The first Global Conference on Neohumanist Education to be held in Caracas, Venezuela concluded with much inspiration and positive interactions among educators, social activists and project coordinators from South and North America and Europe. It was co-sponsored by the PROUT Institute in Caracas and Ananda Marga Gurukula. On Monday, April 14, more than 180 participants came to the science faculty auditorium at the largest and oldest educational institute in the country, the Universidad Central de Venezuela, for an all day program, to hear dynamic speakers from around the world. Presentations included cutting edge holistic educational initiatives that are taking place in Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, India, Venezuela and the United States. Professor Iraida Sulbaran of UCV and Dada Shambhushivananda, Chancellor of Ananda Marga Gurukula, gave the welcoming remarks. At the end of the program – beautiful printed certificates of attendance were given to all participants. Following this all day public event, interested educators attended a three day NHE seminar which was was held at the beautiful PROUT Institute in Caracas which is located near the Avila Mountains with a view of the whole city of Caracas.
The first day’s speakers were as follows:
1. Introduction to Neohumanist Education by Eric Jacobson, Director Progressive School of Long Island, NY, USA
2. Education in the Barrios (Sao Paolo, Brasil) – by Didi Ananda Jaya
3. Puppets in Education by Nora Manrique, Lecturer of Culture in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela
4. Neohumanist School, Caracas by Didi Ananda Amegha
5. Project Peru – by Didi Ananda Muktivrata
6. Project Porto Alegre by Edeliane Rios, and Fabricio L. Viana
7. Ecological and Community Education in Bogota, Colombia by Jorge Sanchez 8. The Transformative Power of Neohumanist Education by Dada Maheshvarananda, director of the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela 9. Plasticine in Education by Ricardo Saavedra
10. Ananda Marga Gurukula by Dada Shambhushivananda
11. Centro Madre Community Project in Barlovento, Venezuela by Didi Ananda Sadhana
12. Theater in the Classroom by Ole Brekke
13. Organic Agriculture Education in Venezuela by IUTY
14. Kaoshikii Dance by Didi Ananda Amegha
15. Meditation for Teachers by Mary Jane Glassman, director of Morning Star Neohumanist Preschool, Denver, Colorado, USA
16. Circular Dances by Dayse Do Santos
Following this one day program, fifty-two people attended the 3 day intensive seminar held at the Prout Institute. Seven Brazilian Neohumanist Schools in Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre sent representatives to this meeting, plus the preschool in Lima, Peru and of course the preschool in Caracas, Venezuela. The conference presented a unique opportunity for them all to meet and share their experiences. Presenters of workshops were Dada Shamhushivananda, Eric Jacobson, Mary Jane Glassman, Ole Brekke, Jorge Sanchez, Dada Maheshvarananda , Niliima, and Edelaine y Fabricio.
Dada Shambhushivananda’s introduction to Ananda Marga Gurukula was followed by a group envisioning of the future of Ananda Marga Gurukula through a “Grammar of Fantasy” workshop given by Ole Brekke. During this workshop pairs expanded their imaginations and using fantasy explored possible futures of Gurukula 500 years in the future, then 100 years in the future and then finally focused on the present exploring the possibilities for the global network of Gurukula today. Much fun and inspiration were enjoyed by all.
Presentations given during the week by Dada Shambhushivananda, Dada Maheshvarananda, Eric Jacobson, Ole Brekke and Mary Jane Glassman are included in this issue of Gurukula Network as separate articles. Evening programs included presentations of the projects of Didi Ananda Jaya, Didi Ananda Muktivrata, Didi Ananda Sadhana and Didi Ananda Amegha.
Much inspiration was shared during the closing ceremony. Here are two of the comments:
“One month before the conference I had a dream in which many people were dancing in an auditorium with the colors of the rainbow. When I saw the poster for this conference with the colors of the rainbow, I was very happy. And when at the end of the conference in the university auditorium we did circular dancing on the stage and then together sang the song, “Venezuela”, I realized that my dream had come true.”
“I am very grateful for the organizing staff, the support, the rich learning in the lectures, the wonderful food, the kiirtan, meditation and to meet everyone. I leave with great affection and memories of all.”
Complementary programs during week included a trip on April 7th with 70 people to the local Botanical Gardens where Shrii PR Sarkar had visited. Dada Shambhushivananda gave a public talk to 70 students and teachers at the International School, and to 50 students and professors at the Pedagogical Institute. A bus trip to visit Centro Madre Master Unit on Friday, April 18 had 30 participants. Ole Brekke gave a one-day clown workshop to 41 very enthusiastic participants on Saturday, April 19. Four radio interviews took place before the event, two on Venezuelan National Radio.