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.
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.
Numerous workshops were offered at the conference focusing on self-development and on one’s responsibility towards society and Mother Nature.
“Ripple of voices” offered 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.
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:
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.
The youth meet is incomplete without fun!!! And we definitely had a lot of it. Some of the highlights were:
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.