Greetings from all of us here at Whispering Seed!
Here in the pine forests of Kalaw in Southern Shan State, the weather is changing and it is clear we are just on the cusp of the hot season. It has been another very busy three months here in Myanmar with several trainings to support teachers around the country. We have been working with several groups throughout the country to support the capacity and development of local teachers, in particular to further support a new generation of trainers. We are very excited about the positive energy of the young teachers we work with who are primarily between the ages of 17 to 23 years old.
Training of Trainers (TOT) Teachers Training (Myitkyina, Kachin State)In early December I was invited to go to Kachin State to work with a group of teachers to provide a Training of Trainers workshop on Holistic Education for teachers from all over the State. The training stemmed from a previous trip in which a large group of Kachin Baptist and Catholic teachers, students and administrators joined a group of senior Buddhist monks from all over the country on an Exposure Trip to South Korea to look at Democratic Education.
Roughly 35 teachers attended the training from all over the state, including Saya Naw Zet, the founder and director of Shalat Education and Resource Center in Myitkyina. He also participated in our Exposure Visit to South Korea. Both of these experiences have greatly influenced the way in which he is running his school, and I look forward to collaborating with him in the future.
Follow up TOT for Teachers (Kachin State)The 5 day training was a huge success. There was so much information to cover and so much enthusiasm from the group that on our final day of evaluation and reflection we decided to organize a follow up training for the teachers. The second part of the TOT was focused on Child Development and Child Psychology. We continued some of the Life Skills part of the training as well, teaching some handicrafts to the teachers.
Shalat Education and Resource Center Exchange Training (Kalaw, Shan State)As a follow up to the training, Saya Naw Zet arranged for 10 of his students to come to Kalaw for 3 weeks to learn more about mud house building (as they are now building their own earthen school), baking, cooking, crafts and holistic education. Part of Shalat is a small wood working business that helps train the students and raise money for the school. While they have been in Kalaw they taught us wood working so we can build our own furniture for the opening of the Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre. (Please see our other report for Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre on Global Giving about their visit and our first official exchange and training at the new Learning Centre). We are very excited about this project and the ongoing exchange between Kalaw and Myitkyina that is has started.
Earthen Building Kindergarten (Myitkyina, Kachin State)Following the TOT in Myitkyina, we stayed on for a few days to start the first earthen school in Myitkyina. We worked closely with our partners who are planning to open a small kindergarten in the city. This will be the first of several earthen school projects that we will work on in Myitkyina. The school was designed with help from our friends from New Zealand and Belgium. The kindergarten is in the shape of a heart with lofts for the children to climb in. The Director of the school along with the community members were filled with joy as the walls rapidly grew each day and the dream of their school slowly unfolded into a reality. We will return to Myitkyina in the next month to teach a final painting workshop for that building and help Shalat School with the beginning of their new school!
Senior Abbot Gathering for all of Southern Shan StateFor three days in March a group of 22 senior Buddhist monks from all across Southern Shan State joined together at Naung Taung Monastic School, a Pa-O monastic school located just east of Taunggyi. During the Gathering the abbots were exposed to principles of holistic education and sustainability. On the final day of the training, we took the monks to an organic farm and training centre in rural Southern Shan State. Here during our reflection process, one of the Pa-O (a small ethnic group from Shan State) senior Buddhist monks shared his feelings and inspirations from the training by saying, “I am going to tear down the walls of my school and support the children to grow green like the trees!” This kind of impact and awareness raising, which is the basis for systemic change within their monastic schools and monasteries, was shared with the majority of monks who joined the 3 day Gathering. It was a great transition time for all of monks in the training.
Southern Shan State Teacher TrainingAlso while working Naung Taung Monastic School, we provided support training in English language and Holistic Education. The Naung Taung staff (young teachers and monks) have started to organize their own teacher training programs. I supported the training for 8 days with introduction to holistic education, child development and child psychology. There were over 40 teachers from Buddhist monastic schools from all over Shan State. The training was to support their development of teachers, promote holistic models of education and begin to create a network and support system among the teachers in Southern Shan State.
The next few months are scheduled full with more trainings all over the country. We are thrilled at the opportunity to be working with the local partners here in Myanmar and amazed at the motivation and passion for holistic education and creating long lasting change to support the youth of Myanmar.
Dear Friends, family and supporters,
We are pleased to share with you more news about the development of the Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre. After several months of preparation, Whispering Seed finally made yet another big move from Pyin Oo Lwin in Upper Myanmar to live and base in the small former British hillstation town of Kalaw. Located in the pine forests and cool weather of Southern Shan State, Kalaw is a small town serving as the starting point for hikes into local ethnic hilltribe villages, famous caves in nearby Pindaya and several hike routes starting in Kalaw and ending in Inle Lake. It’s not only a wonderful location, but also quite an strategic one, for it is a place that has experimented a considerable increase in its tourist visits, which means that local people are starting to see entrepreneurship possibilities and others, which turn our project into an incredible opportunity. We’ve been working also in research regarding the needs and priorities so we can lunch our Learning Center as a response to the real needs of local people working together with our partner organizations.
We arrived in Kalaw around the first of November and began to get settled in our new home, which will also serve as the base for Phase I of the Centre. The house is in a privileged location for our purposes, just at the edge of downtown Kalaw, a 5 minute walk from bus station and central market.
We have only been here about a month now, but we are slowly getting the home settled and we are making plans for Phase 1 to start soon. We have learned that working in Myanmar is challenging at many levels. However, with commitment and support, we are excited about the progress we have made and plans we are creating to move forward. The programs we plan to offer through the center will contribute to the current development of Myanmar.
Short course in Business Training & Designing the Space
Two of the youth who are starting the project are currently receiving a short Business Training course from our friend Natalia, our friend from Chile who has come to volunteer with us. Together they are developing the business plan for Phase I and Phase II of the project. She is working with a few of the youth here to better build their capacity for management of the centre.
Cooking and Baking Training in Italy
While working with Brighten Foundation we had the pleasure of meeting Gabriella, our friend from Italy who has presented us an opportunity to broaden the classes and teachings we can impart in the center, with a cooking and baking training opportunity in Italy. This is also a great opportunity for our young members to grow and learn a much more diverse base of international skills training, which we will then spread through Sprouting Seeds.
Implementation for the center
As we are starting the first phase of the bakery, we are continuing to gather the basic information so we can launch the project soon. Our local partners have been an incredible support in this area, helping us getting us all the necessary information and supplies, including a bread oven which we are in the process of securing a donation from Mandalay.
We look forward to your on-going support through our final campaign of this year and as we start into the new year of 2015.
We are graterful for all of your support!!!
4th Report for Rural Teacher Trainings in Myanmar
December 1st, 2014
Warmest Greetings for the end of a successful year!
As the cool weather rapidly falls upon the small town of Kalaw, in the pine covered mountains of Southern Shan State, we are pleased to share the final news with you of our teacher trainings in Myanmar for 2014. It has been a tremendously successful year with our Teacher Training programs and we look forward to your continued support as we make plans for 2015.
Brighten Foundation Training at Shwenadi Monastic School in Dry Zone
For the second year our friend Guisseppe Martinegi from Brighten Foundation based in New Zealand, joined us for another successful month of trainings. Shwenadi Monastic School is home and school to over 400 ethnic children from Chin State on the border with India. The program was a huge success and has started an on-going relationship with the monastery as well as a newly found Montessori Pre-School started in the town of Kyaubadaung. During our time with Shwenadi we offered;
Youth Development Foundation/Football for Hope and Brighten Foundation
For that last 2 years we have also been working with our Myanmar based partner U Ye and his Youth Development Foundation/Football for Hope. Together we held teacher training, youth empowerment and football training outside of Mandalay. Working with a local monastery with over 450 ethnic Palaung children, we also supported the monastic school and orphanage with basic health care and cleanliness of the compound and support better health among the children.
Inter-Cultural Education (ICE) with Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation (PCF)
Whispering Seed facilitated a 5 day workshop on Inter-Cultural Education (ICE) training for PCF participants from Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. Offering training to support ICE programs to be better integrated into their programs in the 3 different countries. Besides ICE, Whispering Seed also introduced holistic education, environmental sustainability and Non-Violent Communication (NVC) to the Pestalozzi team. The training was very successful and future collaborations are being planned together to bring more Inter-Cultural Education ideas and practices into the programs we are working with.
Holistic Education and Earthen Building Workshop in Upper Myanmar with Kachin Education Initiative Group (KEIG)
Over the next week we will be traveling to Upper Myanmar to work with KEIG in Kachin State. There we will working with teachers from various organizations who are working in different regions of Kachin State and Northern Shan State. Following the training we will designing and building an earthen building kindergarten for one of the KEIG members new project. More to come on this in the next report!
Overall we have had a very successful year reaching teachers and youth from all over the country. We are already planning workshops and trainings to start in January and continue throughout the year with our partner organizations here in Myanmar. We are grateful for all your support and look forward to your continued support in the upcoming year!