What is the secret to finding happiness? In search of an answer, high school students traveled as long as nine hours to unpack the mystery of happiness and to discover exactly how much they could make an impact at home. The week-long Homemade Happiness seminar was filled with practical sessions, workshops and great meals. By the end, the group left tired but excited to start creating happiness at home. 

Homemade Happiness, held in April 2016, was the inaugural seminar held in the Southern Hemisphere of its kind. The seminar mirrored the international forum for young people: Incontro Romano. The seminar hoped to spark an interest on the importance of human dignity, the family and the work of the home. Realising the necessity of these core topics for society, sponsors contributed $xx to enable students to attend.  

"It's so important for young people to understand the inestimable value of people and to act accordingly. The more who hear this message the better", commented one anonymous sponsor. 

The 'My Kitchen Rules' challenge was a highlight for the girls. Each night one team was scheduled to prepare the meal, decorate the dining room and coordinate dinner service. Head chef and judge, Corina Assen, directed kitchen operations. After a brief Master Class, the team got straight into producing for a crowd of over 30 people. While the kitchen was a flurry of whisks and pots, the dining room was transformed into a formal restaurant. 

"Cooking for each their peers is showing the girls one way they can think of others. With their excitement, they're demonstrating a true example of joyful self-giving!" comments Corina during kitchen preparation. At 6:30 on the dot, the proud chefs were ready to serve their meal. "I wonder if mum feels this nervous before she serves dinner every night", said Milou Sopers from Hamilton.

The girls discovered that they did not need to look very far in order to find happiness. The answer was simple: Happiness comes as a result of joyful self-giving. "Having a positive impact on the world is easier than I thought," commented Maria Helbano, a student from Wellington. "It's in showing affection for my parents through small things like smiling. It's in overcoming my moodiness when I'm tired, and ultimately it's in having other people in mind instead of myself all the time. Okay, maybe it's not so easy!" The daily workshops gave a stable foundation for each girl to realise that she is a vital element in her family with an ability to make a great positive impact.

The girls were also given the opportunity to present to each other their own ideas on homemade happiness. Sixteen year old student Rebecca Baird, ran a session on "All things Meringue". A group from Auckland put together a short film on discovering the joy of self-giving and Kiara Japon from Australia presented a video on the meaning of family. 

On the final day, the girls were sad to pack up their things and go their separate ways. "It helps to know that I have friends all over the country, and even in Australia, trying to make a difference" said Therese Mettrick from the Kapiti Coast. Homemade happiness is centred on helping students discover their responsibility for contributing to the happiness of others. With the urgent need for strong families all over the world, Homemade Happiness 2016 hopes to be the first seminar of many.