Color the World with Love

AYUDH’s ninth European Youth Initiative “Our World – Our Vision – Our Future” was a grand success. More than 200 young people between the ages of 15 and 30 years gathered from 13th – 20th July 2013 at M.A. Center Germany, Brombachtal. For the first time participants from Greece, Denmark and Lebanon took part in the initiative, making it a total of 21 nationalities present.

This year’s initiative invited participants to reflect upon their ambitions and dreams – for their own lives and the world as a whole. Interactive talks and workshops by renowned personalities from the fields of politics, society, media and personal development inspired the youth to define their personal vision and take practical steps to reach their goals.

Inspiring talks

Kirty Matabadal, the current Youth Ambassador to the UN (Netherlands) addressed the conference for the second time. The feedback that she had collected from the AYUDH participants last year was included in her speech that she gave in front of the UN General Assembly in New York on Oct 8th, 2012. This time she challenged participants to debate about the future of the planet in regard to food security: “Today there are 7 billion people on this planet. We produce food for 12 billion people, 1 billion is facing starvation and 1,5 billion are obese. Where do we go wrong?” This was the question she put to the youngsters. The answers by the youth ranged from sustainable education for children, awareness campaigns to localized food production and will be presented at the conference Eat2Feed with the Dutch Foreign Minister, organized on World Food Day 2013.

Jani Toivola, the Member of Parliament (Finland), shared his experiences of growing up as a person with African roots in a society that was almost exclusively fair-skinned. Jani told about the misunderstandings, discrimination and fear he faced as a child. Through self-acceptance and tolerance he gained the strength to overcome these obstacles and become a successful actor and later politician in Finland. As a member of parliament Jani today campaigns for minority and immigrant rights, youth employment and development aid.

Laura Schneider, actress and singer (Germany) reminded the youth that our vision of success should not only include our personal gain: “I reached my goal of being an actress.”  She shared with the youngsters the recipe for her success. She said, “What really matters is the intention behind your vision. If you’re intention is ‘me, me, me’ – I am not sure about that. But if you’re intention is for the benefits of all beings – miracles are going to happen. Doors are going to open. My life is a living proof that this is possible.”

A completely different angle on following one’s vision was given by Aart Huijg (Netherlands), who cycled 34,000 kilometers from the North- to the South Pole: “I took the decision to take this 620 day long trip simply for one reason – because I knew that I could! I knew that anything was possible if only I believed in myself.” Aart faced many adverse situations, physical exhaustion and survived on just 5 Euro per day – enough to eat, but not enough to pay for a smartphone!

Br. Shubamrita Chaitanya (India) from the NGO Embracing the World encouraged the youth to become responsible leaders, practicing the three “R”s: Respect for Self, Respect for others and Responsibility for all our actions. Br. Shubamrita stressed the importance of Compassionate Leadership in the present times to bring about a change in the world by giving the example of Amma, founder of the NGO Embracing the World. He said, “It is easy to keep discussing for days together about the present condition of the world and blame everybody for it. But Amma has a different approach. She does not just talk about it but tries to do something about it. She also tries to make everyone ask himself or herself, “What I am doing to make the situation better.”

Bri. Dipamrita Chaitanya, leader of the French NGO ETW-France, outlined how an optimistic vision of life can greatly enhance our level of happiness, contentment and health. Her talk was interspersed with interesting anecdotes and inspiring videos.

15 workshops

In the afternoons participants could choose between a diverse range of workshops: Finding flow in everyday life (psychology), story-telling and impro-theatre, youth-IAM meditation, yoga & chanting, tai chi, and healthy nutrition, singing, impro-dance, 5-rhythms-dance, communicating with the horses, building a labyrinth, and artwork.

The photography workshop collected thousands of stunning photos and put together a digital photo-review of the week. >> watch the video

One workshop group built a labyrinth out of sand and stone in the garden of M.A. Center. The labyrinth, which was designed after the model of the ancient labyrinth of Chartres, France, has been used in many ancient cultures around the world as a tool for finding one’s personal vision and path in life.

An exclusive workshop in harp playing was led by Christina Tourin, an internationally renowned harp player and pioneer in harp-therapy. On Wednesday, 17th July, the workshop participants gave a concert in the local old age home, sharing the gift of music with the elderly residents. Christina Tourin also gifted two harps to participants of her workshop, who will continue the visits of old-age homes in Portugal and Austria.

Building a barefoot-path for local community center

As every year, AYUDH also wants to make a contribution to the local surroundings. Therefore one workshop group built a barefoot path in the garden of the social care-center in Michelstadt. The bare-footpath is made up of natural materials and is open to people of all ages to train their sense of touch. Mr. Stephan Kelbert, the Mayor of Michelstadt, praised the youth’s contribution and hard work while inaugurating it on July 19th.

Sustainability campaign in schools

At least one youth from every nation participated in the In-Deed workshop, which trained them as coaches in sustainable development. Once the youth are back in their home countries they will visit schools and child-care centers to teach the children how to save water, grow their own organic food and protect biodiversity. Upon completing the school visits, participants will be awarded with the “Youth Pass”, a certificate by the European Commission for Education and Culture. “Youth Pass” certifies non-formal learning in the youth field and is acknowledged as part of the professional career of the youth throughout Europe. (www.youthpass.eu)

Turning the vision within

Sessions of meditation, yoga, tai chi and bhajans were held everyday and allowed the youth to turn their vision within and integrate the diverse impressions of the day. After dinner the youth were invited to take part in interactive sessions led by Br. Shubamrita and Bri. Dipamrita to reflect upon their values, personal strengths and the impact they want to have in the world. The brilliant and very mature comments sparked a lively dialogue and ended the day in a reflective mode.

Art-project: “color the world with love”

As one of the EU’s 2013 priorities is ‘creativity’, the youth undertook a huge group-art-project to literally “color the world with love”: The continents of the earth were cut out in wooden pieces, which were then colored with the handprints of each and every participant. In the end, a unique mosaic of colors and shapes was created – a testimony of the youth’s willingness to work with their hands and hearts towards creating a beautiful and colorful world.

According to the slogan “color the world with love” the youth also composed a new rap song in eleven languages. A music video clip for the track was produced and recorded during the initiative. >> watch the video

Video Contest: Draw Your Vision!

Prior to the camp the youth were invited to take part in the video-contest “draw your vision”. The most creative and innovative video was selected by participants of the initiative and was awarded with a photo- and videocamera. >> watch the video

Summer festival

The grand conclusion of the week was a summer festival on the eve of Friday 19th July, during with each workshop presented the results of their group work. The diverse range of presentations gave an impressive demonstration of AYUDH’s talent and creativity.

After the show, everyone proceeded to the inauguration of the labyrinth at M.A. Center. Under the rays of the rising moon the youth enjoyed an exclusive classical concert with harp, flute and soprano. In this mystical atmosphere 300 candles were lit, which were then carried by the youth to the close-by lake, where they were set into the water. During the procession the youth sang the ancient Sanskrit prayer “Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” – praying for all beings in creation to be peaceful and happy.

Back in the event hall, Finnish pop-singer Kirsi Ranto and many of the youth gave a stunning concert, which culminated in a seemingly never-ending rendition of “Mata Rani”. The joy of the youth knew no boundaries as they danced and sang to the music.

As every year the Mayor of Brombachtal, Mr. Willi Kredel, attended the conclusion function on Saturday, 20th July, to hand over certificates of participation to all.

Press

The regional press covered the AYUDH initiative extensively, in three newspaper reports in the “Odenwälder Echo” and one radio report in the “Hessischer Rundfunk” (external links)

http://www.echo-online.de/region/odenwaldkreis/brombachtal/Ueber-Kirchbrombach-zu-einer-besseren-Welt;art1268,4115897

http://www.echo-online.de/region/odenwaldkreis/brombachtal/Aus-Symbolik-erwaechst-Konkretes;art1268,4125851

http://www.echo-online.de/region/odenwaldkreis/michelstadt/Erlebnis-das-die-Sinne-schult;art1274,4133620

Youth in Action

For the seventh time the AYUDH youth initiative has been recognized by the European Union’s ‘Youth in Action’ programme. Over the years, AYUDH has been acknowledged as one of the best youth projects in Germany, which inspires a sense of active citizenship, solidarity and tolerance among young Europeans and involves them in shaping the Union’s future.

The initiative included youth from: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, UK, Ireland, Greece, Slovenia, Poland, India, Singapore, USA, Canada, and Lebanon.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.

This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Photos: https://plus.google.com/photos/105740774342436697409/albums/5906510767429714289


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