The Auroville International meeting 2005, which officially took place from January 14 to 18, brought a broad range of interesting presentations and discussions between AVI members and Auroville groups and individuals. The speech of Sraddhalu at the opening session beautifully set the tone for the whole meeting. To quote just two sentences: "Those of you who live elsewhere in the world but are part of this consciousness, are also living in Auroville. What you do there, the way you live, the way you think, has its effect on the world as if you were here, has its effect on situations here, because you´re part of the consciousness and for this consciousness distance doesn´t matter." Whereas in former years we often met with a "one has to live here in order to understand" what Sraddhalu expressed was the overall spirit in which we were welcomed this time - and we are very grateful for that! Perhaps it is no coincidence that our meeting started at the Pongal weekend, maybe we also could bring in a kind of harvest from many years of trust-building, fruitful co-operation.
Pongal brought another special treat for us: Aurelio took us to the Mohanam Cultural Center in Sanjeevi Nagar, showed us around this beautifully reconstructed Tamil house and explained his admirable work to engage village youth in preserving their own rich culture. Later we were invited to a traditional Tamil lunch in the beautiful coconut grove next to the Cultural Center . After lunch we were presented with a beautiful dance performance by the Mohanam girls´ dance group and with a very charming theatre performance, a scene from the Mahabharata, with young men acting and village elders reciting and playing their drums. This was truly a highlight for many of us!
To mention some major program points: We were taken to a tour around Matrimandir and were updated on the plans of the Matrimandir team to finish all construction works within the next two years. On another occasion representatives from the main Auroville schools, kindergarten and other SAIIER initiatives gave us an insight into their impressing spectrum of activities. Some of us followed the invitation to the very charming, well-prepared presentation of those 8 Future School kids who are presently attending a conference in Mexico . Extremely uplifting was a presentation by Kathy about the manifold activities and contacts of AVIS ( Auroville Volunteering, Internships & Studies programs), also in the field of education on Human Unity and International Understanding. A full day was reserved for discussions with the International Zone group in the Unity Pavilion. Future co-operation should be intensified, the International Zone being seen as one of the main grounds for AVI involvement in Auroville´s development. The Saturday night cultural program, skilfully moderated by Wim, the dance to world music under the stars was a highly appreciated change to the many hours we spent in meetings.
To round up the official part of the meeting we had a session with members of the Working Committee and Auroville Council to talk about future communication and co-operation. We are confident that the contents and outcome of this meeting will be communicated to the newly appointed members of these two bodies.
Parallel to these interactions with Auroville we had our internal AVI meetings and annual General Assembly with the election of a new AVI board. Also a new team of Auroville representatives to AVI was nominated which consist of Kathy, Tine and Lella, Kathy being the main coordinator.
Actually the AVI meeting was extended by several follow-up presentations and invitations from different Auroville groups. Only to mention a few: Joss took us to an environmental outpost in the Kaluveli Tank Region, a secondary school, which had the reputation of being the worst school in the whole of Tamil Nadu, and which he and his team are now turning into a model school, especially in the field of environmental education, Additionally they have built an environmental centre in the school grounds. Very impressive indeed! A lot of admiration from our side also went to the Auroville farmers. Jeff and John gave us a tour to Annapurna , Discipline Farm and Windarra, where we were offered lunch and had an open discussion with members of the farm group about issues relating to biological farming for Auroville´s healthy food supply and self sustainability. Each AVI center was given a copy of the final report of "The Auroville Farm Group Assessment" which Dave roughly outlined for us. It was common impression that this kind of ground study and proper assessment could be a very valuable tool also for other sectors of Auroville´s development, like in the building and housing sector.
Then Bhavana invited us to the Tsunami relief office and explained, together with Hans, the complex situation of the relief operations, while the buzzing atmosphere in the office somehow was self explanatory - our great admiration for all those who were and still are actively involved and for the community as a whole which bears with this outstanding humanitarian action! From our AVI experience we can say that the tsunami wave showed very clearly how related thousands of people around the globe feel to Auroville: once the tsunami news went out to the world our telephones at home kept ringing, our mailboxes filled with the one question "How is Auroville doing? Was it affected? How can we help?" The material support, the donations channelled through the AVI centers, is likewise overwhelming, still now money keeps flowing in. After this presentation Bhavana took us to the Village Action premises and, together with Karin, Morris and Lavkamad, explained the situation in which the Village Action Group finds itself right now. Lavkamad then took us to the Auroville Industrial School (ITI), a vocational training center on the Village Action compound that was recently set up from a grant given by a German ministry. This center offers first class industrial training to young people of the surrounding area, mainly in the field of electronics, software and hardware as well as business English. It enjoys official recognition by the Tamil Nadu government. Finally Marc invited us to the ABC office and took us on a tour of an Auroville unit. We were informed about the work of the ABC in providing support to Auroville units in areas of marketing and quality control.
On behalf of the AVI board I would like to express our deep gratitude to all those Aurovilians who took an active part in hosting and organizing the meeting. This goes especially to Kathy, Tine, Mauna, Alan, Joster and Ingo, as well as to all those who took their precious time to meet with us and show us around. We also would like to thank Auroville´s Economy Group, Abundance and Inside India for their financial contribution, which helped to make some social events happen. And last but not least we want to thank Kalsang, Claude and the Tibetan pavilion team who hosted most of our gatherings. We really felt warmly invited and welcomed, thank you Auroville!
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