Over 150 youth took part in the AYUDH Americas annual summit, “The Ripple Effect 2017–Create. Sustain. Engage.” Students and young professionals representing 10 countries and 25 universities across the globe came together from August 2nd – 6th at the MA Center Chicago, to strategize about the role youth can play in worldwide issues, to engage in spiritual and reflective activities, and to participate in workshops on sustainable development, nature, creativity, self-expression, music, sports, and world peace.
The youth-chosen theme this year of Create Sustain Engage was a call to all individuals to serve as living examples of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Participants enjoyed talks by Amma’s disciples including Swami Ramakrishnananda, Br. Shantamrita Chaitanya and Br. Ramanand. Mornings and evenings were spent in silent reflection and prayers for world peace and meditation. Mornings with Amrita Yoga where they learned to look within for peace, joy, and the confidence to daringly move forward to change the world. Participants also found bliss in opportunities for group and individual selfless service.
The youth were joined and inspired by many special guests including Award-winning Disability Rights Activist and accident survivor Malvika Iyer who inspired the crowd with her personal stories and odds-defying accomplishments. Delivering a poignant address to AYUDH, Iyer motivated all to understand that, “People don’t have disabilities, society creates them…Competing with people will only leave you unsatisfied. So find what makes you unique as an individual and work on being better for yourself.”
The youth were also treated to special guests Chatilla van Grinsven, a Women’s NBA star and prominent member of the Dutch National Basketball Team, Lucia Rijker, a champion welterweight, kick-boxer, and fighter known as “The Most Dangerous Woman in the World, Sienna Nordquist, 2015 Global Community Champion for Women’s Economic Empowerment and activist against human trafficking. Ms. Nordquist explained, “You have to choose your battles. Fight them. And have faith in yourself that you can make a difference.”
The summit culminated with AYUDH collectively developing the three new initiatives for the 2017-2018 academic year. This year AYUDH Americas will focus on Sustainable Development Goals – Zero Hunger, Gender Equality and Quality Education.