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Religious Youth Service

UPF-Bangladesh Holds RYS Project Near Bay of Bengal

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh—UPF-Bangladesh held its first-ever Religious Youth Service (RYS) project in Cox’s Bazar, a town and fishing port located on the Bay of Bengal, from October 22 to 26, 2016. A total 39 youth – 27 from Bangladesh and 12 from Nepal – participated in the five-day program, entitled, “Religious Dignity and Peace-Building by Young People.”

For the past three decades, delegations of Bangladeshi youth have participated in RYS projects outside of Bangladesh. But their strong desire to hold an RYS project locally finally materialized.

The opening ceremony was held in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Dr. Chung Sik Yong, chair of UPF-Asia, gave the keynote remarks, and Mr. Masatate Kajikuri, executive secretary of UPF-Asia, gave the special remarks. Dr. Yong spoke about the history, activities and the vision of RYS. He also encouraged the participants to take an active role as a global youth ambassadors for peace.

Dr. Yong explained that RYS “aims to stimulate interreligious and intercultural cooperation and understanding,” and added, “we bring together young adults, representing their religions and nations in service to others, with the goal of building a culture of peace and lasting friendships.”

Following the launching of the project, the participants traveled 12 hours by bus to the worksite. 

Educational Program

As part of the education component, a series of presentations on UPF’s Principles of Peace, including on the importance of pure love and the need for spiritual values and leadership development, were given. The education component helped the participants understand the role of youth in peace-building, the importance of personal and social responsibility and the qualities to be a true leader in their society.

Group Activities

During the education program, the participants were divided into the five groups to discuss, interact and brainstorm, as well as to share their experiences and vision.

Interfaith Experience: Visit to Religious Sites

As part of the interfaith dimension of the project to promote peace and harmony among religions, the participants visited a Buddhist temple and Muslim mosque. While visiting these religious sites, they had the opportunity to speak directly with Buddhist and Muslim leaders.

Interaction with School Children

Also during the project, the RYS participants visited the Sonapara Higher Secondary School, where they interacted with more than 100 school students on RYS’s Pure Love program. In addition, RYS organized a quiz competition for the students. The RYS team gave prizes to the 10 students who won the competition and gave a token of appreciation to the headmaster of the school.

Service Activities

The community service project involved cleaning an area around a mosque and the National Martyr Monument.

Building Friendship Through Friendly Games

All the participants enjoyed a football game at Inani Beach. Throughout the five-day program they developed lifelong friendships, learned about the different cultures of Nepal and Bangladesh and developed an open-mindedness that will last a lifetime.

The project concluded with the awarding of certificates to the participants. 


Reflections from the participants: 

“RYS’s service and learning activities, held in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, [allowed the participants to build their] personal leadership and peacemaking skills…We got [the] chance to exchange our views…culture and religious beliefs. RYS service and teachings will enlighten the world.”

Mr. Forkan Ahsan 

“We had a chance to know the principles of different religions. Thus, I believe religious harmony will be created through this. Cultural programs, seminars, community service [and] sightseeing opportunities were included in [the] program schedule, too. We learned many things from our experiences, and about different cultures. If RYS continues these types of projects, then the globe will certainly be a peaceful place.”

Emran Azad 


“RYS is a one-off concept that bridges the common beliefs and fundamental principles of all religions and this convergent essence is strengthened through community-based service. I was fortunate to be a part of this noble expedition in Cox’s Bazaar, which helped me to [develop my] leadership. All the sessions, where we got to refresh our minds…[and learn about] family values, true love and effective leadership qualities, which are pivotal to peace, were extremely worthwhile. The interactive session with the school children was an eye-opening experience for them... Visiting the temple gave us a fragrance of sanctity. And, we all enjoyed our time together [until] the very [end of the program], at one of the longest [natural] sea beaches in the world.”

Mahmudul Hasan

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