My name is Olivia, I am 16 years old and I am currently in year 11 at Newman College in Perth.
Before ACYF, I felt somewhat uncomfortable admitting that I was a Catholic. I was an altar server; I knew all the songs and sayings of the mass by heart, and I prayed every night before bed. However, in the eyes of my peers it was not ‘cool’ to be a Catholic.
On the first day of ACYF, I was totally out of my comfort zone. I had no idea what to expect, but I took a leap of faith and went with an open mind. I was instantly overwhelmed by the enthusiastic energy of 6,000 young people from all over Australia from all walks of life. Total strangers welcomed me as an old friend, I met so many inspiring people who made me feel proud to be a part of the Catholic community.
One of the most memorable moments for me was hearing from Grace Forest and what she had to say about Modern Slavery in our world today. Her words were truly moving, and I went home that day determined to make a difference. I started by doing some research into the supply chains of the brands I buy, and ever since then I have thought twice before purchasing something.
I am nowhere near perfect, but I hope that the little things I do, wherever possible, will make a difference. I was inspired by Grace Forest to write a speech on modern slavery for a school assignment. ACYF helped me ignite my passion for social justice and also helped me to step out of my comfort zone and meet new people. The experience encouraged me to reflect on who I was and who I wanted to be.
In the future, I would love to work with some of the organisations that were present at ACYF who do some amazing things in the name of social justice. I want to continue to meet people who inspire me to be a better person. I have so many memories from such a short space of time, and I hope to continue to remember my ACYF experience throughout my life.