300 youth from 30 countries participated in AYUDH Europe’s 12th Youth Summit
AYUDH’s 12th annual European Youth Summit “One World. One Home” took place from 16th-24th July at the M.A. Center in Brombachtal near Frankfurt, Germany. The summit provided a unique platform for personal development, intercultural dialogue and creative expression. Each day was dedicated to a different aspect of home: diversity, inclusion, connection, equality, self-transformation, sustainability, peace and a shared vision. For the first time, young people from Albania, Argentina, Estonia, Georgia, Macedonia, Mexico, New Zealand, Romania, Serbia, Syria and Uganda participated in the event, making it a total of 300 young people from 30 nationalities.
Participants at AYUDH’s 11th Youth Summit in 2015 envisioned the theme of the 2016 summit to be ‘Home’: how we can create a better place - for ourselves and others, while caring for our shared planet, Earth. In this context, they conceptualised home as more than just a physical place, but rather -- a space of security, love and integration.
Participants at ‘One World. One Home.’ Youth Summit
AYUDH holds that personal transformation lies at the heart of real change - in the world, and in us. In addition to the cultural, social, political and ecological perspectives, we also considered a spiritual dimension when addressing each daily topic of the summit. The teachings of spiritual and humanitarian leader Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) formed an important part of this reflection.
Interactive Reflection Sessions
Each day had an extended interactive reflection sessions centred around inspirational and motivational talks from guest speakers.
Gopi Kallayil, Chief Brand Evangelist at Google opened the week with a lively session on moving from the internet to the inner-net, sharing techniques with the youth to balance their outer responsibilities while nurturing their inner lives. Offering practical tips such as focusing on the essential, doing one thing at a time, making gratitude lists and scheduling appointments with oneself, he also led morning yoga classes that he pioneered at Google’s headquarters.
Br. Shubamrita Chaitanya, one of the mentors of AYUDH Europe, talked to the youth about diversity and interdependence, the need to avoid harsh judgements, be more forgiving and broaden one’s understanding. “What we need is not judgment, what we need is understanding - which requires patience and love. As it grows, you include more and more people in your life. Inclusion is a mindset: the realization that everyone has something to contribute to the world and each person matters.”
Swami Amritaswarupananda, Vice Chairman of Mata Amritanandamayi Math, spoke about home as a place for self-transformation. He emphasized the need to move from a results-oriented society to an action-oriented society, to focus on good actions and to cultivate empathy. He shared a two-step process to develop one’s inner capacities: love yourself and accept others. He reiterated Amma’s message of compassion as the first step, and the last step, towards achieving the goal of self-transformation. “Pure love, pure compassion,” he said, “unites us all and creates the home we look for in the world.”
Empowering Youth through Gender Equality
On the day themed “Home as a place of equality”, AYUDH hosted a dynamic panel discussion dedicated to the ideas, identities and issues that inform the contemporary discourse around gender equality and the complexities involved in changing the dominant gendered perspective in the world. Through this discussion, we aimed to explore the role of young people in promoting gender equality, how they can positively contribute to advancing a less discriminatory society and whether simply empowering women and working towards giving them equal standing in a community or society is sufficient to lead to the promise of justice that lies at the heart of this—and any—inclusive social movement. Speakers included Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya, Head of the Amma Center in France; Kristina Lunz, Mercator Fellow and Advisor to UN Women Germany; Lucia Rijker, world champion kickboxer and motivational coach; Vanessa Anyoti, Program Coordinator, YWCA Tanzania; Mandy Michaeli, Co-Executive Director of Israeli Gay Youth and Anja Stiefel, Swiss Olympic medallist.
Stephan Kelbert, Mayor of the City of Michelstadt opened the session, remarking that although Germany had made great strides towards gender equality, there was still a long road ahead but seeing the young AYUDH members in the audience gave him hope for the future. Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya shared her thoughts through the lens of Amma’s teachings: “Which eye is more important? Both are equally important. Men and women should work equally together.” Mandy Michaeli urged the audience to talk about gender freedom instead of gender equality, and echoed the need to engage both men and women on the issue. In her closing remarks, Kristina Lunz reassured participants of the power of their voices, “If we are all willing to speak up for gender equality, real change is possible. Be patient and turn your anger into a constructive, transformative tool .”
Participants also watched a special video message from Ravi Karkara, Senior Strategic Advisor to the Deputy Executive Director, UN Women and Co-Chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development. ‘For the first time, the world has a timeline to achieve gender equality [by end 2030],” he said. “We must ensure that every single Sustainable Development Goals impacts women and girls worldwide; that the goals are inclusive. It’s critical that youth organizations such as AYUDH play an important role.” Addressing the youth, he said, “1.8 billion of you exist in the world - this is a huge opportunity to achieve gender parity, achieve diversity and end all forms of inequality.”
One Humanity Symposium
On July 22nd 2016, AYUDH Europe organized “One Humanity”, a high-level symposium held at the historic Kloster Eberbach monastery in Eltville Am Rhein, Germany. Bringing together leading voices in the fields of politics, diplomacy, activism, spirituality and education with 300 young participants from AYUDH’s annual European Youth Summit, this gathering aimed to encourage a paradigm shift from a narrow focus on personal, political and cultural identities to a more fundamental human identity, and the shared need to be respected, understood and loved for who we are.
In his keynote address, Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri urged leaders to listen to young people. “These young minds,” he said, “are the answer for all the challenges our world, our planet Earth, is facing today.” Bjørn Ihler, a young activist who survived the Utøya massacre, related his moving and powerful experience of confronting his attacker and his personal journey to forgiveness. He expressed appreciation for Amma’s message of love, saying, “I think we need to start here and build on what Amma does, to build rituals of love to counteract the politics of hate and fear that currently drive the world.”
Anne Brasseur, the official ambassador of the No Hate Speech Movement and former President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, presented the rationale behind the No Hate campaign to protect European values. “We must understand that with hate we are destroying our societies. We need a narrative of equality, of solidarity, of peace for all of us. We need youth in order to spread the message that we have to live in a life without fear,” she said.
Martine Reicherts, Director-General of Education and Culture, European Commission delivered the closing remarks. She affirmed the central message of the event, saying, “The One Humanity Symposium is about love, about sharing values – I really think this is a step in the right direction. Often in politics, we do not dare to use the word love – but I think we should dare to say it, and to practice it. Love is a universal language and we have to return to it.
Additional panel members included Ernesto Marinelli, SAP Vice President for HR in Europe, Middle East and Africa and Indra Adnan, Founder and Director of Soft Power Network, UK. Ahmad Alhendawi, UN Special Envoy on Youth, sent a special video message to the youth.
AYUDH’s popular multicultural festival ‘OdenWorld’ returned on the final night of the summit, showcasing the talent, creativity and cultural diversity of AYUDH participants right in the heart of Odenwald.The show included performances by the award-winning Israeli band The Ultras; Polish rapper Spinache; Finnish singer Kirsi Ranto, award-winning hip-hop dance troupe Diamond Breakers and the AYUDH band, led by Bruno Steffen, Marcus Bodenmann and Ekkehard Sassenhausen, as well as performances by AYUDH participants.
One of the highlights of AYUDH’s European Youth Summits are the extensive number of diverse workshops which are offered to foster personal growth and transformation as well as offering practical training in leadership, change-making, mindfulness and sustainability. This year, AYUDH offered the largest selection of workshops to date, including Tai Chi, Acro Yoga, Integrated Amrita Meditation, Martial Arts and Movement workshops, Permaculture, Urban Gardening and Sustainability training, Drafting a Declaration and Lobbying for Impact, Documentary Filmmaking, Leadership and Public Speaking Skills, Rap, Singing, Drumming, and Irish dance, among many others. Workshop leaders and participants performed creative presentations of what they had learned during the ‘OdenWorld’ celebration on the final night of the summit.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Building on AYUDH’s involvement in the organization of the first-ever Youth CSW Forum and the HRC Youth Forum this past year, the summit offered a space in which participants were introduced to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 Global Goals were agreed on by 193 UN Member States in 2015, to shape the global agenda for sustainable development in the coming fifteen years and beyond. This year’s summit was primarily focused around SDG 16 and SDG 5 to correlate with a home founded on peace, justice and equality. At the end of the summit, youth were invited to vote for the goals they found most urgent, relevant and where they felt they could have the most impact, to define AYUDH’s focus for the 2017 summit.
At the end of such an eventful, fun, ambitious and inspiring week, AYUDH members across Europe are eagerly looking forward to the 2017 summit! In the coming months, our organizing team will be working on collating feedback to determine the theme for next year. Stay tuned!
We leave you with some final thoughts from our wonderful and enthusiastic participants:
“It is my first experience with AYUDH. The people here are wonderful, everyone is very open, friendly, respectful towards each other, and open-minded. I also really like the spiritual part: there’s more to life than what we see.” - Eva, 21, Netherlands
“AYUDH is a really good thing because it’s somewhere that everybody can find their place.” - Anaëlle, 20, France
“AYUDH has taught me that if there is one thing I can do to change the world, it is being nice to people. If everybody thinks about what they can give to others, the world would be a far better place.” - Caolan, 17, Ireland
Participants came from Albania, Argentina, Austria, Croatia, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Uganda, United Kingdom, USA.
AYUDH’s 12th European Youth Summit was carried out by M.A. Center Germany - Seminarzentrum Hof Herrenberg e.V., which was supported by the Council of Europe's European Youth Foundation, SAP and Kloster Eberbach Foundation. The summit was carried out in partnership with the United Nations Inter-Agency-Network on Youth Development, the No Hate Speech Movement, the Lebenshilfe e.V. Offenburg and the German municipalities of Brombachtal and Michelstadt.
Pre-Announcement of Symposium
BLOG no hate speech movement
Report after the Symposium
hr Hessischer Rundfunk TV
About the Summit in General
About OdenWorld 2.0