The Ripple Effect 2017: Create-Sustain-Engage

This year AYUDH is calling on individuals to serve as living examples of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals through a simple method: creating responsible lifestyles, sustaining these solutions, and engaging one another to impart meaningful change.

Join us August 2nd-6th at MA Center Chicago. 



Join those ages 15-30 from around the world in a four day meet of learning, inspiration, and exchange. AYUDH’s Annual Youth Summit – The Ripple Effect. This year, AYUDH youth take responsibility for the future of our planet. Empowered, we will find common ground in the understanding that not only do the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) belong to everyone, but also that this change must begin with us. We will unite through a shared vision of sustainable living, with initiatives that invoke lasting impacts and resonate a profound sense of responsibility in all. Applications are now open. 

At AYUDH, we believe that personal transformation lies at the heart of lasting change. Therefore, in addition to cultural, social, political and ecological perspectives, we also consider a spiritual dimension when addressing the main themes of the Summit. The teachings of spiritual leader and humanitarian Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) form an important part of this reflection.  

I. Create

We believe that innovative solutions can only be found when youth are given the opportunity to explore and invent upon their most creative notions. A full day of the summit will be dedicated to tapping into these talents & capabilities, which are far too often overlooked. The summit will provide a space youth to collaborate on their most promising ideas for a better world. 

II. Sustain

We believe that initiatives only become valuable if they can sustain themselves throughout time. As part of our dedication to the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, AYUDH plans all of its initiatives carefully so that they may sustain themselves. For us, this means an initiative goes beyond a single goal. Our initiatives should be able to answer multiple aspects of the Sustainable Development Agenda, while simultaneously reaching far and wide. AYUDH will spend a day dedicated to understanding how our projects can become more sustainable in social service, green solutions, intercultural exchange, and personal empowerment. 

III. Engage

We believe that initiatives only become powerful if they are able to engage the world. With this, AYUDH calls on all of its members this year to think creatively in how to engage those around us in these initiatives, regardless of religion, caste, creed, or age. We hope to work inter-generationally and internationally to implement the solutions we find most applicable. AYUDH will dedicate one day of the summit to learn from one another and our inspirational leaders of change in how to make our initiatives more engaging. 

Bringing The Youth Voice To The Global Scene

We are excited to announce our Youth Parliament, taking place August 5th during The Ripple Effect 2017- Create. Sustain. Engage. The parliament will allow youth from around the world to come together and discuss the largest issues of their time— surrounding three Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) they deem most vital to focus on in the 2017-2018 AYUDH working year.

Here we will hear from some of the largest innovators of social change – our select panelists from all over the world. The parliament will conclude with an AYUDH declaration, with resolutions for the year and specific projects to be undertaken. Read more about the panelists below.


Meet Our Speakers

Nicol Perez, Current US Youth Observer to the United Nations

Nicol Perez is the 2016/2017 US Youth Observer to the United Nations. As Youth Observer, Nicol represents the voices of young Americans at the United Nations. In her role, Nicol works to engage young people around the country in the sustainable development goals by speaking with young people in various conferences, universities, communities and online. Nicol graduated from the University of Florida (UF) where she was president of Nourish International, a student-run, non-profit organization that works towards making a sustainable impact on communities around the world. During her time at UF, Nicol spearheaded a project in Guatemala City, alongside 3 other students, where they taught business classes to a group of 50 single mothers living in extreme poverty and provided them with the tools and skills needed to start their own businesses. At UF, Nicol co-founded the Global Leadership Program where elected students spent a semester leading business ventures around campus to raise money to start a Goat farm in Uganda. Later, Nicol studied abroad in Bangkok, Thailand where she volunteered with the Mechai Viravaidya Foundation for a semester. Upon graduation, Nicol received an Outstanding Leadership Award for her work in Guatemala. After college, Nicol lived in Maastricht, The Netherlands, where she worked with students and community leaders to start a community house and business incubator. Later, Nicol moved to New York City and completed the Emerging Leaders program at Nielsen. There, she rotated under the Public Development and Sustainability vertical and worked with global non-profits to help measure the impact of their social initiatives. Nicol was also a part of the United Nations Association’s Young Professionals Program. She served as the VP of Technology and Innovation for the Economic Development Committee, for which she planned and executed events that foster awareness, dialogue, and support for the work of the United Nations. Nicol currently resides in San Francisco, California, where she is also a Product Marketing and Communications associate at Instagram.

Malvika Iyer, Award-Winning Disability Rights Activist

A bilateral amputee from a freak bomb blast in 2002, Malvika Iyer is an Award winning Disability Rights Activist who is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Social Work. She is an International Motivational Speaker, a TEDx Speaker, a member of the United Nations IANYD’s Working Group on Youth and Gender Equality, a Model for Accessible Fashion and a Global Shaper at the Global Shapers Community (an initiative of the World Economic Forum). She is an Advocate for Inclusion and Gender. Her work has been recognized widely, including an honor from the President of India- Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, a standing ovation for her motivational speech at the United Nations, and the ‘Women In The World’ Emerging Leader Award in New York. She has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles and books, even finding a place among the 100 Change Agents and Newsmakers of the Decade. 

Donya Nasser, Former US Youth Observer to the United Nations

Donya Nasser recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. John’s University where she studied Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies as an Honors student and McNair Scholar. She is passionate about advocating for gender equality and reproductive justice on both a domestic and international level; empowering women, youth, and minorities to become civically engaged and run for office, and contributing to Middle East policy while combating stigmas and stereotypes. She has interned for the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, the Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, and the Brennan Center for Justice. 

Donya served as the 2015-2016 U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations and a Truman-Albright Fellow at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She is currently the youngest Board Director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Board. She is a 2016 Humanity in Action Fellow, 2015 TRIALS Scholar, and 2014 PPIA Fellow. She has previously served as a member of the Advocates for Youth Young Women of Color Leadership Council, the President of the College Democrats of New York, and  AAUW Youth Representative to the United Nations. A Truman Scholar, she intends to pursue a joint degree and prepare herself for a career in public service and foreign affairs so to be in a position to better serve women and underrepresented communities across the country and the world. She has supported these marginalized groups through her academic successes, leadership advancements, and social media opportunities.

Donya believes in the power of galvanizing younger generations, who embody the potential of our future to secure equality and justice for all. She is a 2016 Bustle Upstart Award Honoree, 2015 recipient of the WIN Young Women of Achievement Award in Service/Nonprofit Advocacy, and a 2014 Glamour Magazine Top 10 College Woman and L’Oréal College Woman of Worth. She has been featured on ABC, Al-Hurra, Al Jazeera, the Huffington Post, the L.A. Times, MSNBC, and Voice of America. She was named one of CDS’ 2016 “30 Under 30 Leaders of Tomorrow” and Persian Tech Entrepreneurs and Forbes’ “100 Most Influential Persian Entrepreneurs and Innovators of 2015”. She has been a speaker for the Iranian American Women Foundation, the International Association for Volunteer Effort, AYUDH, the United Nations, and many more conferences. Donya is currently attending SOAS, University of London as a recipient of both the John Loiello and Kamran Djam Scholarships to earn an MA in Iranian Studies.

Lucia Rijker, Professional female boxer, kickboxer, and actress

Rijker started her martial arts career at the early age of six, when she began training in judo. A year later, she was part of the Dutch National Softball Team.  At fourteen, after picking up fencing a year earlier, Lucia became the Netherlands Junior Champion of that sport. When she was fifteen she began kickboxing and knocked out the reigning American kickboxing champion, Lily Rodriguez. Rijker eventually amassed a 36-0 (25 KO) record as a kickboxer, and won four different world titles, along her fifth, most notable and informal “World’s Most Dangerous Women” title. Rijker’s immense experience gives way to inspiring talks that she delivers all around the world. 

Br. Ramanand, Director, AYUDH Americas

Br. Ramanand is the director of AYUDH Americas. A a long time monastic disciple of Amma, Br. Ramanand met her at the tender age of 3, and has had the good fortune of growing up at Amma’s ashram from a very young age. Alongside his role in AYUDH, Br. Ramanand directs Amma’s organizations and its activities in the eastern US and Canada. He travels around the US and Canada conducting satsangs in various cities and delivers talks at Universities to share Amma’s message of selfless service and love. He has written and composed many devotional songs (bhajans) and his melodious voice can often be heard alongside Amma’s during many bhajans. Br. Ramanand is a PhD graduate in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, College Park, and his talks, usually conveyed humorously, are very inspiring and uplifting.

Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, Senior Monastic Disciple of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi

Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri, a senior monastic disciple of Amma met Her first more than 30 years ago. With characteristic wit and lively examples, Swamiji has a captivating way of sharing his experiences and profound spiritual insights, gleaned from over three decades of life as a disciple. He met Amma in 1978 and soon after came to live at her ashram in India.

He has been traveling around the globe with Amma since her first world tour in 1987. These days, he spends most of his time visiting Amma’s ashrams and centers around the world; leading retreats, giving discourses, conducting yoga and meditation classes, and organizing the many disaster relief and charitable activities of the organization.

Br. Shantamrita Chaitanya, Director, M.A. Centers Central USA

Born and raised in the USA, Br. Shantamrita Chaitanya met Amma in 1990. He became a Brahmachari (monk) in her Indian Monastery in 1993 and has been engaged in Amma’s social, educational and spiritual activities around the world ever since. He was based in Tokyo for ten years as Director of M.A. Center Japan, primarily active in East Asia, the Pacific Rim and Africa until 2012. Since then, he has been based in MA Center Chicago, conducting regular spiritual and social service programs there, and inspiring spiritual seekers throughout the central US with his heartfelt talks. 

We are pleased to welcome renowned humanitarian leaders, activists and high level institutional representatives to ‘Create. Sustain. Engage’. Among the speakers and panelists will be Nicol Perez, current US Youth Observer to the United Nations, Donya Nasser, former US Youth Observer to the United Nations, Malvika Iyer, Award Winning Disability Rights activist, Br. Dayamrita Chaitainya, Br. Shantamarita Chaitanya, and Br. Ramanand (senior disciples of Amma).


Several speakers are yet to be confirmed. Please check back here for updates!


As always, we will be providing a space to develop creative skills, to explore new ways of working with our bodies and to expand our awareness of our minds and their interactions with the outside world. 

The summit features workshops in engineering and design, computer coding and website development, soap-making, spoken word-poetry, music, DJ-ing, painting, mariachi performance, environmentally sustainable initiatives, nature walks, yoga, and meditation. In the past two years, we have hosted interactive sessions by keynote speaker and movie-maker Jeff Robinov (ex-president of Warner Brothers & current CEO of Studio 8), world-renowned female boxer Lucia Rijker, actress and trick rope artist Kansas Carradine, professors from the Berkeley School of Music, and more.  These activities will take an experiential learning approach, focusing on collaborative work, and will be led by professional facilitators. You will not be required to sign up for these sessions in advance!

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