In April 2019, 2 of us from YouthLink left the hot summer days in Auroville to attend the 4rth Indian Multiversities Alliance Gathering (IMA) up in Bir, Himachal Pradesh! We were among 60 practitioners of alternative education, a wonderful mix of youth, families and experienced professionals with years of working in alternative education. This helped enhance a sense of community between members as well as offered a greater diversity of perspectives.
The objective of annual meet up of IMA was to re-imagine and build on the core values and vision of this alliance, especially in the light of its rapidly growing community. There was a focus on reviewing earlier experiences and initiatives as well as encouraging cross pollination and mentorship in order to allow new collaborations and projects to emerge. This was also an occasion to visit sustainable learning spaces such as Sambhavana and Avishkar. Even Deer Park, the venue of this gathering, as a centre for the study of classical Indian wisdom traditions, itself offered a wealth of ancient knowledge: there were discussions and presentations around engaging with classical Indian wisdom tradition as well as an inspiring visit to Bhumang Jampaling Monastery.
How did it go?
The gathering was a 4-day event.
Day 1 was dedicated to introductions, sharings of personal journeys, as well as talks on the background and history of IMA. This was followed by presentations of the projects that emerged under IMA gathering the previous year such as Traveller’s University, Gap Year Programme and Converse Action. After that we had a Mela, an informal and fun way to share existing ideas and initiatives. This is where we presented our work in YouthLink among other interesting projects such as Jail University and Gnostic Center
Day 2 started with a debrief of the first one plus a collective harvest of the feelings that emerged that day: thanks to the facilitation, the location and the composition of this gathering, there was a strong sense of community felt between us all. We then moved on to Pro-Action Dream Cafe: ideation spaces were provided for those wished to start a new project to receive the perspective and input of the others.
After this we had a presentation and discussion by Prashant Varma, the gracious host of Deer Park, on engaging with Classical Wisdom Tradition. After which we visited Bhumang Jampaling Monastery, where we had the chance to observe and interact with Buddhist philosophy students and monks.
Day 3 started with a debrief as well as a harvest of the different needs of various participants. The focus was on collaborative projects and strengthen 6 ideas that had emerged during this gathering. Here’s a sense of some of the ideas: sustainable campus, I-lead, Mensversity and Rediscover India. After there was an option of practicing Sewa at Deer park, with some choosing to go harvest wheat field and preparing mulch.
Day 4, on this last day, we looked at the existing Cargos and their different roles and responsibility as well as brainstormed for new Cargos. People volunteered to take charge of a specific one as 6 Cargos were finalised for this gathering :
- Learner Forum/Festival
- Heart Stewards
- Mentoring New Team
- Next Gathering
- Knowledge Team
We broke into smaller groups to consolidate the learnings accumulated through the course of this gathering. And finally ended with a beautiful closing ritual, facilitated to establish vulnerability and build connection between us all. After which, this intense, collaborative experience dissolved into warm goodbyes and promises to remain in touch as some left for a field visit to Sambhavana and Avishkaar and others went back to their respective homes and organisations.