This summer, Permaculture Denmark sent four persons on a youth exchange, hosted by Ananda Valley in Portugal. The youth exchange was centered around a spiritual healthy lifestyle with practical workshops about permaculture and the 12 principles. Young people from Egypt, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Macedonia, Latvia, Denmark participated and shared their culture and knowledge with each other.
The following text is two reflection letters from Danish participants, giving an insight into the exchange and the impact it made:
This August I participated in a youth exchange “Back2Nature” in Ananda Valley, Portugal. It was a beautiful, challenging and transformative experience.
I came to Ananda Valley with a lot of stress and worry, and soon all of it was washed away by the river, the stars and the time I spent with the amazing people I met there.
We spent 10 days living in a community following the principles of permaculture, and we had a chance to learn about them both in theory and in practice. We weeded, planted, picked berries, learnt about agroforestry and rainwater harvesting, talked about ethics and philosophy. We had a chance to meet each other, which for me was invaluable – getting to know other young people who share the same beliefs and values as me.
Ananda Valley is a spiritual place, it gives one an opportunity and space to grow. I certainly did a lot. Being constantly surrounded by people during an intense programme is hard, it breaks the shell surrounding the self. It feels intense, heavy, tiring. Is it worth it, rewarding? Yes, yes, yes. Would do it again.
Coming back from Ananda Valley, I immediately started looking for other opportunities to get similar experiences. Youth exchanges, volunteering, permaculture and community living – these are the challenges worth taking. I wholeheartedly recommend for anyone who has such a chance to try them to do so.
In the Valley of Bliss I found the dedication and spirit to follow a daily meditation and yoga course. It proved to be an experience opening for deeper reflections and learning about self, both alone but also with other. In a community of self-sufficiency, spirituality, co-learning and teaching, we went on to learn about each other, the cultures we belong to, our similarities and the differences. Space was given to each individual and capacity to adapt and grow was nourished. New bonds developed and insights gained, differing from person to person. From all of it all, the dedication to a regular lifestyle of morning yoga and daily meditation sparked a light in me, realizing I have the power to regulate my own activities and patterns. Now, as fall is coming and the dark times of winter, the recollection of such immersion bring a hope, that we can help ourselves and each other, when all of the garden is sleeping.