A new generation of peace – AYUDH’s 14th European Youth Summit

14 – 22 July 2018, M.A. Center Germany

250 youth from 23 nationalities gathered to participate in the 14th European Youth Summit Generation of Peace. The different elements of the summit – talks, interactive panel discussions, youth-driven working groups, creative workshops and sharing groups – all aimed to explore the theme subdivided into three categories: Peace with the Environment, Peace with Others, and Peace with Yourself.

Peace with Yourself

Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri delivered a touching and inspiring talk on the topic and held a beautiful Q&A session with the youth. Later, he led the evening bhajans, where everyone participated with enthusiasm and devotion. This was followed by a meditation and prayer for peace at the small ashram lake. As the collective sound of everyone chanting “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” rung peacefully through the German countryside, everyone floated a small candle onto the water of the lake, praying for the happiness and peace of all beings.

Peace with Others

Another highlight of the week was the plenary talk by Br. Shubamrita Chaitanya. His interactive session with participants focused on building and maintaining interpersonal relationships with the people in one’s life.

Focusing on another important aspect of peace with others, Jelena Sporin from the Netherlands spoke about her work with the peace organization PAX in war-torn Sudan. Hearing about the slow and challenging process of rebuilding trust and peace, as well as the dangers and violence of war was deeply moving to many of the youth.

Another different, yet important aspect to create peaceful societies was highlighted by UK fashion icon Lynne Franks, who focused her talk on promoting women’s leadership, sustainability and social responsibility in business.

Peace with the Environment

During the summit, AYUDH launched its new sustainability campaign Trees for Peace. As a partner organization of the Trillion Tree Campaign, mentored by Prince Albert from Monaco, AYUDH commits to plant 1,000 trees across Europe over the next three years. Together with Plant for the Planet ambassador Johannes and Willi Kredel, Mayor of Brombachtal, the first ten fruit trees were planted on municipality ground. The saplings were then fed with a mixture of water brought from the participants’ home countries.

To further explore the theoretical background of sustainable living, Katja Kukolj (Sweden) from the eco-village network GEN, gave a talk highlighting many practical and simple examples of how to implement small, but impactful, changes in daily life.

After the morning talks, participants could choose to participate in one of three thematic working groups, which created an inspiring and intimate atmosphere for learning, intercultural exchange, team building and bonding. The ‘Peace with the Environment’ working group explored the relationship between sustainability, global stability and active citizenship. In the ‘Peace with Others’ working group, participants learned how to transform conflicts from negative interactions into positive ones. They also carried out a Human Library, where participants could listen to human ‘books’ telling their remarkable stories, helping each other to overcome stereotypes and preconceived notions. During the ‘Peace with Yourself’ working participants learnt about mindfulness and how to create a safe inner space for emotional and spiritual growth.

This year the choice of workshops was bigger than ever with AcroYoga, Sustainable Fashion, Singing, Hip Hop Dance, Bhajans, Psychology, Tai Chi, Dance, Art, Permaculture, Photography and Acting all on offer. Amrita Yoga sessions were offered every morning, Bhajans and Meditation in the evenings.

Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya hosted a beautiful evening painting session where she asked participants to take a moment to focus on the feeling of peace within themselves, and then to express this feeling through art. Everyone painted peacefully while enjoying some gorgeous soft musical performances by fellow AYUDHians.

On the final night of the summit, many participants performed in the AYUDH Talent Show. The high standard on display from each act was truly astounding and totally wowed the crowd. The 14th European Youth Summit was an action-packed week full of learning, self-reflection, fun and community building activities. When departing M.A. Center Germany to head back to their homes, the inspired youth held strong in their hearts the belief that, together, we truly are a Generation of Peace.

As Amma says “Let us stand together and show the world that compassion, love and concern for our fellow beings have not completely vanished from the face of this earth. Let us build a new world of peace and harmony by remaining deeply rooted in the universal values that have nourished humanity since time immemorial. Let us say goodbye to war and brutality forever, reducing them to the stuff of fairytales. Let us be remembered in the future as the generation of peace.”