Over 175 youth from all over North, South and Central America gathered for AYUDH America’s 6th annual international youth summit The Ripple Effect 2019: World Peace Through Inner Peace, from July 31st - August 4th, at MA Center Chicago in Elburn, IL. These five days united young people from all walks of life, from students to young professionals, in an international summit emphasizing the theme “World Peace Through Inner Peace.” Here youth learned to harness inner strength, self love, and awareness as the first steps in achieving a peaceful community through discussions with renowned leaders of social change, initiative building and project development workshops at the annual AYUDH Americas Youth Parliament, and activities emphasizing community, spirituality, service, and mindfulness.
The days began with an emphasis on developing inner strength through Amrita Yoga, IAM meditation, and prayers for world peace before transitioning to a packed day of guest-speakers, workshops, and team-building activities integrated with a four day Youth Parliament, a forum for young motivated agents of change to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals while developing professional skills in project development, innovation, leadership, and project pitching.
The afternoons consisted of hands on skills workshops such as Professional Development with Microsoft Solutions Architect, Siddartha Rabindran, a viewing and panel discussion of the educational documentary “Straws” with Climate Change Leader, Jessica Robinson, a music workshop with composer Jeremy Belzer, and more. Activities and workshops also included music production, dart painting, indigo farming, and a basketball tournament. These hands on activities were followed by group sports, outdoor projects, and fun community activities before devotional singing, prayers for world peace, and more nighttime community activities including icebreaker games, a bonfire, and talent shows. It was in these moments that participants came together as an AYUDH family, forming lifelong friendships as well as lasting educational and professional connections.
AYUDH participants had the unique opportunity to work side-by-side with esteemed leaders of social change. Inspired by their life stories and professional quests to make profound impacts on building bridges of peace across humanity and for the health of the planet, AYUDH was honored to host panelists which included:
Ralph Chami, the Assistant Director of the International Monetary Fund, he spent most of his career supporting fragile states in the middle east; however more recently, he has shifted his focus to the environmental and financial implications of whales.
Chris Caren, CEO of TurnItIn, who spoke from hi keeping inner peace in today’s busy world.
Siddartha Rabindran, Microsoft Solutions Architest, who led youth through professional development activities and Q&As
Jessica Jane Robinson, who was formerly an Al Gore climate leader. She is deeply invested in the wellbeing of her hometown of Alameda, which is threatened by rising sea levels. She is the creator of the grassroots program “Miss Alameda Says Compost”, and uses her performance art background to reach today’s youth and raise awareness about climate change.
Diya Heal spearheaded the greening Amma’s 2019 summer tour, working to reduce waste, facilitating composting and recycling, and promoting a culture of sustainability.
Jeremy Belzer, music composer, who led AYUDH through multiple music making and production activities featuring upcycled materials found at the MA Center Chicago.
Br. Ramanand, director of AYUDH and spiritual director of MA Center in the Eastern US.
Br. Dayamrita Chaitanya, the executive director of M.A. Centers. He travels the country giving spiritual talks, counseling Satsang members, and answering questions.
Br. Shantamrita Chaitanya, the director of M.A. Center in Central US. He resides at the M.A. Center in Chicago, conducting regular spiritual and social service programs and inspiring spiritual seekers throughout the central US.
Annual Youth Parliament
Each year, the AYUDH Youth Parliament provides a space for participants to rekindle their excitement for service to the world and engage with a community of motivated youth, mentors, and peers. The annual summit culminates in specially crafted projects to be undertaken by 16+ city and university chapters throughout the Americas. The Youth Parliament is a special time for AYUDH youth to come together and discuss issues most vital to them. AYUDH Americas participants pride themselves in their dedicated grass-roots efforts to implement change in local communities.
Each year, youth engage with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, choose three goals and three dedicated projects that each chapter will focus on in the coming year. This year, AYUDH delegates formed ten teams that were each challenged to develop an original project that they would create, plan logistics, and pitch to a panel of development experts, finally to be voted on by the panel and AYUDH Americas at large. Three hours each day were dedicated solely to project innovation; nevertheless, throughout the summit, teams could be seen passionately pouring their creative efforts into developing their projects at any free moment. Participants decided to focus on SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation and SDG 13: Climate Action, and the finalist projects chosen by the summit are:
AYUDH Reuse and Restore: AYUDH will clean up beaches and highways and upcycle reusable materials such as glass bottles and aluminum cans to reduce waste found in water and work towards zero waste.
AYUDH Revitalize: AYUDH will host interactive workshops to raise awareness about the practice of reutilizing food waste by turning it into compost in an effort to significantly reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.
AYUDH Purify: AYUDH will raise awareness about the dangers of pharmaceuticals contaminating our water supply, soil, and vegetation. Deterra drug deactivation bags©️ will be distributed by AYUDH members to educate their community about proper medication disposal.
National Youth Camp
Alongside the AYUDH activities, AYUDH also hosted its second annual kids camp. The camp, open to those aged 5-13, will engage children in value and spiritually based discussions, interactions with Amma's monastic disciples, arts and sports, game-based learning of values, interaction with the AYUDH youth and mentors, representation during the annual youth parliament organized by AYUDH and lots of fun. The camp brought together kids from all over the country to inculcate a sense of responsibility in children, while educating them on the role they can play for the betterment of society. On the 3rd night of the summit, the children put on a talent show for the older AYUDH participants. The talent show included special dance performances, a rap about “World Peace through Inner Peace” (followed by a much demanded mic drop) and a play put together by the entire group. AYUDH cheered the little ones on, and the night ended on an incredible high note, particularly for the children.
Ending on a High Note
On the last night of the summit, many participants performed for the final AYUDH talent show. The acts were incredibly varied, ranging from Bhangra-Hip Hop fusion, to jazz performances, to traditional Nigerian folk songs. The acts drew a full house of AYUDH participants, children’s camp participants, and local residents alike.
The sixth annual AYUDH Youth Summit was a revitalizing time for all 200+ people involved in making this life-changing experience possible, from the many volunteers who came from all over the country, to the young children who came excited to join their AYUDH mentors, to the speakers and expert panelists fighting for change to uplift the planet, to the musicians bringing people together through song, and finally, to the youth who came with the dream of making a difference in their local community.
Living the example of finding inner peace through love and service towards world peace, all played a tremendous role in making this life-changing summit one of growth, introspection, and upliftment of humanity and mother nature. Inspired by the stories of innovation of the guest speakers, the dedication of their peers and teammates, and the selflessness of the volunteers and community members, AYUDH Summit participants enter the coming year energized and excited to implement the three new initiatives and spread their sense of inner peace to the world. Follow our progress and stay tuned for updates on Facebook and Instagram.