AYUDH’s 14th European Youth Summit, 14 – 22 July 2018, M.A. Center Germany
250 youth from across Europe participated 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 the Environment
To kick-off the summit, AYUDH launched its new sustainability campaign Trees for Peace. As a partner organisation 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. See German news report here
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.
Peace with Others
A highlight of the week was the plenary talk by Br. Shubamrita Chaitanya, monk and meditation teacher from India. His interactive session with participants focused on building and maintaining interpersonal relationships with the people in one’s life. He said
“Taking a step back can save a relationship, save a society, and even save the world! We need to be flexible with our likes and dislikes. This will bring harmony to relationships, and peace within.”
Focusing on another important aspect of peace with others, Jelena Sporin (Netherlands) spoke about her work with the peace organisation 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 Yourself
Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, Vice-Chairman of Indian-based NGO M.A. Math and President of Amrita University, visited the AYUDH Europe summit for the third time. In his talk he said:
“Some people may praise you, others may criticise you. You feel comfortable with some and uncomfortable with others. Everything that happens in our relationships happens within us first. A relationship only magnifies this. If your deepest thought is fear, others become afraid of you. If it is love, it’s peace they will feel.”
Later, Swamiji led the evening singing, which was followed by a meditation at the small lake at M.A. Center. In the serene atmosphere, everyone floated a small candle onto the water of the lake, praying for the happiness and peace of all beings.
Swamiji also gave the keynote address at the Science of Happiness, an intergenerational and interdisciplinary panel discussion exploring the topic of happiness and mental health of youth. The panel included four youth panelists as well as the professional experts Emma Kenny, TV psychologist from the UK, Simon Kuany from UNESCO MGIEP (South Sudan) and Lucia Rjiker, former World Champion in Boxing and Kickboxing (The Netherlands). Read the outcome document here.
After the morning talks, participants could chose 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 group, participants leant about mindfulness and how to create a safe inner space for emotional growth.
This year the choice of workshops was bigger than ever with AcroYoga, Sustainable Fashion, Singing, Hip Hop Dance, Singing, Psychology, Tai Chi, Dance, Art, Permaculture, Photography and Acting all on offer.
To further help foster the new friendships forming during the week, participants together enjoyed a sports tournament, colour fight, waterslide, sunset picnic, dance practice to the theme song ‘Generation of Peace’ and popcorn-filled movie night to watch the eco-documentary ‘Plastic Ocean’.
Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya, leader of the french NGO ‘ETW-France’, 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 innovation, inspiring talks from expert speakers and community building activities. A lot of participants remarked that the European Youth Summit is the highlight of the year for them. Many new international friendships were built, and participants opened up with each other to lay the foundations of peace in their lives. When departing M.A.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.
The summit was organised by AYUDH Europe e.V. (based in Germany), in cooperation with ten AYUDH partner groups from Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. In total, youth with 23 nationalities participated. The summit was co-funded by the European Union and carried out in partnership with the No Hate Speech Movement.
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