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Auroville International

 

 

AVI - Auroville goes to Kazakhstan.
A report



28 May 2007

 

 

Dear friends,

We have just come to the end of our 4 day Auroville AVI meeting in Almaty, Kazakhstan. A more detailed report of what happened during the program is also attached and in this note we just wanted to share with you, more informally, how things went and how we are all doing. This has not been possible till now due to a typically action packed few days, and no internet access at the place we had stayed during the conference. This morning we arrived in Almaty City and have a little time now to communicate with you all and share what we have been up to.

The Auroville group arrived after uneventful travel the night before the meeting was due to begin. We were heartily received by our welcoming committee of Ruslan and his brother Nurlan at Almaty Airport, and swiftly taken by bus to our place of residence and venue for the coming days, Sanatorium Tau Samal about 20km outside of the city in the mountains. Martin and Elizabeth from UK had arrived earlier in the day (Camille from Switzerland was with us by breakfast the next morning). Those of us who had gratefully escaped the heat of Auroville were delighted by the novelty of hot showers and blankets and settled down to a good night's sleep! The next morning, start of the conference, we had a few minutes to appreciate the cool mountain air, the spectacular backdrop of green hills and a few snow capped peaks, but our main task was to set up the hall in preparation for the start of the meeting at 11am. After a breakfast of mashed potato and fried fish (!), we began, and the set up flowed smoothly with each person helping in whatever way was needed. The hall looked great, and was ready to begin. It was also about then that the novelty of being cool had worn off, and most of us decided we were actually cold – this theme turned out to be a bit distracting for those of us who just hadn't brought enough warm gear.


The start of the meeting was late, but everything went quite smoothly. About 50 visitors came and stayed throughout the day. For details of the day, please see the other report. At the end of a day very dense with information, we enjoyed a walk through the hills and after dinner convened to review the day and see about the next day. The first hour of “evaluation” revolved around the topic of tics – it seems the hills were infested with them, and some carry encephalitis virus. Ruslan made us realise this was no joke and soon we adjourned to our rooms in pairs to check each other for tics – a few people unluckily had been bitten and had to be given the tablets.

Then we got down to the business of actually evaluating the meeting and we realised that we had not taken the time to introduce ourselves at all and there was so much information given that the next day we needed to be much more able to interact, and connect to the people – some of whom had travelled far and had given 4 days of their life to learn more about Auroville which had lived as a dream in their hearts. From the next day onwards, we were much more able to connect to the people and as they stayed with us in the sanatorium, we felt a growing bond of warmth and connection in spite of language difficulties which were not insignificant!

 

The final day – a public event – planned in the city to be more accessible to more people was somewhat disappointing from the point of view of numbers of people who came. There were only 20, in spite of Ruslan speaking to one university student group and placing posters in 12 universities and in local media. Quality-wise however, the interaction was good and intense and we had learned from previous experience how better to manage the time, and get essential information across. We presented all visitors with a card with the charter of Auroville and a sample of soil from Matrimandir gardens. Many people throughout all the days of the meeting expressed how touched and grateful they were for Auroville's existence and some felt they really would come and that their lives were preparing for just this. Such stories moved us very much.


After the meeting was officially over, we took a kind of banquet lunch at a beautiful Kazakh restaurant. It was generously paid for by Ruslan from Moscow who is hosting a meeting later in the year about Auroville and will receive the posters and left over books and products that were not sold at this meeting. After lunch which finished by about 5.30pm (!) we walked through the town (which thankfully was much warmer than the mountains where we had been staying) and could finally open our eyes a bit to our surroundings and take in the place. It had started to drizzle but we were in good spirits. Ruslan and André went off to organise our accommodation for the coming days, and we met up later and made our last trip up to the mountain together, tired but satisfied!

 

Today we came to the city. One of the people who attended the meeting - a journalist - had wanted Kittu and a group of us to meet the Mufti, the Islamic head of the country. He is a very important person and while we were a little surprised that we could just meet him, we prepared ourselves for the meeting at the appointed him of 11am. As we suspected though, it required protocol such as official invitation letter and the woman who “arranged” the meeting a bit sheepishly admitted that maybe she was a bit hasty. Perhaps though, it was just an indicator of how touched she was and how important she felt Auroville to be, and wanted to see Kazakhstan and Auroville connected in a more significant way. A few local newspapers have also run small articles about our conference.

 

In the coming days we will have the chance to experience more of the culture and scenery of Kazakhstan. The places we stay now in the city – 2 different rented apartments are somewhat quirky, but fortunately we are all getting along well together and can manage the “intimate” conditions. And with the glorious sunshine, warm hearted Kazakh people and the spectacular snow capped peaks as a backdrop of this city, we are all smiling.

 

Kathy, AVI representative

 

Programme of the conference

“Auroville – Experiment in Progress”

 

Realisation of Auroville's ideals from the creation of the city

till now - Present state of development - Next steps

 

 

Dates: May 24-27, 2007

First 3 days were at Sanatorium “Tau-Samal”, situated about 20-25 km from Almaty city, near pos. Beskainar (Gornyi Sadovod).

 

Day 1, May 24 – Introduction and the context of the Auroville experiment

 

11.30am: Introduction to the meeting –
Elizabeth Edema (AVI UK) was the facilitator for the day and welcomed approx 50 visitors from Kazakhstan and a few surrounding countries to the conference on behalf of Auroville, Auroville International Association and local hosts, Ecocentre. Ruslan then welcomed visitors and explained program for the upcoming 4 days. He introduced Martin from AVI UK who gave a brief overview of the Auroville International Association and the reason why we host such meetings in foreign countries.

 

12 noon: Opening address by the Head of UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office Ms. Tarja Virtanen. She began by introducing herself as had of cluster in Central Asia. Tarja, who has visited Auroville briefly (informal visit), described the main values and ideals of UNESCO and the reason why UNESCO has taken a supportive relationship to Auroville which shares common values and mission. She briefly mentioned many of the activities that UNESCO and Auroville have collaborated on since 1968 including UNESCO resolutions.

 

12.30 pm: Opening address by the Indian Ambassador to Kazakhstan – unfortunately this scheduled address could not happen.

 

12.30 pm: Opening address by the Director of Institute of Cultural Policy and Art Mr. Auezhan Kodar. He spoke briefly about the ways that Kazakhstan culture is rooted in inter-religious and intercultural tolerance and expressed the wish to learn more about Auroville and how collaboration may be fostered.

 

12.45 pm: Film “Dream of the Divine” – 30 min. Russian translation

 

1.15 pm: Auroville and India – Prof . Kittu Reddy. Kittu spoke about fundamentals of Indian Culture. He described the pioneering work of Sri Aurobindo who conceived of a harmonious world order and how Auroville was created in 1968 by The Mother as a possible solution to the problems of disunity in the world. The aspiration has existed across cultures and in ancient times in India. He spoke about the way the mind and reason have been elevated to the highest position yet this is insufficient to combat the problems which need essentially a change in consciousness. Auroville was created with the purpose to seek for perfection and unite with the Divine Consciousness, beyond religion, nationality or culture.

 

2 – 3pm Lunch break

 

3.00 pm Concepts of Steppe's Knowledge – Auezhan Kodar – gave a fascinating talk about the way that landscape affects consciousness, about some of the similarities that exist between India and Kazakhstan and about the traditional shamanistic ways that were close to nature.

 

Auroville – project of global relevance

15.30 Global context, International Networking, Auroville International Association – Kathy Walkling, Martin Littlewood- Kathy spoke (powerpoint pres) about Auroville's relationships to UNESCO, GOI, IAC, AVI, Auroville's outreach work especially in India, Foundational support and other more informal ways that Aurovill is networked as an International township in the making that needs the support of the world because it exists for the world. Martin followed on sharing his personal experience with AVI and what the work of the association is an how people may support Auroville from their home countries.

 

16.15 City the Earth needs – Why there needs to be a place like Auroville – Sergei Tretiakov. This address was in Russian and no translation was available in English

 

16.45 Film “The Genius of India” – 30 min.

 

17.15-17.30 Conclusion of the day.

 

Day 2, May 25 – Vision

 

9.30am This day was facilitated by Shivaya and about 20 – 30 visitors participated. The morning began with a concentration and the meeting was conducted in a round circle. After feedback from the previous day, we began with a round whereby Auroville visitors all introduced themselves and described why they came to Auroville.

 

11.30 – 1.00 Concept of Auroville as given by the Mother – Fundamental ideas of Auroville – Evolutionary context. – Prof. Kittu Reddy , talk 20-30 min followed by question/answers (Q/A) session with participation of Aurovilians.

 

13.00 – 14.30 Lunch break

 

14.30 Towards Human Unity

Short talk by Kittu Reddy on the concept (20 min), followed by sharing by Aurovilians of work towards this ideal that takes place in Auroville. This took the format of each Aurovilian expressing something of what it means to live aspiring to realise Human Unity and was followed by questions and discussion.

As there was a power cut, we conducted this session outside in the sun.

 

Evening programme:

8pm Powerpoint presentation on Matrimandir facilitated by Amy.

 

Day 3, May 26 – Auroville Today

 

Amy facilitated this day and approx 50 visitors were present

10 – 11.30am Planning and development. Shivaya and Ruslan presented the general Aurofuture prepared powerpoint on Auroville which covers four Zones, Galaxy plan, bioregional development, farming, health care earth restoration etc. Due to time retstraints this presentation was cut short and questions were taken. General questions followed including how is land acquired, how does housing development happen, how do people move around, how is energy supplied, is industry enough to cover basic needs of everyone, what is the organisational structure, how are conflicts resolved, how is overall budget for city made? (responses to answers were all given in Russian).

 

11.30 Economy of Auroville; maintenance system; attempts towards no exchange of money; need to be self-sustainable – Amy Bassett. Amy described the basic principles of Auroville's economy using PowerPoint presentation and how there is a discrepancy between ideal and reality which is due to the state of consciousness not yet developed sufficiently. She also described the evolution of Auroville's economy and some of the experiments of developing in-kind economy and the aspiration to create a system of prosperity for all where basic needs are taken care of. This session was followed by many questions including how is social protection offered (eg repatriation, medical expenses etc),how much money is needed to come and live in Auroville, and how does PT actually function.

 

12.15 - 11.30 Principles of education in Auroville – schools, Centre of International Research in Human Unity – presentation, dialog – Prof. Kittu Reddy, Auroswaha Antoine, Sergei Treatiakov. Most of this talk was Prof Kittu Reddy speaking of the principles of education that The Mother gave and in practical terms what integral education actually means. Brief time was given for questions which included whether meditation was used in Auroville schools, how many children to a classroom, is there a curriculum, what about adult education?

 

 

13.00 – 14.30 Lunch break

 

•  Concept of the International Zone / National Pavilion – Ruslan Yeskendirov, Sergei Tretiakov (session was in Russian and no translation)

 

15.00 Auroville's technologies, inventions, experiments, research, environmental work over almost 40 years – presentation, dialog – Shivaya, With a powerpoint presentation prepared by CSR, the basics were described of the types of technologies that are being used, developed and applied in Auroville.

 

15.00 Auroville International (AVI):

Kathy Walkling, Martin Littlewood, Camille Eggar, Elizabeth Edema

This was an informal interaction with people (approx 15) who were interested to know more about the AVI association and how it is functioning and how they may become involved. They were referred to Nurlan and Kaisha in Kazakhstan as local liaisons. Guidelines for establishing new liaisons were provided. In terms of upcoming programs, information was given about upcoming meeting in Montreal and 2008 in Auroville for 40 th birthday. The possibility of creating exhibitions on Auroville in different countries was mentioned.

 

 

 

Practical realities

15.45 How to come to Auroville - Entry process and newcomer period, conditions for coming to Auroville, work in Auroville, housing, visiting Auroville, volunteer's Andre Deplechin, and Amy Bassett. Andre as a member of the Entry Service described in detail the entry process today including housing, costs, monitoring during newcomer period. Amy shared some of her personal experience as a newcomer. This was followed by an open panel – question regarding life, work, and personal experiences in Auroville. Some questions included the difference between a newcomer and Aurovilian, the weather, volunteering possibilities, the necessity of English.

 

 

Evening programme:

6.30pm A concert was given by a traditional group of musicians including a presentation about the features of traditional Kazakh music which is seen as a modality to connect to the higher realms. The concert was fascinating and beautiful an very much appreciated by all present.

 

 

 

Day 4, May 27 – Public Day:

 

This day was a public event – invitations were posted in 12 different universities around the city and was open to all. The venue was an old music hall in Almaty city. The hall we set up as it was on previous days with display of posters on Auroville in Russian, products from Auroville, books and display material. About 20 people who had not come to previous days were in attendance – mostly young people

 

10.30 Introduction to Auroville – Sergei (in Russian)

 

11.00 General presentation on Auroville using Power point presentation (52 images) – Ruslan and Sergei

 

11.45 Auroville group introduced themselves – name, where they came from, years in Auroville and what they do there.

 

12 – 1pm Open question and discussion session with all present.

 

Official close of meeting

 

14.00 – Lunch with participants – banquet and nearby traditional Kazakh restaurant generously provided by Ruslan from Moscow.

 

 

Organiser of the conference:

NGO “ECOCENTER”

Address: ul. Zhanbyla 49, ? .2, Karaganda city, Kazakhstan.

Tel/fax : +7(3212)562922 .

 

 

Guests of the conference :

A group of approx . 15 people from Auroville International Township, from some Auroville International Centres and prof. Kittu Reddy from Sri Aurobindo International Educational Centre (Puducherry).

 

 

Contact information:

Email : yes_nurlan@yahoo.com ; ruslan @ auroville . org . in

Tel: 8-3272-788520 ; 8-700-9106367.

 

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