On the last weekend of February in New Vraja Mandala ISKCON temple in Spain the first European ISKCON Youth Leaders meeting was organized. 35 ISKCON devotees from 25 European countries gathered for three days to overview the existing and future possibilities to help young devotees to develop their full potential, and opportunities within the existing Erasmus+ framework.
The main speakers presented their reports and visions about youth integration in ISKCON, skills and qualities of leaders, history of EU-commission funding, the existing structure of networking and cooperation between European ISKCON temples, projects of the nearest future, the goals of ISKCON Youth Ministry.
Yadunandana Swami gave the first inspirational speech about the need for care of youth.
Kamala Priya Dasi (Sweden) spoke about existing ISKCON youth programs, the particular qualities of new generation youth, the need for new non-formal education and materials, values and life skills to be trained, need for structural and organizational help, and visions about National Youth Forums in Europe. “We have to understand, that our children, our youth, they are also part of the general society, and they can contribute as devotees to society at large. It will be good for them, good for the people, and good for ISKCON,” Kamala Priya Dasi stated.
Tattvavada Das (Finland) touched questions about the main duties and 14 qualities of a leader as given by Srila Prabhupada, the original concept of strategic planning in three levels, and what shastra says about social media. “The two main duties of a leader are (1) to be inspired and to inspire others, and (2) to protect others on five levels (physical, emotional, social, knowledge and spiritual).” ”Shatras are also instructing us about social dealings: (1) knowledgeably, when and how it should be done, considering risks and results, and (2) not going alone to the masses of materialistic people, but in groups or couples and with awareness what are some most meant for.” “Do not mix strategy with tactics & technics.” “Krishna gives guarantee that His leadership models will work forever”, Tattvavada Das inspired.
The leaders of EuProNet (European Project Network) Jara Mara Hari Das (Spain), Prema Rasarnava Das (Spain), Baladeva Das (Slovenia) and György Kirs (Hungary) presented the benefits of cooperation with EU-commission funding, different service and job opportunities within these projects, and concordance of aims of ISKCON Youth ministry with European youth programs. For example, the European Solidarity Corps projects could support the programs of KC Gap Year Experience.
Manorama Das, ISKCON Youth Minister, connected with European youth leaders via Skype, and answered questions related to his vision of development of youth programs in ISKCON. He assured European devotees of support with needed educational materials, and expressed his gratitude for their endeavors, “The main theme for us is to create opportunities for young to get inspired to the point, where they want to become devotees of Krishna. Do not take it for granted, and do not assume that just because someone grew up in Hare Krishna movement they will make that decision. They have to come to the point of making decision on their own, and when they make it – that is what we are meant for. For that to happen there should be a lot of love, a lot of compassion, kindness and tolerance from the very beginning to get them to that point.”
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