Education for living, Learning for life: AYUDH’s 13th Youth Summit

15 – 23 July 2017, Odenwald, MA Center Germany

Two hundred and fifty youth from 21 nationalities joined together in Germany for an amazing week of learning, inspiration and cultural exchange. The camp addressed some of the most urgent issues facing our world today, ranging from integration and cultural understanding to civic engagement and sustainable lifestyles. As Amma says: “There are two kinds of education: education for living and education for life.” While education for a living is essential for success in the academic and material sense, education for life equips young people with the knowledge, skills and values needed to lead an ethical, empowering and socially beneficial life. It’s with this in mind, that the youth came together to explore the themes of the summit – Educate-Cultivate-Participate.

Learning, exchange and practical experience was centered in three categories in the form of interactive groups, facilitated by experts: peaceful and non-violent societies, sustainable lifestyles and European and global citizenship. Outcomes of these working groups were presented during ‘iTAGe AYUDH’, an intergenerational dialogue between youth and senior decision makers, hosted in collaboration with UNESCO MGIEP. {news}

‘Ignite’ talks – youth activists share their success stories

A new feature of this year’s youth summit, the ignite talks served as a means for the participants to boost their appetite to learn. Several, short, inspiring speeches were given by young activists throughout the week, to offer unique perspectives on how youth can actively begin to make their mark on society in a positive way.

The first of the week’s talk was delivered by 22-year old German United Nations youth delegate, Mio Kuschick, whose talk was centered on encouraging youth to consider different ways in which they can contribute to a peaceful and more inclusive world.

Vincent-Immanuel Herr who has the project for youngsters to have a free inter-Europe rail ticket when they turn 18, which will help them understand the cultures of different European nations. Vincent elaborated how a small idea can grow into a large movement.

Sina Laubenstein of the No Hate Speech Movement spoke about tackling online hate speech, and, as young people, how it is our responsibility to affect change through our online actions and by supporting victims. “Haters are the minority, but lack of counter speech increases their visibility. We have to get active online and defend our democratic values and rights.”

Tatiana Rinke of CliMates, a ‘Think and Do’ Tank, which gathers students and young workers from all around the world to work on innovative solutions to climate change. Explaining her work as communications director at CliMates, Tatiana said, “It might be scary for you to go into the decision room, but you have the power, go forward fearlessly”

Plenary talks

Br Shubamrita Chaitanya, one of Amma’s disciples, spoke on the power of the youth, blending his presentation with anecdotes and personal experiences. Shubamrita said, “We should educate ourselves about ourselves, cultivate commitment, and participate fearlessly in selfless actions. “Failure is not the opposite of success; it is a part of success.”

Bri Dipamrita, head of ETW France and one of Amma’s disciples lead an interactive reflective session detailing the importance of nourishing the soul as well as the body.

Gopi Kallayil, Chief Evangelist, Brand Marketing at Google treated the participants to a rousing speech and subsequent short workshop on imagining radical solutions to problems they encounter, and how innovation can come from anywhere and everywhere. “At the end of the day, all projects take on a deeper meaning when you take on the sense of what you’re solving for, the why. People do it because they want to make a difference in this world.”

Spiritual practice & prayer for world peace

Apart from the daily bhajans, guided meditation and yoga sessions, participants were also guided through a process of personal introspection and value assessment and peace meditation, facilitated by Br. Shubamrita and Bri. Dipamrita. Accompanied by chants of ‘Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu’ participants lit candles and let them float on M.A. Center’s pond, with a prayer for world peace.

Apart from all these, the youngsters had the option of taking part in 13 workshops, including meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, dance, arts, and sports. To wind down and integrate the intense program of the day, evenings included youth-led community-building activities, such as a fashion-exchange fair, to foster sustainable consumption, bonfire and music circles, a 50-meter water slide, sports events, and documentary screenings.

Music and dance festival – OdenWorld 3.0

As is customary at AYUDH’s European Youth Summits, a big intercultural festival marked the end of an action packed and highly eventful week. OdenWorld 3.0 was an amazing showcase of both local and international talent, creativity and cultural diversity. AYUDH participants, as well as international acts from Germany, Greece, Switzerland, and Spain, entertained the youth and locals alike.

After an action-packed week of creative learning, participants went back home with a sense of empowerment and inspiration to not only create a change in their own lives but the world at large as well. As Amma says: “If our youth arise and act, they have the strength and dynamism to create a huge impact in society.”