NHE Summit Report

Ydrefors, Sweden, JULY 17-25

Sponsored by Ananda Marga Gurukula

Hosted by CNS Sweden

In the heart of the silent and ever-fresh pine forest of the tiny village of Ydrefors our historic NHE summit unfolded for an exciting week. Participants started to arrive … many were coming ‘home ‘ to their cradle of the Training Centre where they had grown many years ago as sparkling emissaries of noble ideas. Others arrived for the first time. It was breathtaking to see them arrive from so far, Peru, Mongolia, Taiwan, Japan, Ghana, Congo, Australia, Indonesia, Venezuela, Malta, Syria, Israel, Haiti, Jamaica, USA, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and many European countries. It was a wonderful meeting of over 100 participants welcomed by the local hosts.

Facilities

Housing was provided at the CNS facilities, where daily meditations and delicious food kept all well nourished through the hard work of all the trainees of the Sweden Training Center . The daily summit programme took place at a well equipped conference hall, a five minute walk away through the magical Swedish woods, overlooking a beautiful lake. The conference hall provided ample space for the beautiful displays brought by all the participating schools of their projects and wares.

The Art Room


An art room was set up in a refurbished barn nearby, and displays from children’s art from NHE schools were mounted for all to see. The art room was managed by Didi Ananda Carushila and was open at all times for participants to enjoy creative expression and experimentation. Participants made a collective mandala, painted posters, painted bags, made an artistic wedding cake and enjoyed relaxing on late nights.

Opening Programme

Agneta Ottander, a lifetime resident of Sweden, welcomed us to her country and gave us an introduction to the rich history of the Swedish people and the progressive ideas that guide the country today. After hearing her presentation, Sweden felt like the perfect to place to be holding our first global NHE Summit. Our MC’s, Acharya Vishvamitra and Ole Brekke, Director of the Commedia School, then led us introductions. Each person paired with a partner they didn’t know, exchanged gifts and personal history, and then introduced each other to the group. By the end we all knew each other a whole lot better. This was followed by an overview of the NHE Movement, past, present and future, given by the AMGK coordinators and explained Gurukula’s role of weaving a garland of all NHE schools and facilitating all schools to work together to establish the NHE movement world wide.

Foundations of NHE

The afternoon of the first day was an in depth presentation of the “Foundations of Neohumanist Education”. This presentation highlighted the salient features of this unique system of education based on the vast panorama of philosophy, principles and practical guidance laid down by Shrii P. R. Sarkar the founder of NHE. The slide show, presented by Didi Anandarama, was a summary of the book “Foundations of NHE” which is now available on CD and which is in essence the main part of the NHE Diploma courses that are now offered by Gurukula. The first part of this presentation is included in this issue of Gurukula Network. The CD is available through thepublications page.

NHE Early Childhood

The next two days of the Summit were devoted to Early Childhood Education. Many of the sessions were preceded by half an hour ofPlaying with Theater activities led by Ole Brekke. Much fun was had by all.

 

“ A Spiritual Education for the Child’s Personality Development” , presented by Dada Caetanyananda, showed us a wonderful way of adjusting spiritual concepts for the public in a way that is easily understood and accepted. Dada is running a successful kindergarten and language school in Indonesia with 2500 children. He brought along a wealth of material that he shared with enthusiastic participants. A more detailed summary of Dada’s presentation is included in this issue of Gurukula Network.

 

Yolanda Koning, the director of the Zonnelicht School in Holland , elaborated on the early childhood programme for children ages 0 to 4 that she has been experimenting and researching with for over 18 years that now stands as an outstanding working model. She presented“Working with the Layers of Mind” an audiovisual presentation of the practical set up at Zonnelicht School and how it addresses the developmental stages of the child in a holistic and neohumanist way. Yolanda Koning is writing up her programme as a detailed curriculum required by the Dutch government, and in the future a translated version will made available through AMGK.



Practical Workshops
The next morning featured a choice of practical workshops

“Foreign Language Acquisition through Play Way Method” was an audio visual presentation by Didi Ananda Devapriya, principal of kindergartens in Bucharest , Romania , and her practical method for teaching a foreign language to young students. More details on this will be included in next issue of Gurukula Network.
“Yoga Choreography for All Ages” , by Didi Ananda Ragamaya, demonstrated a unique way of teaching yoga to children and young adults by combining music with movement. More details on this programme are included in this issue of Gurukula Network.Art for Teachers” This two hour workshop by Didi Ananda Carushila was held in the Art Room , which was well supplied with artistic materials of all kinds.


“Spontaneous Story Telling” , was a workshop given by Ole Brekke where teachers learned to make up stories on the spot, with a purpose. In this two hour session everyone learned to be a spontaneous story teller making up stories to serve their needs. More details on this workshop are included in this issue of Gurukula Network. 


Sharing Early Childhood Teaching Experiences 
In the afternoon of the second day, a panel of early childhood educators shared from their experiences teaching early childhood, and the discussion was then opened up to all summit participants. A lively discussion ensued and many questions were raised concerning NHE that were answered by subsequent speakers

Early Childhood Evening Programmes

On the early childhood days, the evenings provided entertaining multimedia presentations by several kindergarten projects: from the Philippines , Australia , Romania , India , Israel , Ghana , Brazil , Denmark , Venezuela , Sweden and Taiwan . The projects ranged from very low income areas to well-established developed communities but the soul in each project was wonderful present and vibrant. Didi Ananda Ragamaya facilitated a songs evenings and entertained all with an evening of her songs and songs from different countries.
NHE Primary Schools 
The next two days of the Summit were
devoted to Primary School Education.
“Directing an NHE School” – Eric Jacobson, the director of PSOLI (Progressive School of Long Island) presented from his experience of developing and directing an NHE school for 21 years focusing on implementing Neohumanism in all aspects of the school. With his teachers he compiled a teacher’s guide book that was made available at the summit. With his effective practical methods he fascinated and inspired all the participants. A summary of his first presentation is included in this issue of Gurukula Network. The PSOLI manual is for sale by AMGK. See the publications page for details.
“Ananda Marga Riverschool’s Journey of 12 Years” was an audiovisual presentation by Prabha Demasson, deputy director of the Ananda Marga River School, Australia. This delightful presentation of River School ‘s journey showed how she helped to start and to bring this school to it’s current very successful state. Prabha will be writing down all her long years of experiences as a director, programme designer and trainer of teachers together with Tara, a teacher from River School who came with Prabha to the Summit .
Maria Consolaci’on Garcia P’erez , a Spanish volunteer (LFT) working in Haiti, presented the two Primary Schools in Haitithat together serve a total of 900 children. In addition, community service projects have been operating with the help of funding agencies. Among these projects is a newly funded community project that will establish two new schools in the near future and will include a model community outreach programme to serve the local community and government run schools in the form of teacher training and curriculum support. To start with invited newly graduated teachers will attend 4 weekend seminars and receive training in NHE. They then will work not only in the NHE schools but also train teachers in public schools. The NHE projects in Haiti have been chosen as global projects of AMGK. The idea is for us to look at the unfolding projects in Haiti as examples to emulate and multiply in other parts of the world.
Panel and Sustainable Schools 
The afternoon of the second Primary day featured a short panel summarizing the agreed upon direction of NHE schools, followed by an exercise of identifying the most important points for sustainable schools. The six winning points were: 1. stable management solid administration and financial structure, 2. spiritual training of teachers, 3. legal accreditation, 4. maintenance of relationships with parents and needs of community, 5. NHE philosophy in a locally relevant curriculum, 6. progressive dynamism.

Primary and Projects Evening Programmes

The Primary evenings were again filled with delightful presentations of primary schools: the beautiful school in the lap of nature – Vistara Primary School in Australia, the London Sunrise School run by Meeta, the longest standing school amongst all from Ananda Marga Primary School, Hyderabad, India which was visited by Shrii P R.Sarkar in the early days and recent schools in Thailand, Congo, Taiwan and Mongolia. The last two evenings featured presentations by various projects from around the world: CNS Croatia, YES Portugal , Greece , Malta , Syria , CNS Asheville and Romanian children’s homes.
Open Space Meetings 
Open Space Meeting day provided an opportunity for small group meetings.
Topics included:
ELF, YES, STUVOL, and Social Justice Programs
The Varnas in Teaching
Infant Education
Management and Evaluation Process
Rainbow School Methods
Wedding 
We even had a wedding ! A Gurukula staff member, Michele Montenegro from Holland and Masako Fujikura from Japan had their beautiful spiritual wedding during the Summit , enjoyed by all. Congratulations to them.Communications Workshop 
Ac. Vishvamitra gave a well-received workshop on communication skills that was very much appreciated by all participants. He offered powerful, introspective tools for strengthening social links and for healing on the personal level.
Closing Programme The closing programme included the graduation of the Early Childhood Diploma Programme graduates, Didi Ananda Ragamaya and Didi Ananda Gaorii. More about their graduation is included in this issue of Gurukula Network.
Certificates of affiliation to AMGK were awarded to the River School School of Australia , Ananda Marga Preschool in Taiwan , Sunrise Preschool of Australia, and eight schools under the supervision of Didi Ananda Carushiila in the Philippines .Tara, from the River School in Australia led the entire group in aclosing ceremony where two spiraling lines were formed by all participants forming a pathway down which each participant passed in turn and was honored and thanked by all the others who were all the while singing. It was a beautiful and uplifting ceremony enjoyed by all.
After opening the floor to all participants to share their visions for the future of the NHE Movement, Kulapati of Gurukula, Dada Shambhushivananda brought the Summit to a close with some concluding remarks. All participants received Certificates of Participation that they could use for continuing education credits in their field.
Many thanks to our hosts and to the trainees of the Sweden Training Center for all their hard work preparing for the conference and taking care of everyone’s needs for the entire week

 

Comments from Attendees:

“I had the feeling that this was a landmark meeting – to have so many minds working together toward the same goal, to witness so much progress and to see the high standard being achieved was very inspiring. I feel we are entering an entirely new phase in the development of NHE, so much more coordinated. Still groundwork is being done, and still we are in a pioneering phase, but slowly a map and compass is emerging and that will help broaden the path so more can join our NHE movement.”

“As a current educator in a school that is isolated by distance, this has helped to bridge the gap, given me an avenue for networking and inspired me beyond my expectations. Thank you.”

“The most inspiring for me was to have so many people from all corners of the world and to get know the projects and how NHE is developing wherever they are. It has been a unique gathering of educators of all kinds and the connection between us (ie NHE) gave dynamism to all parts of the program. It was useful to exchange ideas, inspiration, doubts, struggles and have the opportunity to brainstorm for solutions. To see so much positive work going on was both inspiring and humbling.”

“I was extremely inspired to see the amazing work and dedication of all the people and the projects. I was/ am inspired that this summit was arranged. I think it is a great start and I think it will keep growing. I am looking forward to seeing that. I was benefited by hearing others’ experiences and by being able to share. I take home with me a strong desire to spread NHE. Thank you, great job!”

“A truly inspiring and needed program. The scope of application of Neohumanism goes beyond spirituality. In fact it is the container of spirituality. I learned to sharpen and improve my effectiveness in teaching Neohumanism. I got a lot of clarity on Goal and Methodology and will be able to apply it to my field.”

“This was the most focused clear and productive seminar event I have been to in many years. The work being done in NHE for the last few years has been the most inspiring of any collective work I see being done. …. This work stands like a beacon light. The inspiration to contribute to NHE and to move ahead in other collective areas is the greatest and most beneficial result that I am leaving with. And besides that, I thoroughly enjoyed the satsaunga, location and presentations very deeply and sincerely. I thank you for your work and I hope to see it replicated. …”

“I can honestly say that this was a very blissful week for me. I was inspired by all the people I met from around the world and the projects in action. The workshops helped me think more deeply about what it means to be a neohumanist teacher and how the philosophy can manifest itself in a school and curriculum…”

Thank you to Angel Molina and Beatriz Olarreaga for all the photos in this article.
More of their photos and a video prepared by Didi Sananda are available at:http://www.gurukul.edu/conf2006/conference2006.htm.