Young U.S. Cuban students have helped organize a conference to discuss the future of youth in Cuba. (Photo/Courtesy Roots of Hope)

Students, Cuban dissidents gather in NYC to brainstorm a path for Cuban youth

A group of young students and members of the grassroots organization Roots of Hope have organized a conference with Cuban dissidents in New York City as a way to promote social progress between Cubans in the U.S. and abroad.

The tenth annual leadership conference – which continues into Sunday – featured activists and dissidents including hip-hop artist Doble Filo, blogger Orlando Luis Pardo, and Rosa Maria Payá. Economic reform, civic engagement and the use of technology in promoting social causes were discussed through panels, workshops and forums held at New York University.

RELATED: Cuban dissident blogger, Yoani Sanchez, speaks out in New York

The conference coincides with Cuba’s new travel policy, which has allows Cuban activists to travel internationally. For Pardo, who recently spoke at an event with Yoani Sanchez at Columbia University, visiting the U.S. for the first time and speaking to youth at events such as at the Roots of Hope conference is an opportunity to share his hope for a renewed Cuba.

“The conference will serve to give a voice to the youthful Cuban generation who have hope in the nascent, fragile, but real voice for a new Cuban future,” said Pardo. “Roots of Hope is helping us forge together a more inclusive future that upholds and respects the rights of all peoples inside and outside of the Island.”

More than 4,000 Cuban college students and young professionals are affiliated with Roots of Hope nationwide and the non-profit regularly organizes events to further its goal of “empowering youth in Cuba to become the authors of their own future through connection, technology and exchange.”

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