Bangkok (AsiaNews) The fourth Asian Youth Day (AYD) is starting tomorrow in Hong Kong based on the theme: "Youth: hope of Asian families". Two Thai youth, one Catholic and the other Buddhist, have shared their experiences and expectations with AsiaNews.
Sirikanya Kulawanichnun, who runs the Catholic Youth Commission's Public Relations Committee, said: "I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend all four AYD events organized so far. The first was held in Thailand in 1999 in Hua Hin district. These events brought me into contact with new friends who I am still in contact with. In 2001, in Taipei, the theme of the second AYD was how youth can be a light for others. We tackled the problem of daily difficulties we meet to live according to the teachings of Jesus. It was important to get to know many youth and to learn to live together and to share capabilities."
She continued: "In Bangalore in India, in 2003, I understood that there is the need to pay attention to ways of improving ourselves. For this fourth WYD, I have the task to describe, to friends of other countries, the Thai culture and our family values. To explain this, I chose the Songkran Festival that falls from 13 to 15 April, the feast for the Thai New Year. 14 April is the "day for the elderly", and our culture treats elderly people with great respect. There is a ceremony and water is poured on the hands of an elderly person, to ask for his blessing on his children. It is the most beautiful feast of the year, not least because everyone goes back to their birthplace to be together. So elderly people see their children and grandchildren, and vice versa."
Kulawanichnun added: "After the AYD, I will take this experience to the youth I will meet during the Thailand Mission Congress that will be held on 11 and 12 August to prepare for the Asian Mission Congress in Chiengmai from 19 to 22 October. There is the need to help youth understand that they are important and can contribute to building a peaceful society that is not dominated by materialism and consumerism, which distance one from God."
Thanachart Tresaksirsakul, a Buddhist youth who is the chairman of the Youth Catholic in School (YCS) said: "At the AYD, I will talk about the Thai family, about problems faced by those who must leave their families and go to Bangkok to find work."
The young student of the Assumption Thonburi School, run by St Gabriel's Congregation, said: "My family is Buddhist, my parents take me and my sister to the temple every weekend. On special occasions like birthdays and religious feasts, we offer food to the monks. When I was elected chairman of the YCS, my father immediately warned me: 'Be careful, they want to convert you to Catholicism'. I want to become Catholic and I would like to study catechism at school. I think that this would help me to live a better life in every way."