Editor’s Note: The following post is from Mary Mortenson. The school year at Carmen Pampa University starts this week. Please keep Mary and Nate in your prayers as they begin another semester of guiding young scholars. 

Recently Nate and I had the opportunity to accompany a group of 8 Pastoral students (a Catholic Young-adult group) to a national conference in Vinto, Cochabamba, Bolivia.  There we met up at a retreat center with around 50 other Catholic young adults that were coming from all parts of the country.

The intention of the conference was to come together from our different, yet shared, experiences to discuss how we can better serve our communities back at home.

Throughout our time there, topics varied: “what today’s young adults want”; “what does authentic faith look like?”; “how can we learn from our fellow evangelicals while not participating in their ‘mud-slinging’?”; “what does God want from me, personally?”; “how do we create welcoming and inclusive communities?”; and “what does it mean to serve others?”

So some really big and important questions were being discussed and Nate and I got the privilege to be a part of those conversations.  We were touched by people’s openness to others and to new ideas. Everyone in my group was coming from a variety of backgrounds, yet gained a lot from listening to one another’s insights.

Watching our students participate in something new like this was fun.  They really easily took on leadership, and were not afraid to go in front of everyone and teach fun songs and games to the group.  They also had a unity that a lot of the other groups didn’t because we were the only students that were coming from a dorm campus. (Almost all university students in Bolivia continue to live at home while they attend school).

Presentations with students.

Presentations with students

We also won first place at the talent show, when they proudly performed their traditional dances.

Students performing traditional dance.

Students performing traditional dance

We all ended the weekend with the “conference high” where we all felt optimistic about what this new year on campus had in store.  We shared and wrote down ideas for events we want to have throughout this semester and voted on new leadership within the group.  I’m excited and hopeful that we can use this energy to really create a welcoming, quiet and reflective space for students on campus.