AYUDH Europe’s annual Youth Summit at M.A Center Germany was a grand event, marking the genesis of its second decade. The initiative is growing stronger in spirits and strength with each passing year. This year AYUDH saw 250 participants from twenty-three countries take part in the week long retreat, themed ‘Together We Can’. They were from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, Ukraine and USA.
The Youth Summit was packed with an assortment of events: Motivational talks, workshops, an anti-cyber-bullying campaign, spiritual practices, a sports day, music video shooting, picnic and a spectacular music and dance show to conclude the week.
Renowned personalities from various disciplines gave inspiring talks related to the theme ‘Together We Can’.
Israel’s ex-minister for education and current member of parliament Rabbi Shai Moshe Piron led an interactive session with Adi Altschuler, a social activist from Israel. Adi, who was selected as a ‘Next Generation Leader’ by TIME magazine, related her story of founding the large youth movement ‘Krembo Wings’ at age sixteen, opening thirty five branches across the country with three thousand youth volunteers to interact and become friends with disabled children. She encouraged the youth to effect change in society by taking a leap of faith and follow their dreams and visions. The Rabbi surprised everyone by playing the guitar and teaching a Hebrew peace-song to the audience.
Manish Pandey (UK), writer of the Bafta winning documentary Senna, related the turning points of his life and by example captivated and motivated the audience. He highlighted how any successful project relies on the spirit of togetherness and contribution of all members involved.
Award-winning Italian film maker Marzia Mete presented her inspiring musical video ‘Motherless Child’ which was themed around ‘finding a home’. She expressed her support and views on giving care to the homeless.
Six time Kickboxing and Boxing world-champion Lucia Rijker attended the summit for the second time after 2011. She inspired all attendees with her speech and gave wonderful answers in the Q&A session that followed.
Bri. Dipamrita, leader of the NGO ‘Embracing the World France’ gave an impactful speech on the current climatic changes and the urgent need to act together in order to avoid a global catastrophe. She related that the top scientists of the world agree that the upcoming COP21 summit in France was the last chance for a political solution and that the world leaders start to realize that this was not possible without adding a spiritual dimension to the discussions.
To top it all, during the last couple of days Br. Shubamrita led incredible seminars and discussions. He taught the value in being able to answer some important questions in life: “Did I live?”, “Did I share love?” “Did I matter?”.
A large variety of workshops was offered by professionals from the respective fields: AYUDH Project Management, HOPE (Harps Of PEace -Therapeutic Harp Playing), Photography, African Drumming, Hip Hop Dance, Raw Vegan Lifestyle, Developing the RespAct Project against Cyberbullying, Permaculture, AnanDao (Martial Arts), Self-Development through Interaction with Horses, IAM Meditation for Youth, Artwork and Thai Yoga Massage.
RespAct’ Project against (Cyber-)Bullying
A central element of the week was the ‘RespAct’ project against (cyber)mobbing in schools. To kick-start the initiative, on Monday 13th July, all 250 AYUDH members visited the Theodor Litt Schule, a middle school in the nearby town of Michelstadt, with five hundred students. Over the past six months AYUDH members from the fields of psychology, education and social work had been working together with teachers from the school to raise awareness about this issue in the school community.
The ‘RespAct’event at the school began with the performance of creative skits by the AYUDH country groups and local students, highlighting problems associated with bullying and possible solutions. Next, Lucia Rijker gave a stunning speech on how the value of ‘respect’ has helped her excel in the professional world of sports as well as in her personal life. She stressed on three aspects of respect, which she considered essential in creating a positive school climate: respect for oneself, respect for the other and respect for the community. As a statement against bullying, all students, teachers and AYUDH members gathered for a group photograph on the school yard, forming the letters ‘stop mobbing’ (German for ‘bullying’).
The project was received with much acclaim. Mayor of Michelstadt, Stephan Kelbert expressed his thankfulness to AYUDH for launching the initiative. The local media published a radio feature and a newspaper report.
The RespAct project was further developed in a dedicated 4-day workshop at the school, under the guidance of Lucia Rijker. Apart from the AYUDH youth it also involved three teachers and 25 students from the school, some of whom were refugees and youth with migration background. It was a great opportunity for them to open up and relate to an international group of young people, where they could freely talk about their challenges of integration and finding a cultural identity. (read more).
Music, Sports and Picnic
Like every year, AYUDH youth wrote, composed and recorded a theme song for the week. This years track was titled ‘One Heart’, highlighting the unity of all people beyond their culture, creed and skin color. A music video was shot with all young people dancing and celebrating together.
The third day bore a highly loved sports tournament in which all participants got to experience the spirit of togetherness in a joyful way.
Towards the end of the week a fun filled picnic was organised in the woods. Eating out in nature, then celebrating with some peace songs and games in the open air was fabulous and truly unforgettable.
Turning the focus within
To balance the outgoing activities of the week, spiritual practices were offered every day, including Bhajans, meditation and yoga. A beautiful evening for contemplation was created on Wednesday 15th July, when Br. Shubamrita led the participants in an interactive session to reflect on their personal vision and goal in life. A symbolic tree of life was placed on the stage and every participant was encouraged to write his personal dreams, as well as goals to be achieved by the AYUDH community, on a paper leaf and attach it to the tree. Candlelight and the beautiful tunes of AYUDH members performing songs of inspiration made this evening a memorable and profound event.
Together for 2016
Aligning with the spirit of togetherness an ‘Open Space’ forum was offered, where every participant had the chance to express which were the most important issues to be addressed by AYUDH in the forthcoming year. The opinions and dreams of the 250 youth were summarized by the AYUDH organizers in a common theme for 2016: ‘One World. One Home’. It reflects AYUDH’s ambition to care for people without a home, protect the sanctity of our planet and at the same time strive to find our spiritual home.
The finale of the Summit was marked by a multicultural festival called ‘OdenWorld’, which was attended by six hundred people from the surrounding towns as well as guests from around Europe. The concept of the show was to combine youth talents from around the world with local artists from the Odenwald region.
OdenWorld gave an insight into the values and projects of AYUDH and Embracing the World. District Coordinator Dietrich Kübler addressed the gathering and expressed his admiration for the good work of AYUDH and Amma.
The entertainment included musical performances from the local school’s band and the African Drumming Band Bingoma. AYUDHs contributions ranged from classical renditions to traditional dances from the Basque region to the AYUDH band performing hit songs of AYUDH and a seemingly never ending version of Mata Rani.
Dundu – symbol of oneness
The highlight of the evening was the appearance of Dundu – the giant of light – a gigantic human figurette that is self-illumined. Dundu had previously appeared at major global events such as the 2012 Olympic Games, World Church Day and the UNESCO World Youth Festival. Standing as a symbol for the unity and oneness of all people, Dundu impressed the audience with a mesmerizing drama and then in an unforgettable dance party, concluding with the theme song ‘One Heart’.
Like every year, the mayor of Brombachtal, Willi Kredel, handed over certificates of participation to all AYUDH members at the end of the week, acknowledging their contribution and involvement in AYUDH as an important non-formal learning experience.
Together for AYUDH
More than 80 volunteers from around Europe worked tirelessly to make ‘Together We Can’ such a grand success. The initiative was also supported by the district coordinator Dietrich Kubler, the municipalities of Michelstadt and Brombachtal and the Foundation of the Sparkasse Odenwald.
Looking forward to 2016:
The next AYUDH EU Youth Summit ‘One World. One Home.’ will take place from 17th – 24th July 2016 at M.A. Centre Germany. If you like to receive updates and be notified when registration opens, please sign up to our newsletter or like ‘AYUDH Europe’ on Facebook.
‘Youth of Europe unites against bullying’:
‘Together for a peaceful world’:
[imagebrowser id=12 w=640 h=480]