BYU Education Week may seem to cater to an adult audience — an audience well established in profession, family or retirement in order to accommodate the multi-day conference. However, hundreds of youth ages 14 through 18 attend and spend 12-hour days on campus right before starting their own school years.
BYU always provides plentiful options for youth coming to Education Week, and 2019 was no exception. Offerings ranged from faith-promoting classes during the day to youth activities, dances and variety shows in the evenings, with plenty of time and settings for new friendships to develop.
Take, for example, three young men making the 11-hour car ride from Canada to Provo, Utah, to attend Education Week. The family of 14-year-old Levi Stone had attended previously, but this was the first year he was old enough to attend, and so he and his father invited two other young men from their hometown of Stirling, Alberta, to join them.
Hudson Stasiuk and Kaden Seely, both 15, accepted the invitation in hopes of having fun, building their testimonies and meeting new people.
Levi said he was excited to hear from the instructors who were all so excited about the gospel and how it relates to the youth. While he really looked forward to and enjoyed well-known speakers, he found that almost every class he attended was impactful.
“They taught us backstories of the scriptures which was interesting,” he said. “They are passionate and fun to listen to.”
Hudson said he was excited to come to education week based on what he had heard from friends who attended EFY in earlier weeks, but what impacted him the most was listening to Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the August 20 devotional.
“I liked that an apostle came and talked to everyone,” Hudson said. “I felt like he was talking to the youth more than the adults. His invitation to read the scriptures 10 minutes a day was straight to us.”
Husdon said what happened to him at Education Week was building his testimony and preparing him for his future.
The social setting the youth encounter also proved to be an important part of their growth. As a few of the instructors humorously pointed out, Education Week is a great place for young people to learn to flirt.
Joking aside, a teen’s social experience can be a critical factor in one’s overall health and spiritual experience, as was taught in several classes that week.
“It’s fun because you can go to all of these different classes and you will meet people you would not have without coming here,” Kaden said.
Olivia Malouf is one of these people that many wouldn’t have met had they not come to Education Week.
When her mom told her about Education Week, the 15-year-old young woman from Waikoloa, Hawaii said it sounded like a great combination of things she loves — friends, education, the Book of Mormon and fun activities.
“I have great friends in Hawaii and there are a few other young women in my ward,” she said, “but to be around so many that share my beliefs and standards is especially encouraging.”
Beyond the social reinforcement, much of what Olivia learned validated and opened new insights on what she already believed about the Book of Mormon and other topics.
“Modesty isn’t just how you dress,” she said. “It’s your behavior, how you act and how you are towards God. Dressing modestly shows respect to the Lord, which is really cool.”
Explaining how Education Week is similar to EFY, Olivia said she liked that she had the freedom to choose the classes and activities she attended. She also appreciated that the instructors also were generally free from scripts and notecards.
“Sometimes the class topic was one thing, but then they ended up talking about something completely different,” Olivia said. “They were inspired to move in different directions. That becomes a really interesting class because they are following the Spirit and talking about something you need to hear.”
Dressing modestly shows respect to the Lord.
Another young woman from Orem, Utah, also appreciated that the speakers followed the Spirit during their classes.
Fourteen-year-old Emily Adams came with her mother, Elise Adams, to see what Education Week was all about and to feel the Spirit.
“They are captivating,” Emily said. “The speakers are really funny and I can relate to their stories. Brother Scott Anderson made everyone laugh and that made it really enjoyable. And then he would get suddenly serious and everybody was like, ‘Okay, he means business.’”
Scott L. Anderson has been an instructor at Education Week for 40 years and loves the faith of youth.
“The youth at Education Week come especially hungry, prepared and spiritually receptive,” Anderson said. “Because of that, the teaching setting is dynamic and can make a difference in their lives. I watch them, day after day, come up and say, ‘This is the principle I learned. I’m very grateful for what I’m experiencing. I’m excited about how I’m going to apply this.’”
Emily is one of the many grateful youth who learned principles and made plans to apply what they learned at Education Week.
“Not everybody knows they are a child of God,” Emily said. “I realized I’m a princess in heaven. I don’t have to strive to be better than anybody here on earth because I’m equal in God’s eyes. I will definitely study my scriptures more often and reflect on my notes I took here.”
Emily’s mother said she has been diligent in teaching her daughter and other younger children from the scriptures, but she wanted to supplement that with the youth classes at Education Week.
“I want her to get this dose of spirituality,” Elise Adams said of her daughter. “I want her to feel the way people feel after general conference. I want her to say, ‘I love the gospel. I can feel my testimony growing. This is good. I want to be better.’”
After their experience, Adams plans on having her other children go to Education Week when they are old enough to attend. She said there isn’t a better way for her children to spend their last week of summer. If school were to start a week early, she would do what she could to have her children go to Education Week instead of school.
“I am so deeply grateful that someone else is teaching it and that she is listening and seeking it,” Adams said. “Seeing the testimony I know she has — the testimony she sometimes might doubt she has — starting to grow is one of the coolest things ever.”