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- in conversation with Emmanuelle for AVToday, March '02

Anandamayi was born in Auroville from Indian/French parents, attended Kindergarten, Transition, Mirramukhi, then Last School, where, being today 20 years old, she is still studying part time. In 1998, for the first time, she went out of India and stayed in the US for 7 months, studying in a high school.

At present, she teaches singing to the youngest class in Kindergarten (2-3 year olds), is learning archeology with Poppo, sings with the Auroville choir and is involved in theatre.

Challenge of freedom

"The biggest challenge of growing up in Auroville comes mostly from the fact that we have so much freedom here, and so we have to be a lot more disciplined to be able to do something constructive. It asks for a lot more to study in Auroville than it does anywhere else, where you have a fixed programme. It is much easier out there, I think. Here it's really about self-imposed discipline, at least in Last School, and that's one of the reasons I stayed there. Here I get to study the subjects that interest me.
"Having a diploma doesn't interest me.. In the fields I'm interested in - singing, theatre (I've been greatly influenced by my parents, who are both artists) and archeology - I don't think I need a diploma in order to manage out in the wider world, if I ever have to.

On going abroad..

"A lot people are of the opinion that people like us who have grown up in Auroville have to leave, to see Auroville from a different perspective. It may be true. It's interesting to see all these young people coming back. Perhaps they needed to go out to have another experience and maybe they had to go through that but I didn't. I didn't feel the need to get out of Auroville. Somebody offered me the experience and I took it, but I already knew how special Auroville was without having to go out.

Opportunities to learn

"I think education is one of the main reasons why many of the young people leave: there is no university level education in Auroville. Maybe we have to work towards a higher education programme here. Already, with Super School, and Kireet Joshi's talks on philosophy, things are changing. But everything here takes time.. I am happy doing part-time studies, I don't plan to stop studying in order to work, I think I will continue to do both.
"I think there are many opportunities to learn different things in Auroville, that is why I'm still around. I think I still have a lot to learn from people here in the fields of theatre, singing and archaeology. I don't know, maybe it's just easier for me. A lot of young people say that here they are bored. I am here and I haven't had the chance to be bored, I find so much to do. I think they don't have the same interests and training for a lot of what they are interested in is not available here.

Is Auroville different..?

"People say Auroville at present is not much different from anywhere else in the world - I feel a lot of the Auroville experience, the work being done here, is on the individual level, so all the progress is inner. In some ways, what we're doing here is not different from what's happening anywhere else in the world, but the whole idea is still different - the fact that people have come to Auroville because something is different, and they want to try it out, participate. We've gone through tough, shaky times, there are a lot of problems, even at present there are conflicts between Aurovilians, or problems with the Government, but we'll go through it, because it's meant to be. It's a passage - it all happens for us to move forward faster. Any society has its ups and downs. We're not so much different, we just have to learn..

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