A warm hello to you,
We have arrived at the end of another school year in Guatemala and with it the end of our Critical-Thinking/Philosophy program. It has been a great ride and as always the end of the year is a bitter sweet moment for all of us. We are very proud of our students for all of their growth and development they have shown but sad because we won’t be seeing them as often as usual until the middle of January.
In the CT module this year we focused mainly on ego, ego development, shadow, and managing ones emotional states, not entirely for personal benefit, but for the sake of the other person(s) with whom we are relating. The kids loved this class and in fact we had 6 new teenagers join, all brought in by referral from their friends!
Since the summer, Debora and Mick, the co-founders have been working on the translation of a book on philosophy written for one of our board members, Jeff Carreira. The book, “Philosophy Is Not a Luxury” became the holiday homework for our 32 students. They were very excited when we gave them the book and many of them began reading it right away in the class as we were assigning them the books.
One of the key areas by which we can measure the impact of this class is in the evidence for shifts in perspectives. In 2013 we challenged our students to write a one-page article titled ‘My Perfect Day’ and then to share that with the class the following week. Many, as you can expect where egocentric, personal experience based narratives. However, two of our student revealed to us by means of their story that their perspective had shifted quite dramatically. Here are their stories; Miquel who is 21, a 3rd year student of ours, who is also being sponsored by one of our donors to study for a career as a chef. As part of his practical work his class was invited to select an impoverished village to cook for and feed for a day. The village they selected was only reachable by horseback. Miquel described this experience of helping other people as ‘blissful’ and incorporated not only such an event as part of a homework exercise called ‘My Perfect Day’ but also the fact that he saw himself with a worldwide chain of self-sustaining and free restaurants for the poor.
Jenny, 16, is a first year student who was referred to our work from another school after she expressed an interest in learning about philosophy. Also as part of our homework exercise called ‘My Perfect Day’, Jenny, who wishes to study to be a nurse, expressed a wish to open medical clinic for the impoverished throughout the world.
We are also Facebook ‘friends’ with many of our students and a curious way we have found to seek progress is by the content of their posts. For instance, one of our superstar students (an individual who possess the potential and interest to become a junior teacher of this content) recently posted quote from The Little Prince (a course book) and additional quotes from the Greek philosophers and Descartes (his own research and reading). And finally, we are hosting two special events for our students in the month of December: one of them will be on the 4th and will be a lecture as part of our Wisdom Speakers Series. Amy Edelstein will be visiting us and giving a full day workshop on “Morals, Ethics, Spirit and Changing the World.” On December the 7th our students will also be participating in the event “Meditate to Educate” in which we will be meditating during a 12 hour period in order to raise funds to cover this education program.
Thank you so much for all your support of this project which we are all finding is of great importance for the world in which we live today.
We have had a busy summer here in Guatemala!
Since we began teaching two classes on Wednesday (in the mornings and afternoons) at the new location, that was kindly offered to us by our good friend ‘Pastor’ Mike of Iglesia del Camino, we have maintained a great consistency in our class schedule. Teaching as we did within the public/NGO school system subjected us the many holiday and fiestas that occur here in Guatemala, good for play, not so good for learning and teaching!
We have been working on an Ego/Shadow module with our 32 regularly attending teens this year. We are teaching them to become aware of when an emotion has arisen in their awareness and they are also learning a technique to objectify and dissect the emotion(s) as a precursor to determining whether the emotion is authentic, demanding a response and not a reaction, or a shadow emotion, demanding integration.
Anger is one emotion we dealt with a lot and we even had the teens break into couples and consciously call the voice of anger and act out a little scene in front of the class so that they could practice the objectification and integration techniques. This exercise also shows the students that the main reasons we cite for getting and expressing anger has little to do with external situations, but our very own repressed shadow anger.
We also had a very special guest give a lecture by video-skype. Andrew Cohen joined us for 90 minutes of q and a on self and Self development. The kids (and we and special invited guests) loved this class and there we many questions asked and answered.
Again, we thank you for your on-going support of this Critical-Thinking Program.
With warmest regards,
Mick, Debora and all the Team at IHF.
Our work so far this year with our 35 teenagers has been very enriching; not only for them but for all of us. Their hunger to grow and evolve is propelling us all forward to explore who we are as and beyond our gender. And, some of our students are even telling their friends about the classes and new teenagers are showing up and asking if they can be admitted! Their participation is increasing and the wisdom of their questions is beyond what we expected.
For instance; Dinora (16) has mentioned that her understanding of who she is as a human being beyond her gender and culture is empowering her relationship with herself and she is seeing that her behavior around other people is even improving. Now she can be more objective or her actions and reactions towards other people and can be more compassionate when witnessing others.
We want to really appreciate all of the support we are getting from you our donors that is making this beautiful blossom of potential possible.
Also if you think you can help us to reach more support and be able to teach a wider number of students, please do let us know your ideas.
Thank you so much,
The Integral Heart Foundation.
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Panorama, Antigua Guatemala,