Beyond Seva – Youth (YMHT) Driven Satsang
Over the past year, the NJ Center has seen a tremendous growth in youth engagement. The primary reason for this, as some say, is because we are a large center. This is only partially true. Youth engagement thrives on numbers, inevitably, but does not depend on them. It depends on something beyond weekly sessions or group activities with the youth. It also depends on something beyond Seva, even though Seva creates so many powerful opportunities for the youth to grow as a group and make connections across the world.
So what made our youth engagement so successful? Having full day satsangs every quarter hosted completely by the youth (YMHT and YMHT+). From planning menus, purchasing ingredients, making chai, delegating responsibilities to the adults, and even performing a pad – the Y and Y+ linked together and did it all!
Needless to say, this was a huge learning curve for everyone. We quickly learned about each others’ skills and how we can most efficiently utilize them to produce the best (and oftentimes, most creative) outcomes. Through the process, we also learned about each others’ talents and how we can incorporate these talents for future outings and events.
Our goal for these youth-driven satsangs was to ensure that no youth is left out. We wanted to involve them in each step of the planning and execution to encourage them and to give them a sense of accountability, a sense of “feeling important.” And, at the same time, giving them the accountability allowed us to bond with them and get to know their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. Much to our surprise, the seemingly shy and quiet youth at our center are rather witty, creative, and really good at problem solving. It’s inspiring for us as the coordinators to watch how they work together as a team to ensure they complete their tasks effectively and also apply the tidbits of gnan in the process.
While serving seva (prasad) is a great way to get youth involved, it does not promise retention and youth engagement. The youth are capable of greater responsibility and learn more about themselves and others when given that level of accountability. And the best part about this switching of roles is that if anything goes wrong, we [Y coordinators] always got their backs!
NJ YMHT Coordinators
(Aditi Doshi, Harshit Patel, Mansi Vira, Minita Patel, Priya Doshi, Shaman Shah, Sonali Patel, Vipul Patel)