Get pumped. 

As we gear up for The Ripple Effect 2016: One World. One Home. lets look back at the all the fun we had in 2015.

The Ripple Effect 2015: August 6-9, M.A. Center Chicago

Yet again it was time for the AYUDH Americas family to come together for the second Annual Youth Conference – TheRippleEffect 2015. Held at M.A. Center Chicago, the conference had attendees from North and South Americas, India, Japan and Turkey. Themed “The change begins with me”, the summit focused on self-development and offered inspirational talks, interactions/discussions, workshops, nature walks, yoga, meditation, bhajans and fun activities. The event also initiated three long term projects for the year 2015-16. The AYUDHians created the ripples for the year of service to come.

Inspirational talks and discussions

The youth met at the Kane County Government Center with Chairman Chris Lauzen, former senator of the State of Illinois and current Chairman of the Kane County Board. Chairman Lauzen interacted with every participant individually and inspired the youth with his talk focused on self-reliance. He answered many questions put forth by the youth regarding government policies, personality development, service to the community etc.

Dr. Jane Goodall, world renowned primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist and UN Member of Peace sent the participants a short video message. She highlighted that she was happy to learn about AYUDH Projects this year and how they aligned with the Dr. Jane Goodall Institute and Roots and Shoots program. She ended her message with a greeting all the way from Barcelona in form of very cute primate call which lightened everyone up.

There were talks and interactive sessions with Br. Dayamrita Chaitanya, Br. Shantamrita Chaitanya and Br. Ramanand. The sessions were focused on spiritual principles on self-development and selfless service – an opportunity for the youth to understand Amma’s teachings.

 

Workshops

Numerous workshops were offered at the conference focusing on self-development and on one’s responsibility towards society and Mother Nature.

 Ripple of voicesoffered by Ruth Mendelson, renowned music composer, director and producer and professor at Berklee School of Music was a highlight of the retreat. The workshop underlined how even small contributions made by people can make a big difference. Elucidating it with her long time experience in societal benefit projects, she inspired one and all. The participants then grouped up to produce voice post cards to be sent to youth around the world who are effected by adverse situations like calamities and wars.

The workshop “Power of positivity” by Arianne Shimanoff, a fellow AYUDHian and life coach brought together the youth to assess their personal goals for the year. The participants went on to create growing goals set at one, three, six months and a year. The workshop underlined the need of positive thinking in facing situations in life. The exercises and activities helped participants learn to tackle the fears their fears with positive thinking.

This workshop was complemented by psychotherapist Peter Grube’s “Our inner dialogues”. The workshop provided the participants tools to believe in one’s self when facing situations in life, tackling the inner critique. The participants had a fun time enacting which addressed the confusing situations youth face in life.

Practical workshops provided participants with hands on experience in various green initiatives.

  • Preparing Echinacea Tincture – The participants were trained on preparing Echinacea tincture. They trained in extraction from Echinacea roots and in the preparation process of the tincture.
  • Saving Monarch butterflies from extinctionParticipants were enlightened to the important role monarch butterflies play in preserving biodiversity. AYUDHians were trained on how to help monarch butterflies thrive by preparing homes for caterpillars and harvesting milkweed to help monarch butterflies feed on.
  • Bird house building – AYUDHians were educated about Blue Birds, a species of major concern due to their increasing loss of habitat. In order to tackle this issue head on youth were trained in building bird houses from scratch. They then set up the houses around the beautiful M.A. Center campus.
  • Tree planting and care – AYUDH pledged to not only plant trees, but take care of them. In addressing the need of tree maintenance, retreat participants were educated on how to provide good care to the trees. In this way, AYUDH efforts could be sustained.

 

Initiatives for 2015-2016

One of the main objective of the annual youth meet is to discuss and initiate the projects for the following year. We initiated three projects for the year 2015-16:

  • AYUDH Change: Mindful Spending
    • Focusing on consumption with awareness AYUDH decided to pledge fixed amount of change on a weekly basis for education of underprivileged children in Haiti, Philippines, Kenya and India. Fundraising initiatives are planned at individual and AYUDH chapter levels.
  • AYUDH Nurturing Nature: Sustaining Our Natural World      
    • Every AYUDH Americas chapter has pledged to distribute 108 saplings along with the training material to plant and care for them
    • Every AYUDH Americas chapter has pledged to process 50 trash bags of waste, aiming at the overall objective of at least one ton of waste management
  • AYUDH Serve: Preventing Hunger and Waste
    • Every AYUDH chapter pledged to serve at least 250 meals at soup kitchens, aiming for 1008 meals for the chapters of bigger size
    • Every AYUDH chapter pledged for a monthly project of collecting excess food from an identified store and transporting it to a shelter or food pantry

Spiritual principles and activities

Along with workshops and practical training segments of the youth conference, self-development requires inculcating spiritual principles too. The participants benefitted every day from meditation and Amrita Yoga sessions with Br. Sanjith, nature walks, bhajans, early morning Archana chanting, formal and informal spiritual discussions, etc.

 

Fun, fun and more fun!!!

The youth meet is incomplete without fun!!! And we definitely had a lot of it. Some of the highlights were:

  • Ice breaker games
  • Evening basketball, soccer, cricket, kickball
  • Nightly bonfires filled with jokes, stories, personal experiences, smores
  • Open air movie night
  • Holi Color fight: AYUDHians jumped into their inner joy by forgetting all their worries in an all out color WAR

 

Webcast with Amma

In a grand surprise, the youth got a chance to briefly facetime with Amma as she was giving darshan in Amritapuri, the international headquarters of Embracing the World. The few minutes with Amma changed the whole mood of the retreat, something the participants will cherish for a long time.