Genfest 2012 was really a gift for me. Several youths from my place in Davao were able to participate in that event because of the hard work among us youths and with the help of the whole community of the Focolare in Davao. We wouldn’t have been able to attend the Genfest if not for the mutual love among us all. I can still remember the many fund-raising activities, among which was a fun run. We had to overcome many challenges that time because of some unforeseen circumstances and some misunderstanding. In the end, we were able to resolve the problem by talking it over calmly.

Genfest 2012

The Genfest in Budapest was full of exciting and thrilling moments. Our tag line that time was “Let’s bridge” which is really applicable wherever we went. I am constantly reminded of this, specially at work. At work we have many differences among different groups or factions. It was really difficult to become a neutralizer who promotes the idea of unity. That’s why I always remember our ideal from Chiara Lubich.

"From “Let’s Bridge” To “Beyond All Borders”
“From “Let’s Bridge” To “Beyond All Borders”

An unforgettable moment was when we had the chance to perform with the international performing arts group, Gen Rosso. I was assigned to the dance workshop and had a chance to perform in front of different people fr

om all walks of life. For me, the entire experience was absolutely unforgettable. Despite the fact that we encountered difficulties such as language barriers, still we were able to offer a spectacular performance! Another thrilling moment was the chance to meet new friends.

I met one from Brazil, whose name is Luisa. Almost 6 years have passed since then and I met her again in the recent Genfest 2018. How I wish I can also attend Genfest 2024 so I will see her again in her home country. It’s really amazing to have this opportunity to encounter other people of different faiths, and different cultures.

Genfest 2018

This time for Genfest 2018, which was entitled BEYOND ALL BORDERS, I made another beautiful experience. This time, the experience was a lot deeper than the one I made in 2012, maybe because this time I have a different and more mature perspective on life. Like at the last Genfest, I also attended a pre-Genfest workshop.

"From “Let’s Bridge” To “Beyond All Borders”"From “Let’s Bridge” To “Beyond All Borders”

I joined the singing group this time, and we presented our song at the international night. As a teacher, I was struck by the way the Gen Verde musical group taught us.

We encountered the same challenge, i.e., the language barrier, but amazingly because of their patience and love for us, we had a relaxing and learning-while-having-fun environment. I had to make an examination of conscience. I realized that I need to be more patient with my students and I should not be easily irritated with them if they don’t learn our lesson immediately, the way Gen Verde and Gen Rosso showed us patience.

I told myself that if only all teachers were like them, the learning process would be much more effective.

"From “Let’s Bridge” To “Beyond All Borders”
Shanelle with Maria Voce, the President of the Focolare Movement

Both of my workshops with the Gen Rosso and the Gen Verde musical bands were really an amazing experience. I got to appreciate the performing arts even more and I have opened up my heart to performing not only for myself, but above all for God. Beyond all these performances, I was able to overcome my personal borders, first regarding our mentors by listening and giving them undivided attention, by not always checking on my phone, but just living the present moment fully.

I also had an opportunity to love my group mates by helping in many concrete ways. During our performance, I felt an instant and deep connection with Jesus who dreamt “that all may be one,” and with Chiara Lubich who was passionate in working to fulfil this dream of Christ. I felt this deep and genuine joy seeing with my own eyes that indeed, the combination of hard work and teamwork can really make this dream a reality.

Shannelle Paracha

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