Highlights: The 2012 European Youth Retreat
The 8th European AYUDH Youth Initiative, held at the M.A. Center Germany, brought together over 200 youth from 15 countries. As in previous years, the event was supported by the ‘Youth in Action’ programme of the EU and the city of Michelstadt.
The theme of this year's gathering was The Joy of Giving, where the youth focused on how they can use their personal talents and potential for the benefit of society and the environment. The same theme is also being used for the two AYUDH gatherings in the United States this summer at the M.A. Center D.C and the M.A. Center Chicago.
Each youth chose one workshop for the duration of the whole week. The workshops were designed to help the participants deepen their understanding of the three main topics of the initiative: ‘Give to Yourself’, ‘Give to Society’ and ‘Give to Nature.’
- Psychology: Introduced the ‘Flow’ phenomena, which helps one to be more efficient, happy and relaxed in one’s work.
- Singing, Dancing, Acting and Artwork: Offered the chance to explore and express creative potential. All songs were written and composed by the participants themselves, ranging from Rap to Jazz to folk music. In two acting workshops, the youth developed their improvisation & storytelling skills, while also learning about the discipline of acting.
- Permaculture: Introduced an alternative sustainable way to work with nature.
- Bodywork: Taught youth to simple and effective techniques for increased relaxation.
- Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique for Youth: Taught the participants a simple yet effective meditation technique that can help them to be more balanced, focused and creative in their studies, work and personal life.
Each day, a renowned speaker inspired the youth with motivational talks, using examples from their own lives. The speakers included Kirsi Ranto, a pop-singer from Finland; and Krisztina Peremartoni, the lead actress of the Hungarian National Theatre for 25 years who talked to the participants of how singing and acting can also be used to help society and stressed on how much a refined character is important in remaining successful. Kirty Matabadal, UN Ambassador for Youth from the Netherlands shared her aspirations, tasks and responsibilities.
The camp also had a very special visit from world-renowned German artist Rebecca Horn. Accompanied by Hayden Chisholm, a musician and composer from New Zealand, the evening began with the screening of the film made by her, titled Moon Mirror Journey. The youngsters experienced the palpable atmosphere created by each piece, including ‘Jungle of Light,' the installation dedicated to Amma. In her speech, Rebecca Horn encouraged the youth to go back to their roots, value their cultural heritage and spread their love in society.
The talks by Br. Shubamrita on ‘Giving to Society’ and Bri. Dipamrita on ‘Giving to Nature’ highlighted on how everybody has the potential to create change in the world and in the restoring harmony between human beings and nature – in big and small ways.
Walk for Education
On the third day of the camp the youth took part in a charity walk ‘Walk for Education’ in the picturesque city of Michelstadt.
Back home, each participant had worked for raising awareness and funds for the walk, directed towards helping Embracing the World in their educational projects for children. To support the youth in their cause and inform the public, the local bank hosted a one-month video and photo exhibition about the educational initiatives of Embracing the World.
Along the way, the youth visited an old-age home and spent a few hours with the residents there. Some young people visited room-bound elderly people and distributed some gifts hand-made by the participants. The Portuguese group played and sang for the elderly people in their rooms. Afterwards, Spanish TV-comedian Antonio Jose Garcia del Valle entertained the residents and youth with a medley of popular songs and skits, bringing both tears and laughter to everyone’s face.
Dil Se De
On the penultimate afternoon, the youngsters shared the ‘Joy of Giving’ through a multicultural, street theater performance. All the topics explored during the week -- like benefits of meditation, protecting Mother Nature, conserving water and energy and relaxation techniques -- were translated into music, dance and drama. The performance culminated in a 200 strong dance troupe to this year’s theme song Dil Se De. Passers-by were impressed by the young people’s talents and sincere concern for environmental and social issues.
Artist Gabriele von Lutzau visited the M.A. Center to inaugurate a cast of the peace dove carved during the previous year. Each participant joined in the universal peace prayer Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu and carried a candle to the nearby lake and gently placed it on the waters. It was a beautiful sight to see the 200 lighted candles, floating on the surface of water, with the atmosphere reverberating with the chants for world peace. The serene atmosphere created by the candle ceremony continued into a special exclusive concert with Kirsi Ranto and Antonio Jose Garcia del Valle. Other AYUDH participants shared their musical talents and an overwhelming feeling of pure joy was experienced by all.
On the final day Mr. Willi Kredel, the Mayor of Brombachtal, thanked the youth for travelling to the local region and mentioned how inspired he is by all that AYUDH does.
Throughout the week, the youth had drafted follow-up ‘Joy of Giving’ projects for implementation in their home countries. Each young person left for home with their hearts filled with happiness, gratitude and enthusiasm to continue ‘Giving,’ which is such an important part of Amma’s life and teachings.