“So, what is YouthLink?”
We’ve been asked this throughout the year by both community members and passers-by. We’ve been asking the question to ourselves as well. Our answers have now become somewhat standardised, “YouthLink is a non-profit youth organisation that works to connect, integrate, and empower young people both inside and outside of Auroville.” But what does that actually mean?
YouthLink is a non-profit service under the Auroville Service Trust. We hold gatherings to bring people together, we do awareness campaigns on topics that we find important for the health, safety, and well being of youth in Auroville. We hold educational workshops that further one’s understanding of the world, explore interests, and further individual capacity and capabilities. We’ve launched and aided projects such as the ‘Youth Employment Survey’, Every Soul Is Unique (a children’s theatre), the Safety and Boundaries Awareness team, among others.
Some people ask, “There are others who do this too, so what’s special about YouthLink?”
YouthLink truly embodies the motto, “By the youth, for the youth.”
With most of the team members having grown up in Auroville, we have a lived understanding of what was great about growing here, but also what we missed in certain areas. Being connected to the youth community personally, we are able to communicate and recognise the needs of the youth in our community, and we have the necessary connections to link things that must go together: teachers to students, information to curiosity, and opportunities to those in need.
Youth”LINK”, it’s in the name.
Additionally, YouthLink functions a bit like a university; a vocational training ground, if you will. Starting up again post COVID in the spring of 2022, we overcame many obstacles to create a healthy and vibrant team; made up of individuals that are well connected to themselves, their emotions and thoughts, well connected to the team, and well connected to what’s happening in the Auroville community as a whole.
Learning from doing, we are gaining real-life experience in improving our interpersonal skills, how to manage a project, how to organise events, how to facilitate/hold space, and how to make presentations and speeches; as well as more specific skills such as graphic design, social media management, bookkeeping, and survey methods.
All this is happening while we are striving to understand Auroville better- its method of functioning, values, ideals, and realities. And much like a university, one is free to pick and choose where they want to put their energy. Though there is no certification or diploma which one is awarded at the end, the ones who have spent substantial time working in YouthLink are capable, well-informed individuals who can thrive in many environments.
We have gone through the experience of setting up a non-hierarchical, non-profit, functioning service unit. With the help of mentors and facilitators, we have engaged in communication exercises and training, project management training, and team building exercises. We function largely on team agreements, and have a discussion-oriented method of decision-making; the effectiveness is highly augmented thanks to our approach to healthy communication and the conscious decision to move away from power struggles and towards widening perspectives. This, tied with our curiosity and the willingness to go through trial and error, has led to a team that is not afraid to take on challenges, takes accountability both at an individual and organisational level, and is able to make major decisions that are inclusive and well-thought-out.
We will continue to dedicate our energy for the community to make positive change. Join and support us on our journey! :)
Written by Namu