The Krishna House in Gainesville, FL is at the vanguard of ISKCON's youth outreach activities in North America.
This past weekend, 45 administrators from 40 Hare Krishna centers met in New Vrindaban for the semi-annual North America Leadership Conference for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Nearly forty-five years after ISKCON’s founding, its first generation of leaders are reaching retirement age, and the organization is planning a smooth transfer of power to the next generation.
Ali Krishna Dasi of Gainesville, Fla., is one of the new young faces in ISKCON leadership. The Buffalo native joined ISKCON in 2006 in New Vrindaban, and lived in the community for nearly one year. “I was 25 years old at the time, and I wasn’t satisfied with my life,” said Ali Krishna. “Although I had lived in agricultural communities before, I had never lived in a God-centered community. I later moved to New Vrindaban and spent nearly one year here.”
In 2008, Ali Krishna became the Director of the newly formed Institute for Vaishnava Studies (IVS) at Krishna House, a student housing facility at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Krishna House allows students to simultaneously pursue spiritual life and a secular education. The Institute provides education in the ancient science of bhakti yoga, or devotion to God. “IVS is an unqualified success,” said Ali Krishna. “This past school year, Krishna House was filled to capacity. We had 20 full-time undergraduate and graduate students in residence. Next year, half the students will be coming back.”
Ali Krishna was part of a panel that discussed innovative outreach strategies. Many of the other panelists were also young people who are successfully reaching out to youth. “I felt comfortable at the conference,” she said. “Quite a few of the older people told me that they felt inspired to see a young woman in a leadership role.”