It’s amazing how our life can be enriched when living next to someone who’s so different


SMU2013 Francia2During the United World Week, around sixty young students and young professionals spent the weekend, from 27th to 28th April, at Arny, the Mariapolis Centre near Paris. The theme was: “Is the other person and his-her differences a brake or a springboard to leap forward?”
These youth belonged to different areas of France. There were Christians, Muslims and those with non-religious convictions. They shared their differences they were enriched with the experience that “loving together is possible!”


“I met some very nice young people: so open!” said Alexis, who was visibly pleased with his first meeting with the Focolare Movement. “From the first evening, while setting up the tents, there was a lot of participation. I was a little bit scared because I did not feel very competent, however, together we made it!” said Clarisse. Another person said: “It was easy to build relationships: we did not experience any barriers between us. We felt very free to express ourselves as we truly are without sensing the least judgement.”

Many of the people who participated were present at last September’s Genfest in Budapest. It was really touching to watch the videos and photos of this international event which is still so alive in each person’s soul and day-to-day life. Anne-Laure’s reaction: “While watching the Genfest video, I was hit by a boomerang of joy as I recalled the commitments I made in my heart before God during this event.”

During these two days, we reached to point of sharing with one another that even though our differences are an asset, daily life is not so easy. Therefore, how can we overcome fears and create the conditions to carry out a genuine dialogue that brings about brotherhood? After a reflection in small groups, the young people were able to draw out 10 good practices based on their experiences.

“A united world united begins with me” – was the very first point. If we want the world to change then we have to decide to take the first step.”
“We need good practices and not theories” – underlined Alexandre, a new comer – “This is what you have witnessed to me from the very first moment I reached here.”
The French young people gathered in Arny wanted to conclude the weekend with a flash-mob that represented the construction of a bridge, thus sealing their commitment. All in all, 150 people participated – they were young and old, all together in the same spot.

Céline confided how the weekend had brought about a great change in her: “I came here rather empty and weary because life isn’t so simple anymore. However, your good humour drew me into a smile.”


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