July 14, 2020
This past weekend, we celebrated Jain values and ideas, the beauty of diversity, and the importance of community. We would like to thank everyone who joined us on this journey of progressing with purpose. In the last 48 hours, we have taken time to internalize what YJA Day 2020 has meant to us, our fellow YJA members, as well as the broader community here and abroad. Frankly, we are still in awe at having over 1,100 people register from 36 states and 7 countries. We are humbled by the potential for profound impact from this day as we look forward to the future of this cherished organization.
Saturday’s sessions were both broad and deep. We learned about topics ranging from racial and environmental justice to using Jainism to help map our approach to 2020 and our careers. From interfaith insights to a beautiful love story paving the way for LGBTQ+ acceptance in our community, our speakers were candid and thoughtful in sharing their personal stories. Our keynote speaker Maulik Pancholy had us laughing and reflecting in turns about identity, activism, and finding our purpose. Overall, these sessions empowered each of us to put our best foot forward as changemakers. Of course, an important part of the YJA experience is the chance to make new friends: we created a virtual escape room, held a community talent showcase, and dropped an exclusive YJAWorld mixtape! Our JNF group showed us the power of giving by raising over $1,000 to donate to charity through their House Challenge. We were truly inspired by what our attendees were able to take away from this entire experience.
We want to acknowledge those who made this day of learning possible. We were able to bring YJA Day to all ages for free thanks to the support of our sponsors and donors. To the 41 members of our Convention Committee - your ingenuity, passion, and dedication allowed us to keep going against all odds, and you all have made your mark on this organization for years to come. We thank you for all of your work, and we are so proud of you.
YJA recognizes that our growth and learning cannot stop here. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that the youth of our community are resilient, compassionate, and inspired to take on the world and forge the path forward for Jainism in America. Our journey started back in 1991. Since then, we have given a platform to the youth to become agents of change and reconnect with our roots. The learnings and memories we took from YJA Day will give us the fuel to continue progressing with purpose; we hope it ignited a spark in you and look forward to seeing what each of you do with it.
We were so glad to get to spend time with all of you this past weekend, and we are impatiently waiting for the next time we can all be together again. Until then - stay safe and take care of each other.
Avish Jain, Parshva Vakharia, Simmi Nandu, and Vatsal Gandhi
2020 YJA Convention Committee Co-Chairs