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Love and Light

National Youth Wing Meeting 2015: A Report

February 2015

It was a beautiful Sunday morning when all the office bearers and active members assembled in their respective wings such as service, spiritual, SSE and Bhagwan’s close –to-heart youth wing.

A sizeable group of active, excited and energetic willing youth assembled in the hall where the workshop for the youth wing started off in full swing.

It started off with Shyam Jamnadas, National Youth Co-ordinator, addressing the youth briefly followed by a quick but unconventional ice-breaker session during which each of us had to collect information about the rest of the youth members in the team to answer the questions given to us. Little did we realise that by the end of the 10 minute activity the synergy that was created through the interaction kept us rolling like a ball of positivity throughout the day’s activities.

With keeping in mind the two visions “Making our lives His message” and “Service to Man is Service to God” the youth participated in several activities that enabled us to demystify the path to achieve these two visions.

As it is commonly known a building gets stronger as the scaffoldings support it, so does the path to the future becomes clearer when the youth are made aware of the past happenings. Keeping this in mind our National Youth Coordinator articulately explained some major milestones achieved in the year 2014. This can be broadly categorised as follows:

a) Namasmarana – 3 youth-led Sai Smaran’s held across UK and musical offering in Prashanthi as a part of UK pilgrimage
b) Seva activities – Participating in Serve the Planet Refuge UK project, Narayan Seva for the homeless
c) YAP- 27 Young adults programme across UK on 9 point code of conduct
d) Exhibition – Conducting exhibition on Easwaramma day
e) Pilgrimage offering – A youth musical performance in Sai Kulwant hall

These and more were beautifully put together in the form of a musical audio visual presentation and all of us were glued to it from the start to the end. I should say it was one of the longest videos but definitely the best. It was so beautiful that it enticed all of the youth keeping us engrossed in it every second.

Less time was spent on past glories and focus quickly moved to the milestones we need to achieve on this beautiful 90th year of Swami’s presence.

We understood that the best way to find a solution is to address the challenges we face from the centre level moving up to regional levels

The key challenges that were addressed were as follows:

1. Youth participation in centre level activities
2. Communication gaps between adults and youth and how to resolve issues arising out of these gaps
3. How to keep the momentum going and achieve sustainability
4. How to further integrate the youth wings with the other wings such as Spiritual, SSE and Service

It goes without saying that the creative ideas exchanged amongst the youth were so well thought out and practical that it inspired each one of us to confidently take up tasks to achieve our higher objective as a team for the auspicious 90th year of Swami.

Ideas came snowballing - How youth-adult two-way communication can be enhanced, aligning youth’s talents towards centre objectives, empowering youth, conducting youth team building workshops etc.

Once we had relived the past, brainstormed the solutions for challenges and are all charged up with confidence we started the last but a wonderful activity - a breakout session to plan activities for the four-point objective. This being a very crucial part which once put into action will make us all proud that we as a team have lived this year as examples of His instruments , a year of our lives as His message.

The four-point objective is as follows:

1. To unite the Youth of UK via a National Youth Symposium (28th March 2015), in preparation to pre-world conference, Swami’s 90th Birthday, Christmas decorations in Prasanthi and 2016 International Youth Festival in Prasanthi.
2. To lead on Serve the Planet, focussing on food and children.
3. To continue and further integrate the Spiritual , SSE and Service wings
4. Conduct Young Adults Programmes (YAO) with the theme of “Love in Action”

We split into 4 different groups and put our thoughts together for an hour and came up with this exhaustive matrix in a flip chart and each group made their presentation to the rest of the youth.

The result – we were confident, focussed and full of energy to achieve the four point objective of His divine 90th year.

The ideas that came up were brilliant and reinstated all the youth the confidence and dedication we had together to achieve one simple goal – Sai’s instruments.

As we are all geared up to put our thoughts to actions to achieve these objectives I leave you with some brilliant ideas that came up in the four groups as a part of the workshop, written by a member from each group

Group 1

“The key ideas that were discussed were those centred around how to actively get involved into ‘Service” and how to organise activities as apart of SSE Youth initiatives. Many possible ideas were suggested and brainstormed e.g. such as visiting children in hospital during holiday periods, open up work healthy eating workshop for children, and participating in a buddy scheme for children. There were three main themes that were discussed and use to sub-categorize ideas: “The use of External Organisations” “Supporting the Transition of SSE students to Youth” and “The engagement of Youth leading up to/to the Youth Symposium”. After ideas were divided into a table, a list of possible “Actions” were written down, which included what would actively needed to be done; and who in order for these ideas to be tangible and enable them to take place. These were discussed by the group as a whole, and then presented to the rest of the Youth present at meeting.”
– Gary, Region3

Group 2

“After addressing the National objectives, Youth were split into 4 groups to discuss them and come up with ideas for following them through. With 2015 being the 90th year of Swami’s advent, it’s fitting that this year’s events and activities are centred around loving and serving whenever and wherever possible.

For the first time, the UK has been given the opportunity to decorate the Kulwant Hall for the Christmas celebrations in Prashanthi this year. Not all Youth will be able to attend the Pilgrimage, so we thought that we could make some Christmas decorations (possibly during the YAP sessions) to be taken to Prashanthi, allowing everyone to be involved even if they can’t be there for the actual celebrations. Also, in preparation for Swami’s 90th Birthday, each centre in the UK (there are 98, so smaller centres could join together) could offer a project/event in time for the National Birthday Celebrations, culminating in the 90th offering on the day of the programme.

Objectives 2, 3 and 4 are closely linked together, so we felt that similar steps could be taken towards achieving each one. Contacting local councils and charities and finding out exactly what they need would mean that we can provide them with support as required, and this can be extended to our ‘Serve the Planet’ initiative – as well as collecting items, food banks also need help transporting them to warehouses and sorting them out as necessary, and Refuge UK may have other oppurtunities for us to volunteer with them.

With service as the recurring theme, YAP sessions this year will be more practical rather than discussion based. They can be used to support new community service projects (e.g. tree planting, redecorating hospices, making hampers for Easter/Christmas), revive and maintain old projects undertaken within the Sai Organisation, and help out with Regional & National event planning and preparation. We can get other wings involved as well e.g. SSE children used ‘ceiling on desires’ to save up money to buy Easter Eggs to be donated to the hospitals last year”.
–Dhivyaa, Region 2

Group 3

a) Team building exercises in the form of surprise trips for the youth based on Sai’s teachings and principles. This will remain as a the foundation to bring synergy to work as a team for the National Youth Symposium and the International Youth Festival

b) Conducting YAP workshops not necessarily as an interactive discussion but in a more creative way that links service activities aligned to children such as visiting children’s hospitals, educating them etc.

c) Driving the youth of the centres by aligning their personal interests towards the main activities of the year – Christmas decorations in Prashanti and National Youth Symposium so their talents can be used by actively participating in the preparation of these activities

d) Aligning the youth’s talents towards a common goal such as slide presentation, a divine play or even a big seva event. This will prepare us collectively for the big day by also integrating with the other wings to get the best out of the talents to deliver what we aspire to deliver to make this year a successful one.

– Aneet, Region 3

Group 4

"Throughout and after lunch, the primary objective was to look forward to the coming year and ways of making it as positive as possible. We again split into groups and discussed how to communicate with external organisations, involvement of the SSE Wing, how to motivate people and the planning that needs to go with these aspects. Finally, each group presented their ideas to the whole group. Overall, I’d say that it was a very productive day with lots of promising ideas coming out of it. The Youth Wing looks ahead to an amazing 2015 with the grace of Swami!"

-Prahalad Nadella (Age 16), Region 5

This article would be incomplete if I did not complete by saying how wonderfully insightful the day was for all the youth that took part in this workshop

As a participant I could see the goldmine of potential the youth have in the form of brilliant ideas, energy, focus and dedication- its now time for us to put our thoughts to actions , time to deliver , time to make our lives His message

Jai Sai Ram

Aneet Govindarajan
Active Youth, Region 3