Sponsor John Braman (who has been involved in film and youth media through YMP, the Santa Fe Public Schools and United World College) submitted Gallegos and Smithback's work to the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions. As a result, the girls were invited to the council's annual conference in Melbourne, Australia as youth media representatives. The conference is to be held Dec. 3-9, and Gallegos and Smithback will be there with bells on.
"The gist of the conference is that these are world leaders and youth [gathered together] who are dealing with the larger issues, with the environment, with indigenous communities and rights and survival," Goldberg tells SFR. "[They will talk about] how we can make these bridges through interfaith communication. Anyone who would be coming to this is really open. It's a way to open the conversation so people can see what they can do in their own communities."
In addition to trying pretty darn hard to score an interview with the Dalai Lama, Smithback and Gallegos will each focus on a particular subject throughout the conference. Smithback's coverage will focus on water issues; Melbourne is dealing with extensive drought, so discussions on the topic should be particularly ripe. Gallegos, who is working on a degree in elementary education at Central New Mexico Community College, will be looking at ways that world issues are communicated and taught in schools. The conference has a large youth component—one entire day of the conference is devoted entirely to youth participants—so it would sem that the CPWR has its priorities straight when it comes to communicating with the future.
Goldberg couldn't be happier with YMP's successes. "This year we have grown from being regional," Goldberg says, "and then we went national, and now we're international. All in one year!"