In May of 2008, I joined the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Sangha for a retreat on 21st Century Engaged Buddhism and a UNESCO summit on Buddhism's Contributions to Social Justice. We were inspired to be in Vietnam, where engaged Buddhism was born in the midst of the American-Vietnam war.
At the time, a young monk, Thich Nhat Hanh began to work with a young lay university student who was passionate to tend to the social issues- poverty, health care, education- in the midst of war. A group of 6 young adults also concerned by these social issues received lay ordination with 14 mindfulness trainings to guide themselves in this work- in order to engage in their social work from a place of peace within themselves and with the aspiration to stop cycles of violence. Learn more from the riveting memoir of Sister Chan Khong, the young woman who later became a nun: Learning True Love.
In a retreat of 400, we were more than 40 young adults under 35. We were deeply inspired and motivated to be the next generation, the digital, web 2.0 version of SYSS. With a squarespace site and some basic resource sharing, we launched a digital refuge and resource for our global young adult community in June 2008, under the name: MOXY2BE (Mindfully Organizing gen X and Y to BE).
By late summer of 2008, Thay gave the group of young adults gathered a calligraphy and the "Wake Up" movement began as a magnet for young adult changemakers. Within a short time, the monastics developed a more sustainable, internally hosted site for our young adult community to be connected. With that, the Wake Up movement was born and now flourishes all around the world, learn more here.