The 1st Asian Ecoversities Alliance Gathering has recently been held from Sep 13th -16th, 2022 at Wongsanit Ashram, Thailand with the participation of 35 people from different countries within Asia including India, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, Bhutan, Japan, Vietnam, and Singapore. From Global Ecovillage Network Oceania & Asia (GENOA) we were happy to have Thao Kin joining as the representative of the GENOA Office and Natalie Limwatana joining as the representative of the REGEN-Nations program. We also met with other members of the GENOA network in this gathering: Om Sunisa from Gaia Ashram, Hiroko from GEN Japan/As One Suzuka Community together with 3 young members of Gaia Youth (Kento, Toshiya and Mizuki), Kai Sawyer from Permaculture Dojo, Pop from Friends & Forest, Petra from Awaken Leadership Training and more.
The Ecoversities Alliance is a community of learning practitioners from around the world committed to re-imagining higher education to cultivate human and ecological flourishing in response to the critical challenges of our times. The network has grown in different parts of the world and is now building its presence in Asia. Their last planetary gathering took place in Egypt in March 2022 (read more here).
In their first Asian gathering, a good portion of the time was spent building connections and sharing aspirations among participants from different educational organizations. We also had an opportunity to understand deeper about the Ecoversities Alliance, the work of members and the different ways to be engaged.
It was meaningful and inspirational to join this gathering. Ecoversities are trying to achieve what I was dreaming and figuring out as a solution for the global social issues. The participants are not only speaking for their aim but also conducting actual projects by themselves. In the gathering, people shared their knowledge and experiences so that they can cooperate together for the future. The gathering is like a conference but this is more than that for sure. We became very close with each other since we know we can be as one and the goal we are seeking for is similar. Imagine, if people around the world are close like family, if they are working together for the same goal, the future will be here and now.
During the 4-day gathering, we had the opportunity to share about the work of ecovillages in different sessions including; As One Community and GEN Japan’s Gaia Youth program, creating communities with OmSunisa from Gaia Ashram in Thailand, financial sustainability discussion hosted by Natalie from REGEN-Nations. We also shared videos, information, and materials about the various projects and in GENOA & NextGENOA.
I joined knowing little about Ecoversities, and after spending 4 days together I found inspiration and support both on a personal, project and movement level. The alliance is looking to connect together those of us working on any form of wisdom sharing, especially those outside mainstream academic institutions. We know we need to design place based, people oriented solutions to replace the standardised and global systems we have now. We choose to have a million different solutions and recognise there may be overlap and we are smaller projects. So I see the Ecoversities alliance is a way to bring education projects together under our common dream of accessible education that supports a just and regenerative way of living.
Further resources and get involved
Ecoversities Alliance offers a lot of exchange activities and cross-learning for its members. You can check out some of their publications below:
- “Catalogue of Radical Pedagogies” showcases different approaches from across the alliance: https://ecoversities.org/catalogue-of-radical-pedagogies/
- ‘Ecoversities Start-up Kit’ covers many aspects to consider when developing a project including; finding your mission, creating a team, resource management, tools for Self Designed Learning, and much more! https://ecoversities.org/the-ecoversities-startup-kit-developed-by-india-members/
If you are keen to set up your own ecoversities or be part of the alliance, please check the information below and on their website https://ecoversities.org/
The result of my participation in the gathering was very meaningful. Many and varied attempts impressed me, and at the same time, I could objectively see the unique characteristics of ecovillage projects. It is sure that eco-village-based learning can show the youth that innovative attempts are feasible with practical ways of living. I think it is great that several different initiatives joined together from GENOA. This time, I joined with three graduates (Toshi Kento, Mizuki) from GEN Japan Gaia Youth program, held at As One Community aiming to encourage the youth of urban areas to awaken towards the creation of regenerative societies. It was my pleasure that they learned freely in a relaxed atmosphere while directly experiencing the efforts of a diverse group of people. The opportunity to interact directly with their Asian peers gave me a sense of great potential for the next steps.
Making friends was a big part of the Ecoversities gathering for me, and it was comforting and exciting to know we came together to connect from heart to heart at the beautiful Wongsanit Ashram. We shared games to bring us closer which were both creative and traditional. We reimagined the future through remembering wisdom that was passed down from generations ago. It was eye opening to experience traditional rituals and feel so beautifully rooted deep down at the present moment. Knowing the heart of our ancestors is education. Seeking to find out what flower blooms in front of me is education. Holding our hands together and feeling one another’s energy is education. The Ecoversities Alliance gathering helped me realise my hope to keep learning from the many streams of adventures that the universe has to offer.
Attending the gathering was a big challenge for me because I didn’t have much overseas experience. I wanted to make friends who could connect by heart, even though we are from different cultures.
When we introduced the Gaia Youth Program in the middle of the program, I was convinced that we are all wishing for the same world and we can connect with our hearts. I was also very happy to meet people from the same generation who are working globally to create a new society. It was very stimulating.
I am now more interested in seeing the world on a global scale. I would like to cooperate with my friends I met this time and take more actions to create a better society.
About the Author
Thao Kin, Networking Coordinator at GENOA
Thao Ngo, often called by her friends and colleagues as Kin, is a learner and educator from Vietnam. Kin is passionate about ecology and is on a long exciting quest of her life learning from and caring for Mother Earth. Kin has been a member of NextGENOA since 2016 and joined the GENOA Office team in mid-2020. In addition to her active role in GENOA and NextGENOA, Kin works with non-governmental organizations in Vietnam in organizing and facilitating training on ecological education and eco-lifestyle. Kin believes in the power of reconnection and re-enchanting the world. She is practicing as a Deep Ecology facilitator and trainer.
This article is produced with the contributions of Natalie, Hiroko, Toshi, Mizuki and Kento.