The Fifth Annual Kurdish Youth Festival
The Kurdish Youth Festival is an annual event that brings together a diverse network of students, young professionals, and charity and community organizations that generate and share ideas, learn from one another, and create lasting connections for the betterment of their communities and goals.
The three-day festival features a wide variety of programs that includes the showcasing of various talents in film and the arts, scholarship opportunities, city tours, and informed panel discussions that include scholars, academics, professionals, NGO leaders, artists, and other notable individuals from across the world.
The annual event has become the single-most highly anticipated event in the United States for the Kurdish-American community. Each year, thousands have attended the event and many fly in from different parts of the United States and even across the globe in order to be a part of the unique experience.
The aim is to provide an educational experience to young students and professionals in attendance to motivate and assist the Kurdish community and create a lasting common ground and relationship between the Kurdish and other American communities in the United States. The festival empowers young individuals in their communities by creating a common platform where they can share ideas and collaborate to achieve their goals and dreams.
The event is now in its fifth year, and the 2014 festival intends to once again bring together excellent speakers and visionaries, as well as an exhibition of resources that includes everything from art to professional and educational materials for the benefit of attendees. The 2014 Kurdish Youth Festival took place just north of Miami in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the AAA Four-Diamond Bonaventure Resort and Spa from January 3rd to 5th.
Film Competition: The festival exhibited films in order to contribute towards the development of Kurdish cinema with a primary focus on short films. Short films were critiqued by award-winning filmmakers for their aesthetics, stories, and specific styles of production and young filmmakers are given the opportunity to network with other individuals in the filming industry.
Talent Showcase: An annual “Kurds Got Talent” event was organized to allow young individuals to display a wide range of talents that include but are not limited to poetry and arts, stand-up comedy, musical performances, and plays. The winner of the competition was awarded with academic scholarships and other prizes, including expense-paid trips to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Panel Discussions: Scholars, academics, professionals, community and NGO leaders, and political dignitaries are invited every year to speak on various topics and hold open discussions with young attendees. A range of topics were covered including political issues, health and societal issues, cultural topics, and professional and career discussions. The event allows individuals to not only engage in discussions but also network with a variety of notable individuals from various backgrounds and professions.
Artwork Auction: This platform allows artists to showcase their work in a manner that is highly social and provides them exposure within the wider community. Paintings and other pieces are represented and spoken about and then auctioned off to interested buyers.
City Tour: Each year, the event takes place in a different city in the United States. In addition to having local public officials speak to the youth about their respective districts, the festival provides young attendees with an organized tour of the city’s top attractions.
Live Musical Performance: Well-known Kurdish musicians from all over the world and from a variety of musical genres are invited every year to perform for attendees. Food was provided and dancing was encouraged for attendees to enjoy the festivities.
Essay Competition: The festival aims to promote education as well as provide some financial assistance to students. Attendees were given the opportunity to participate in essay competitions that allowed them to share their thoughts on topics that address social and political issues. The winners of the annual competitions are awarded with scholarship prizes.
Other Features: The festival provides a number of unique features throughout the three-day event each year including dance and history workshops, fun games in which attendees can participate, and unique and formal opportunities for students and professionals to exchange information.
The Kurdish Youth Festival is not affiliated with any political party, organization, personality, or group. The Kurdish Youth Festival is a non-partisan and not-for-profit group and has a committee comprised of young student and professional volunteers from a variety of backgrounds.
By: Meer Rashid