This article recounts experience of the European youth exchange program called Erasmus+ that ran in October 2021 in Damanhur. If you are a young person and are looking for experiences in contact with other cultures or if you have ideas on possible future exchange projects between young people to be organized in Damanhur, this article is for you.

We interviewed Aninga, a young Damanhurian who followed the project from the beginning, presenting it to the European Union, and till the very end, hosting the youth group here in Damanhur. Aninga is passionate about involving young people in the construction of the world of the future.

I feel a sense of immense gratitude for the experience I had in coordinating the Erasmus+ youth exchange program that took place in Arca Tentyris, one of the 4 communities of Damanhur, from 15 to 25 October 2021.

What is Erasmus+?

The Erasmus+ Youth Exchange Program is a program financed by the EU. Through informal education approach, it aims to help young people acquire new knowledge in specific contexts that allow them to meet the diversity of young people from various European countries.

In our case, the group members came from Italy, Greece, Spain and Sweden. The experience that the group had was co-created by myself, Christos, Monica, Maria and Sara. Each of us was a representative for the participants from respective countries; together we formed a group that worked and coordinated things together on a daily basis. This gave us an opportunity to experience group work among 4 young people with equal decision-making power, teaching us how to truly listen to others and take into consideration everyone’s needs and opinions. I represented the Italians, as well as Damanhur as a community to which I belong.

What was the goal of the program?

We called it Community Lab, and the main objective was to experience the creation of a small community, within an existing community framework of Arca Tentyris, one of the four communities of Damanhur.

What was the program?

We organized visits to various parts of Damanhur and the Temples of Humankind, worked on the community’s lands, contributing to practical tasks such as cleaning the territories, caring for greenhouses, recycling and cooking. We learned to use tools of intrapersonal and interpersonal communication. We had our daily spiritual routine, involving body movements, breathing, reflection and diary-writing. Christos led the group in a workshop based on a theater of the oppressed.

How was your personal experience of this program?

A few months have passed since the end of the program and I still feel the experience very much alive inside of me.

I have been resident in Damanhur for 5 years and I my life here is very intense, but coordinating a program like this was a truly profound experience for me. It allowed me to feel the wave of my generation. Spending ten days 24/7 with young people my age determined to change themselves first, grow, learn from other people’s experiences and from what Damanhur offers has transformed me and inspired me want to invest more in young people. I feel a special thread that unites us, based on empathy, taking care of others, looking after relationships, listening to each other. I took part in this program in a role of organizer with a multitude of tasks to do, so while my plate was full, I was nonetheless deeply touched by the field of humanity I came into contact with. I feel desire to contribute to creating a new, amplified world; a world based on peace and love, harmonious communities, authentic human beings in contact with themselves and nature.

What do other participants say about this project?

Damanhur is a place where the new humanity is growing, the one that tries to train every day to be better, believing that the future lies in living in small communities, like the villages of the past but with developed communication and emotional intelligence. It’s like going back to the past mixed with a vision of the future. Damanhur was built from a vision of a couple of people who saw that there was an important energy point in that place and decided to dig to build the Temples of Humankind… You have to go and see it for yourself, sometime in your life, it’s something unique on this planet, just like you.

Being in Damanhur was a great affirmation that I am on the path I wanted to take, that there are people like me, that there are crazy young people with crazy ideas who believe in a happier and more sustainable world. In this experience I was an observer and a student from my classmates, because they were beings who knew their own potential, with an open heart and a courage never seen before, and later they were the ones who told me that they learned from me by observing me.

It is very difficult to tell everything I have experienced, but this is a good beginning.

Andrea (Spain)

For me, visiting Damanhur was a spark, an impulse, a reminder of what is truly important. In its forests and its deep valley, I was able to experiment an approach of a true community life, a life full of challenges, but also full of heart, support and personal and group growth. The people of Damanhur welcomed us with constant generosity, and created a space for us where all young people could open up and explore their gifts and talents.

In these times of uncertainty, pessimism and turmoil, I have received a boost of confidence in humanity and have felt the strength of human beings working together to build a new world.

A different life is possible, that is the strongest message that I carry with me after this experience. Lots of love, inspiration and gratitude. Thank you, Damanhur. 💜

Alejandra (Spain)

This experience involved young people from Sweden, Italy, Spain and Greece using different methods to build a small sustainable community in 10 days. The result surprised many of us and we have all experienced that, in such a short period of time, by learning from each other, we were able to create a beautiful, small community.

During our stay we had the opportunity to visit the Temples of Humankind – an extraordinary underground work of art and architecture. The Temples are carved by hand (!) in the heart of the mountain.

Why is this place so special? There is no right answer. It is the place where the impossible is possible, the place where suddenly all the answers can reach us, the place where synchronicity surprises us more than ever. It is a place where the future meets the present and the past. The Damanhur experience was a great lesson for each of us. We could see that dreams can come true and that we can create an incredible and sustainable community.

There has been a lot of talk lately about community, but we must remember that there is no community without good communication. And communication and different ways of dealing with conflicts are crucial in Damanhur. The Federation demonstrates that by having a solid foundation of shared values, by appreciating mutual differences, not just accepting them, we can create a community that is full of support and freedom at the same time. Is it a solution for the future? Perhaps…

Hanna (Sweden)

Thanks to all of you for who participated in this incredible experience, and we hope to see you back soon in Damanhur.