA feedback from participants was that they enjoyed the Om Café-style session as there was space to have deep conversations but also to have fun together. The event opened up a new perspective that by engaging oneself creatively, by connecting with values, and having conversations about the values, it can be enriching and fun at the same time.

30

Key Highlights

from the Reports

India (Satara): Future police and army officers gain deeper understanding on how to implement non-violence into their jobs An Om Café was held for 300 students (250 males, 50 females) at the Raje Academy in India, who were committed to becoming police and army officers. The session began with an introduction to the project. There was a great deal of curiosity around Om Café because this was something very new to the students. After the students were split into small groups, they began by identifying three values they learned from their parents, teachers, and friends. This process required in-depth discussion as they were asked to then identify three values as a group. Each group had also been distributed their questions for non-violence which they began exploring. They found it relevant to explore non-violence since they would be working in an occupation in which violence plays a major role. During their exploration, they were looking at ways to discern when and when not to use violence with their jobs. During the express phase, they were asked to sing, dance, or tell a story. This was a significant moment in the session because it allowed the students to allow their inner creativity to shine through, especially because they were all entering into jobs that would be more physical and completely different from what they were doing at the Om Café.

INDIA

31

Key Highlights

from the Reports

0bjective 3: Community: to encourage and support youth participants to develop leadership skills by connecting with other youth and youth organizations to carry out their own initiatives from their community.
PERSONAL STORIES Partnerships: United States (Miami and Tampa, Florida): Inner city teens committing to changing the way they feel and act towards others through exploration of values Youth in Florida partnered with local agencies to bring Spotlight Values to the community. In Miami, Spotlight Values partnered with the local chapter of Aspira, a national agency whose mission is to foster the social advancement of the Latino community by empowering its youth through leadership development programs. During Aspira’s yearly Peace Week, over 200 teens came together in the course of two days to participate in a peace vigil and a workshop on peace. Through the partnership with Spotlight Values, the teens were given the opportunity to explore the value of peace using the explore, express, and exchange model. As a result of the Spotlight Values presentations, Aspira teens understood that peace was more than disarming themselves of weapons or absence of conflicts with others. They learned that peace is fostered internally and begins with our thoughts, which is then expressed through actions. By the end of the events, the participants, who were teens from inner city neighborhoods, linked the violence in their homes and in their neighborhoods with the quality of a person’s thoughts. Initially they did not see it that way; they thought violence was a direct result of people “disrespecting” one another, never realizing before that they held the power to change their circumstances and attitudes simply by changing their thoughts. The group’s realizations as a result of the workshop were apparent in the commitment cards the teens completed at the end, committing to changing the way they feel and act towards others. In Tampa, Spotlight Values partnered with local organization Girlstories Theater, a division of Powerstories Theater, which develops programming that aims to empower young girls and the local public library system to work with their teen population. With Girlstories, Spotlight Values held monthly

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Key Highlights

from the Reports

workshops and performances throughout the entire Spotlight Values year. With the public library, Spotlight Values events were held on a monthly basis for each value of the second phase of the initiative. The events were announced and covered on a local radio station, 1520 WXYB. The events used the process of exploring the value that Spotlight Values developed for each month and used a variety of artistic expression forms including poetry, mandalas, storytelling, and Shadow Theater. General feedback from the participants included frequent comments about being able to see the value in a deeper light and come to a new understanding of its dynamics. Girls who participated in the workshop used Shadow Theater for the express component, and shared that they discovered peace wasn’t just “for hippies” but that it could be fun. Teen girls from the Girlstories Theater events began the explorations with the idea that peace is just a state of quietness or the absence of war. However, with each event, the girls began to shift that idea to an understanding that peace is something more dynamic, that it comes when they learn to share, work together kindly, and when they take care of themselves and the world around them. Italy (Marostica): Working with educators An Om Café on respect was held for about 25 educators, and parents in the small town of Marostica in Italy. Since youth were not available to be part of the dialogue due to the start of the summer vacation, the educators strongly expressed the desire to experience the process so it could be used in their classrooms once schools re-opened. The participants were divided into smaller groups and were asked to reflect on the value based on the questions provided. One of the teachers remarked that she had come hoping to learn how to engage with younger students in more meaningful conversations. She was leaving having realized that while students may have their own ways of expressing them, conversations on values would put her on the same platform as her students so as to engage them in a dialogue rather than a one-sided lecture. As most of the participants dealt with youth on a day to day basis, a large portion of the conversation was about what behaviors and

33

Key Highlights

from the Reports

attitudes made them feel respected. The group expressed their thoughts by creating recipes for a dish of respect of their choice. Through this event, educators were inspired to bring the process of Om Express events into their classrooms and provide an on-going platform for the youth to engage in dialogue about values. United States (New York and Washington, DC): Inspiring leadership while exploring values For many youth of the Brahma Kumaris, Spotlight Values was an opportunity to step forward and be a part of a project that was new, innovative, and had the potential to make a great impact on youth around the world. One of the main premises behind Spotlight Values was that it was youth creating programs for youth. Youth of the Brahma Kumaris took the lead on developing and implementing the project, many of whom had never been part of an international project or had ever facilitated a workshop before. Many youth who had initially attended an Om Café or Om Express then became facilitators as they became more interested in the project and were enthusiastic to share their experience with other youth. For example, in Washington, DC, Dominique Khan, a young adult participated in her first Om Café in February 2010 and by March, she was a facilitator not only in Washington, DC for Spotlight Values but she also traveled to Trinidad and helped facilitate a session for youth at the prison center. Antoinette Hemlall, thirteen, from New York, had become inspired just upon hearing about the project. Spotlight Values gave her an opportunity to facilitate Om Express sessions for her peers giving her space to dive deeper into her love of music and create expressions on the values for the Spotlight Values blog and events. In addition, she became a regular host of the radio program during Phase 1. Sara Figueroa, a youth facilitator and participant commented, “Spotlight Values was such a great project. I felt it offered a great space for participants to be creative and to learn about the values and feel really empowered to share them. Having the blog and daily action points meant that there was

34

Key Highlights

from the Reports

this practical tool for elevating people’s consciousness both in personal ways but also in a group setting. To feel this atmosphere was so special especially when you realize you are talking to young people and hearing amazing spiritual reflections on the values.” Madhavi Patale, another youth facilitator and participant shared her experience; “I totally enjoyed working on this initiative. This was a yearlong beautiful journey with values. I gained a deeper understanding about what values meant in my life and experienced them practically in my day to day activities and interactions, rather than just talking about the values. I must say that it wasn’t easy to have the value constantly in my awareness or actions…initially it took a lot of focus and attention to make it a natural process. This journey for me was very enjoyable because it wasn’t just me reflecting or exploring values, it was a group effort. Every Sunday I joined the conference calls to explore the values with my peers and I think this was ther a great opportunity to connect with the other youth from around the world! Before I facilitated the process of explore, express, and exchange for the other youth in the community, I made sure that I understood the value at a deeper level and used it practically. Being a core member of this project, I spent a lot of time in planning every bit of Spotlight Values with other core members and what I realized was that there was a lot of n understanding and co-operation between the core members. There was respect, mutual understanding, and acceptance for or each other’s ideas and suggestions to help p this project move forward internationally.” ”

MALAYSIA
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Analysis of

Impact

Impact Assessment: The progress made towards achieving the United Nations objectives The Brahma Kumaris supports the United Nations Millennium Development Goals through a wide range of programs promoting education, gender equality and empowerment of women, mental, physical, and spiritual health and well-being, and environmental sustainability. With a special competence in the area of human and social values which allows the organization to bring a particularly ethical and spiritual approach to world concerns, the Brahma Kumaris regularly work with NGO committees, caucuses, specialized agencies, and government missions, and actively participate through oral and written statements at United Nations conferences and meetings. Through these activities, the organization strives to promote awareness by highlighting the significant purpose and principles of the United Nations. In doing so, they initiate international projects such as Spotlight Values to provide people from around the world with a chance to participate in activities of social and humanitarian concerns. Spotlight Values created such an opportunity for youth to engage, dialogue, and participate in activities focusing specifically on values that can be used on a daily basis while addressing the United Nations objectives for the International Year of Youth. The Brahma Kumaris, through the Spotlight Values project, has demonstrated its commitment to youth by creating understanding about the importance and necessity of incorporating values on a daily basis in one’s attitude, behavior, actions, and interactions. Using the international network of centers of the organization, the youth wing of the Brahma Kumaris organized activities and workshops around the world that supported the Spotlight Values intention to promote the objectives of the United Nations. Holding Om Café, Om Express, and other events were significant formats in which youth participation and partnerships took place. Overall, the youth of the Brahma Kumaris have been an active branch of the organization. However, through the implementation of the Spotlight Values initiative worldwide, the outreach and participation of youth in programs supported by the Brahma Kumaris increased significantly in general and brought service

36

Analysis of

Impact

projects supported by the Brahma Kumaris youth to new parts of the world that had not actively engaged youth within their communities before. Spotlight Values was designed to help connect youth with peers in their own age group. As youths shared their thoughts and experiences on the values they made connections and developed a mutual understanding that the struggles one goes through may be similar to the struggles of others. The sessions spent together, providing feedback to one another, created opportunities for youths to support each other in their discoveries about these intrinsic values that many wanted to understand and assimilate. An automatic understanding among youth was formed at the events which also provided a platform for inspiring youth to consciously incorporate values into their daily lives. Results: • Over 110 officially reported Spotlight Values events took place (and over 36 additional unofficially reported events took place) in 30 countries worldwide Over 5,350 officially reported youths served worldwide Over 20 partnerships created with community and worldwide organizations Development of new leadership skills, capacities, behaviors, and attitudes reported by youth facilitators and participants Linking of youth groups from different areas worldwide Reported increases in abilities for decision making, community organization, and capacity building through increased self-awareness and self-confidence Reported reduction in stress and self doubt

• • • • •

37

Lessons Learned
The overall feedback was that there were minimal problems or challenges within the project. However, there were a few considerations to make moving forward. Reporting on activities: There were several countries that initiated activities but that did not report on them. For this reason, data from many events could not be included in this report due to a lack of information. Also, some reports lacked exact numbers in the quantitative section and that may have been partially due to facilitators not being made aware of the reporting requirements at the start of the project. Low program numbers: Some facilitators had concerns about the low number of participants that attended some events. There were questions about whether youth as a whole were interested in the topic of values or were at a point where they were open to make a change. Some stated that youths lived a great distance from the venue where the activity was taking place, which limited attendance numbers. Additional limitation to attendance reported was timing: The project took place during the school year, preventing many students from attending activities on the weekends because of their studies and other responsibilities. Gender breakdown: Not including the events that took place in Trinidad with the youth prison and the future police and army officers in India, a greater part of participants at most events were female. A sufficient study of why more females on average participated in Spotlight Values activities has not been performed to provide additional feedback on this. Age groups: Spotlight Values had designed the project to be implemented at different events for three age groups: 13-17, 18-24, 25-35. The development team felt the attendees would feel more comfortable in the company of peers within their age range. However, most in-country initiatives grouped the two latter groups together into one workshop most of the time. This was partially due to the lack of availability of facilitators to conduct multiple activities each month and also low attendance numbers. In addition, there were some requests for Spotlight Values events for a pre-teen age group. As the project progressed, some facilitators also realized that the

38

Lessons Learned
conversations and exploration process that was successful with young adults did not work as well with the teens. The initiative then adjusted the teen activities to focus more on the exploration of the values component through artistic and creative exercises and decreased the exploratory questions and conversations. This new process is what became the Om Express (for teens) in the second phase of the initiative, distinguishing the process of exploring the values for different age groups. Getting more countries involved: Brahma Kumaris has representative branches in 110 countries around the world. Spotlight Values, according to official reports, reached a total of 30 countries. More effort to engage additional countries was needed. Some representatives of the Brahma Kumaris had shown interest in the project for their country but did not have any youth who were available to facilitate the sessions. Overcoming cultural barriers: Spotlight Values established a strategic format for the process of the initiative. Facilitators were given the option to mold the process for their specific needs. However, a facilitator from an event done in India shared that, being expressive through creative means was something new for many of their participants, especially in a country where youth are not used to being given the space for such creative practices. Facilitator training: The core team for Spotlight Values was based in the United States and Canada. When the project expanded beyond the region, each core team member took on a mentorship role with another country interested in the project. With the mentorship relationship and the Spotlight Values blog providing all the resources for an event, there was a great deal of support for facilitators. However, some facilitators still felt they needed additional training to be more effective.

39

Recommendations
Moving Forward
Throughout the next year, Spotlight Values will continue to open up to more countries. Word of mouth about the project has gradually crossed borders; so many countries have not had an opportunity to explore the full range of values, having expressed an interest to do so. The Spotlight Values website has posted Om Café and Om Express templates for all nine values and facilitators choosing to hold future events can choose what values to explore in their countries and download any necessary materials. This option will provide a free flowing and organic process since there will not be a dedicated value each month as done before. As all activity guides will continue to be accessible, the website and blog will continue to be active and will encourage more countries to participate and post their creations online. The anticipation is that the blog will continue to grow into a larger resource platform where one may find inspiring thoughts and ideas shared by peers on these values. Daily action points, which have and continue to remind us how to put the value into practice in small and simple ways, will continue to be sent out via email. After having explored all the nine values highlighted in Spotlight Values, youth are invited to pick the value of their choice which they think is more relevant to their local community and explore, express, and exchange thoughts on it. Freedom and friendship have been popular values chosen for Om Café and Om Express events after July 2011. As we move ahead, we take with us the higher understanding of these values we have developed in our conversations, linking each value to the next, building networks of values. Discussions have been taking place on the development of a Spotlight Values inspired video game. The project is currently seeking funding options to move forward with the initiative that could impact youth greatly. Radio shows are also being aired in Mount Abu, India. Radio Madhuban, 90.4FM, is periodically providing air-time to Spotlight Values facilitators in India to make a larger audience a part of this dialogue.

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Appendix
INVITATION TEMPLATE FOR YOUTH EVENT AGES 13-17

41

Appendix
GUIDELINES FOR CREATING AN OM CAFE ON THE VALUE OF TOLERANCE

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Appendix
GUIDELINES FOR CREATING AN OM CAFE ON THE VALUE OF TOLERANCE

43

Appendix
“HOW TO GET INVOLVED” DISTRIBUTION CARDS

“COMMITMENT CARDS” FOR PARTICIPANTS AT EVENTS

44

Appendix
THANK YOU LETTERS FROM PARTNERING AGENCY FOR A SPOTLIGHT VALUES EVENT HELD WITH THEIR TEENS

45

Appendix

46

To

Contact Us

For more information about Spotlight Values please visit our website and blog at www.spotlightvalues.org, or contact one of the core team members: Name: Madhavi Patale Phone (USA): (718) 701.4661 City: New York Email: spotlightvalues@bkun.org Skype ID: spotlight.values Name: Marianne Weiss Phone (USA): (305) 442.2252 City: Miami Email: marianneweiss2000@yahoo.com Skype ID: bkmarianne1 Name: Bebe Butler Phone (USA): (813) 987.2525 City: Tampa Email: bebe.dilaram@gmail.com Skype ID: bebe.butler

Spotlight otlight

Values

Dedicated to the United Nations International Year of Youth

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