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First National Conference of GEX in Timor-Leste

By Mr. Alberto Piedade

Dili, Timor Leste, 14 January 2018 -- GEX (Don Bosco Young Alumni) Timor-Leste has recently nominated three responsible members namely: Mario Martinho, Americo Valentim and Antonio Salles and with the support of the Councilor of GEX-EAO, Alberto Piedade, the Timor-Leste National Federation of Don Bosco Past Pupils and Association of Past Pupils of Don Bosco in Dili, organized the first ever National Conference of GEX in Dili, on Saturday, 13 & Sunday, 14 January 2018, which was participated by 150 young past pupils from School and Organization that have Don Bosco past pupils across Timor-Leste.

The main objective of this conference was to raise the awareness of our young past pupils of the impact social media offers to the development of characteristics and mental health of youth nowadays. The approach GEX used is to help young past pupils to under impact of social media from4 different point of views: 'how church perceives social media, psychology’s view on advantages and disadvantages, academic description of technology development and percentages of growth of social media, and the economic benefits if social media used to start up and grow a business'. In the two half-days conference, the young past pupils were challenged to think together and reflect on their behaviors and approaches towards utilization of social media. Questions were given to them as guidance to help them reflect on the actual impact social media has on youth social and interpersonal skill.

There were 5 speakers who are Salesians and some past pupils of Don Bosco: Fr. Bento Barros, Pr. (who is a now a Diocesan priest), Mr. Roberto Sousa (an academic graduated from Swinburne University, Australia – a Salesian Family), Fr. Mário Sousa, SDB (who is also a Pastoral Juvenil and Media Communication Social expert), Mr. Joaquim Pires (a past pupil of Don Bosco, a former Jesuit Brother and a Psychology graduate from India) and Dr. Azevedo Marçal, PhD (a former Salesian who is now an advisor for Macroeconomic in the Ministry of Planning and Finance Timor-Leste). The conference was also participated by the President of National Federation, Mr. Agostinho Gonçalves, SDB Delegate to the Don Bosco past pupils in Timor-Leste, Fr. Mario do Rosario, SDB, President of Dili DB Past Pupil Association, Mr. Alex Gusmão and SDB Delegate for the Pastoral Juvenil, Fr. João da Costa Boavida, SDB together with the EAO Councilor of GEX, Alberto Piedade.

The first day was closed with prayer and a good night message from the Provincial of ITM, Fr. Apolinario Neto, SDB to encourage the young past pupils to be the agent of change, to follow Don Bosco’s teaching and become the Salt of the earth and the Light of the World. Provincial also invited all the GEX to participate in welcoming the Rector Major who is visiting Timor-Leste on 31 January until 5 February 2018.

Taking the opportunity also Councilor GEX-EAO explained about the 3 main programs of GEX: 1) School of Leaders, 2) Youth Exchange Program and 3) Youth Volunteering Projects and together with GEX National decided that National Conference of Youth will take place 2-3 times a year with rotation of municpalities to invite more young past pupils across the country to be involved. Also, the GEX Timor-Leste Facebook Group and Page were launched.

The overall impression of young past pupils of the first National Conference was excited and happy and they are looking forward to the next conference in April 2018 in Baucau with the topic: “Finding Our True Call: What do I need to do in order to discover my true calling?”.

This First National Congress closed with Past Pupils Prayers and Promises in Tetum.

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