Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability

by Sathirakoses Nagapradipa Foundation
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Train Leaders in Asia for Peace and Sustainability
Two Students Enjoying the Power Analysis Workshop
Two Students Enjoying the Power Analysis Workshop

Dear Friends,

I want to begin by expressing my deep gratitude to all of you who have contributed to our project on GlobalGiving. It is your contributions—whether occasional or monthly— that enabled us to organize and run a highly successful SENS 2021 course over the past few months under very difficult conditions. We were able to bring 9 students from Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, and a third country. This smaller-than-usual group proved to be highly engaged, responsive, and committed to forming strong ties of connection, solidarity, and mutual support. Your contributions also funded a strong work team including myself, Assistant Director/Co-Teacher (Nilanjana Premaratna), Logistics Coordinator (Topsi Rongrongmuang), and three Volunteer Tutors.

Despite all your generous contributions, we struggled this year with additional costs brought on by the need for quarantine, COVID tests, and extra medical insurance for those who entered the country. Thus it was all the more to our delight and surprise when we learned half-way through the course that our project and fellow projects on GlobalGiving under the Sathirakoses-Nagapradipa Foundation had been selected by GlobalGiving in collaboration with Airbnb to receive a donation to support our work! This completely changed the financial picture for us, and I want to express our profound thanks both to GlobalGiving and to Airbnb for this generous contribution to support our mission of cultivating leadership for sustainability in the Asian region. It reminds me too that due to its regular bonus days and to unexpected contributions such as this, GlobalGiving provides us with an enormous level of net support, even after the necessary administrative fees are deducted. I hope this will encourage you to continue your tax-deductible contributions through this platform.

What Remained the Same This Year?

SENS 2021 carried on our now six-year tradition of providing a 12-week experience of personalized support to our students. This experience allows the students to build their English skills at the same time that they grow in confidence and self-awareness and deepen their understanding of the challenges we now face globally at the wider social and ecological level. At the heart of the program are three keywords: play, connection, and integrity. Play emphasizes the fact that learning in the SENS program is designed to be enjoyable and engaging. While this learning is actually a form of work, it often feels to the students more like play. A big part of their enjoyment also comes from the close friendships that students form with participants from other countries. Connections formed in this way give our program a warmth and ease that can be difficult to find as we face pandemics, the climate crisis, and the many social divisions and inequities that characterize our societies. Precisely because they are at times challenging, these connections also becocme a deep source of learning as students strive to break through barriers that have been built up around every conceivable social and cultural difference. Integrity means that we respect the students’ own choices about how they will respond, while also making vivid the need to respond in some way that is thoughtful and constructive, and that reflects the self-chosen life goals of the student.

Running the SENS program provides a unique opportunity for participants to learn at many levels. Yet it is also a tremendous learning opportunity for the work team. We learn from our own unexpected reactions to people and to events within the course. We learn from the success or failure of what we try to accomplish in the classroom, or on a field excursion. This means that we are learning things that one might not be able to find in any text on pedagogy. I feel we are trying things in this program that put us at the cutting edge of language teaching, and that brings its own delightful rewards. Our approach of taking personal growth and social awareness as the focus of all our English language content allows for a depth that might otherwise be hard to find in a language program. We feel that we are not only preparing the students for their encounters with the international world through developing their English skills; we are also preparing them to live a meaningful life by providing useful information about where we stand now as a species, and by encouraging them to make their own informed decisions about what kind of life they would like to lead.

One area in which we face difficulties every year at the level of language teaching methodology, is how to help students undo habits of incorrect speech or language use with which they have become comfortable, in some cases over many years. We find, for example, that students often do not hear our subtle corrections, as we restate with correct pronunciation or grammar something they had said incorrectly. This forces us to find ways to call their attention to the form of their speech in surprising, enjoyable, and non-judgmental ways. Humor and lightness help, but are sometimes not enough. This year we found some success in sharing on the board a series of statements or questions that we had heard students use over the previous week. Students needed to rewrite these expressions so that they were grammatically correct. This is an old method, but we found it helpful not only as a learning tool but also as a diagnostic tool that could tell us who needed additional help. We also decided that in our next SENS course we would try to focus intensively but creatively on disrupting old but incorrect habits immediately in the first two weeks of the course, so that such habits would have little chance to survive or become more deeply rooted.

What Was Different This Year?

What was different this year was that we had a smaller group, and this allowed for greater personal attention and may have also contributed to the formation of a more cohesive group that often wanted to spend time together. This was lovely to see. This group was also deeply interested in playing—board games, in-class spelling games, badminton, and many other forms of play. I still do not know whether this orientation to play was a response to the restrictions of the pandemic, or an expression of their individual personalities. I suspect that both factors were at play. We accommodated their eagerness for play as best we could and were rewarded by a level of attention and engagement that is hard to find in groups of students. The students took our questions, activities, and challenges with great seriousness, and their doing so created a strong feeling for everyone of traveling on an authentic and shared learning journey in which outcomes were not predetermined.

This year was very different in that we could not take any field trips, aside from a few days of exploration in Chiang Mai following the excellent workshop on power analysis led by Ouyporn Khuankaew. The reason of course was the high risk posed by the growing pandemic in Thailand. The result of this constraint was that we made full use of the expertise of our work team and of our students as well. For example, Assistant Director Nilanjana Premaratna, who had exercised this role in the first and second years of SENS, often designed her afternoon classes in a way that resembled thematic workshops. In one such instance, students had to make decisions about how to develop their imaginary island nation. Logistics Coordinator Topsi led a workshop on how to organize and plan a non-violent action. Tutor Petra Carmen led a workshop helping students envision the creation of an eco-village, and the learning steps they would need to take to actually start or contribute to one. Student Wichai Juntavaro led a workshop on appreciating and relating respectfully with nature. We also invited outsiders to lead workshops that did not require the group’s travel. Toshi Doi led an in-person workshop on how citizens could affect the decisions of financial institutions that sometimes enable harmful development projects, and K. V. Soon led a workshop on digital literacy, joining us over Zoom. Melissa Storms, Assistant Director from the previous year, led two writing workshops on Zoom, and generously offered one-on-one guidance to students as well.

Finally, this year was different because it took place not only in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also in the shadow of the extraordinarily brutal and destructive military coup that took place in Myanmar. Our students’ harrowing stories of travel to Thailand, concerns for their families and colleagues, and the news from Myanmar formed a daily backdrop to our classes. One student suffered through seeing a family member paraded on TV by the Myanmar military, in a condition that made it clear he had been beaten while in detention. Such experiences led to a dawning realization that we were not only providing leadership and life training for budding leaders from various countries. In the case of Myanmar we were also providing a safe haven for them—a refuge within which they could live, work, and study in safety for a time.

We are especially grateful to you that your contributions made this possible.

Looking Ahead

The COVID-19 pandemic has not abated in Thailand, as of this writing. For this reason we have decided not to run our regular three-month course in 2022. We love this course and sincerely hope and expect to organize it again in 2023.

Meanwhile, in 2022, your contributions will be supporting our growing online work, and shorter in-person workshops and courses in Thailand when these are possible. Before the February 1, 2020 military coup in Myanmar, we had already been providing both in-person and online courses for our Myanmar friends and partners. From late October 2020 to the present, we have also been working with one ethnic group that faces constraints on their movement due to political repression at home. That work has enabled the development of a small but committed network of tutors who have been providing one-on-one mentoring to individuals from the group in question. We call this program 3OM (One-On-One Mentoring), which has become a new project within SENS. Of great significance for us is that through SENS and 3OM we have also begun training teachers of English in designing humane and student-centered pedagogies that support the critical and creative abilities of the students. This is of course significant because those teachers will help us expand our work to reach new populations.

We now want to expand that work yet again to include students from marginalized groups from across Asia. We would like to offer one-on-one mentoring and perhaps online classes to young leaders who are Dalits, or who identify as indigenous people, as well as to aspiring English teachers from other regions of Asia. We will keep you posted on these developments.

For now, thank you for reading this long report. Without you we could not be doing the work that we are doing. Thank you so much!

Sincerely,

Ted Mayer

Designer and Director of the SENS Programs

Studying Cards with Suggestions on Sustainability
Studying Cards with Suggestions on Sustainability
Sharing Personal Stories and Perspectives in Class
Sharing Personal Stories and Perspectives in Class
Asst. Dir. Nila Welcomes An Uninvited Participant
Asst. Dir. Nila Welcomes An Uninvited Participant
Exploring Wealth Inequality Using Cookies
Exploring Wealth Inequality Using Cookies
Women Reflect on Their Experience as Women
Women Reflect on Their Experience as Women

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The Very First SENS Cohort in 2016
The Very First SENS Cohort in 2016

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Recent events have made us more deeply aware than ever of how much we rely on all of our donors, including those of you who donate regularly or monthly through GlobalGiving. In this report, we will explain what we mean by these words, but first I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, as the designer and director of our SENS programs, for what you have made possible at this difficult time: based on the support we have received, our SENS 2021 program is now officially scheduled to run from May 2 – July 22, 2021!

Facing the Challenges of Running Our Program During the Pandemic Era

We all know how much the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do things. For schools, universities, and training programs, much of the work and interaction has had to move online. Parts of the world have already contained the pandemic to a very high degree; others still struggle tremendously. Here in Thailand, we are closer to the side of containment and mitigating damage. Thailand currently ranks 116th in the world in terms of number of overall cases. Although Thailand had one of the first known cases outside of China, Thai health authorities managed to contain the pandemic very quickly and effectively through public health measures and restrictions on travel. Illegal border crossings created Thailand’s first surge much later, although that, too, has been largely contained through heightened control of the border, active contact tracing and testing, and now also vaccination programs in areas that were at the heart of that surge.

The School of English for Engaged Social Service (SENS) is a program that relies heavily on face-to-face interactions in the classroom, as well as on field excursions that allow students to meet prominent Thai leaders. Although we have successfully run programs online, the three-month SENS program would quite simply not be the same if it had to be entirely virtual. For this reason, we postponed our SENS 2021 program from January to May of this year. Now, through extensive research, communication with overseas embassies, inquiries into the costs and conditions of quarantine and requirements for visas, we know that we can run our program safely in Thailand. To make this possible, we have shifted more of our scholarship monies to supporting Thais, who can attend relatively trouble-free. At the same time, we have pledged higher levels of support to those who will be arriving from overseas.

This year, the students who make the decision to attend from overseas are truly committed: they must not only arrange for a visa to enter Thailand and a flight ticket, but also reserve a quarantine hotel in Thailand, purchase medical insurance to cover their time in Thailand, get a COVID test within 72 hours of their departure, and likely face quarantine upon their return home. To make all of this easier for them, our Logistics Coordinator, Topsi, works very closely with each student to ensure that they understand the next steps and have all the necessary information. Furthermore, we pledge to support them financially for all costs that they themselves cannot cover. Here is where your support has played such a vital role. When a student says they have $500 USD and no more, we are able to cover all other costs thanks to the generosity of our donors. Often, this is what ultimately allows them to join us.

Is it worth it?

Yes—we feel strongly that it is. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many of the underlying crises that the world is experiencing now, including the increasing inequities of the world economic system, struggles for democracy in many places, and deepening stress on the planetary systems that have allowed humans and other species to flourish for hundreds of thousands of years. Whatever one may think of these crises, perhaps all can agree that the world needs kind, creative, and compassionate leaders from every group and community—leaders deeply aware of the challenges we face, leaders ready to respond thoughtfully to these challenges, leaders encouraged and supported to act, not only to fulfill their personal dreams, but also to work hand-in-hand with others to create solutions to the urgent needs of their communities and societies.

This is the kind of leader the SENS program is proud to cultivate.

Due to the military coup in Myanmar, we are not able to bring two wonderful community leaders we had selected, as they are currently unable to leave the country. We have welcomed them to attend our SENS 2022 program, which we expect to begin in January of next year. We will likely be able to bring students not only from Thailand but also from Vietnam and a third country as well to participate in SENS 2021.

We Just Organized Our First Ever All SENS Alumni Gathering

Our applicants from Vietnam are a testament to the growing strength of our alumni community. Our first-ever participant from Vietnam attended SENS in 2020. Upon her return to her homeland, she wrote such a glowing report about our program that we now have some 16 applications from Vietnamese young adults! We do not have the funds to bring all of them, and we need to maintain a balance of nationalities as well, even if we only have three countries represented. Still, the interest from Vietnam has been outstanding, and we hope to bring more of our Vietnamese friends in the coming years. Other alumni have likewise played key roles in spreading the word about the SENS program.

A second example of the strength of our alumni network is that our Assistant Director in 2020, Melissa Storms, organized a meeting of SENS 2020 alumni to talk about how to respond to the dire situation of our Myanmar brothers and sisters. This meeting led to the formation of the SENS Socially Engaged Action Network (SSEAN). This will be a means by which all SENS alumni can come together to discuss and take thoughtful action on issues that require humanitarian and other forms of constructive response.

Finally, on Sunday April 4th we held our very first All SENS Alumni Gathering, which brought together representatives of five years of SENS programs. These included teachers, students, tutors, and staff. This gathering was a chance for members of each cohort to get to know those from other cohorts, as well as to reunite with members of their own. We spent much time listening and sharing stories, both personal and those that reflected on developments and needs in our respective communities and societies. Many of the attendees were visibly moved by being able to meet with other members of the SENS community, both those they knew and those they had just met.

Once again, I would like to thank you for your generous and ongoing support, support that has allowed this group of budding leaders to continue to grow together and to have beneficial impacts on our world.

Sincerely,

Ted Mayer

Designer and Director of the SENS Programs

The 2017 SENS Cohort Visiting an Inspiring Leader
The 2017 SENS Cohort Visiting an Inspiring Leader
A Class Activity for SENS 2018 Led by Lucy Burriss
A Class Activity for SENS 2018 Led by Lucy Burriss
Tearful Goodbyes to a Beloved Tutor - SENS 2019
Tearful Goodbyes to a Beloved Tutor - SENS 2019
Members of SENS 2020 Sharing a Meal in Bangkok
Members of SENS 2020 Sharing a Meal in Bangkok
SENS 2020 Students Work on a Project Together
SENS 2020 Students Work on a Project Together

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New Publication with Chapters on the SENS Program
New Publication with Chapters on the SENS Program

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We remain deeply grateful for your interest in our programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for your ongoing financial and moral support. From July to early November we designed and printed our new brochure for SENS 2021 (link below), and began learning how to take our unique approach to teaching language, leadership, and life skills online. During this period, Director Ted Mayer also completed his role as associate editor of a new book just published in late October entitled, Civic Engagement in Asia: Lessons from Transformative Learning in the Quest for a Sustainable Future. This volume includes a chapter on SENS by Ted and two additional short chapters by alumni of the SENS program, one student and one tutor. Finally, we moved forward on the recruitment and fundraising for the SENS 2021 program.

New Online Programs

The School of English for Engaged Social Service (SENS) has been primarily defined by its annual three-month program that has taken place in the early months of the year for each of the last five years. Many of you may not know that we also began to offer courses on site in other countries roughly three years ago. In 2018, for example, the Kalyana Mitta Foundation (KMF) in Myanmar, a member and close partner of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, invited Ted to run a three-week course at the KMF office in Yangon. Based on the success of this course, KMF and the Metta Development Foundation, also with its main office in Yangon, invited Ted to run a four-week course in Yangon in 2019. They invited staff of other Myanmar partner organizations to join. The first three weeks of this course were offered in “Office Format,” which meant that the staff of these Myanmar organizations would attend the English and leadership course led by Ted from 8:00 to 12:00 every weekday, then continue on with their regular work in the afternoon. The last week was run in “Retreat Format,” which took all students to Metta’s retreat center in Pago, where Ms. Cindy Stewart and Ms. Kham Lao Lyan joined as Assistant Teachers.

Various organizations hoped to run a similar course in Yangon this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented that from happening. Instead, KMF invited Ted to teach a course series online. Ted proposed a pilot two-week online course for KMF to test out the idea first. This is because our teaching within SENS is normally highly interactive, with small group listening sessions as well as much physical movement and interaction within the classroom. We wanted to make sure we could run a similarly effective classroom online. From the end of June until mid-July, we offered 3-4 sessions in three separate courses: Basic English, Writing, and Co-Counseling. (Co-Counseling is the name we use for the listening and mutual support practice that we introduce in our various SENS classes.) These pilot courses gave Ted the time to practice new techniques that would allow these courses to work well. Our judgment, both from KMF and the SENS team, was that doing a full session would be worthwhile.

Based on the success of the pilot courses, KMF invited Ted to teach two courses—Writing and Basic English—for a period of five weeks. They also welcomed him to introduce the listening practices of Co-Counseling within these two courses, each of which would meet twice a week. We successfully ran this course from September 15th to October 17th. This experience helped us to see how much can be done within an online format. It gave us greater confidence in teaching online, and we look forward to doing such courses again, when they are appropriate.

Separately, a program initiated and supported by KMF within Myanmar, namely Education for Peace, invited Ted to teach an online introductory workshop in Co-Counseling in early September. The participants in this course were mostly recent graduates of teacher training programs offered by Departments of Education at Myanmar universities. These students have been through a series of trainings organized by KMF, helping them to rethink their role as teachers in broad terms that include reforming Myanmar education to be more student-centered, and helping to bring peace, sustainability, and self-reliance to Myanmar communities.

This workshop was held on two successive weekends on both Saturday and Sunday mornings, starting September 5th and ending September 13th. We found that the Zoom platform could allow for successful group sessions as well as periods during which students could exchange listening sessions in the privacy of breakout rooms. A number of students have continued to set up their own listening sessions following the course, and they have asked Ted to offer a follow-up to support their practice in early December.

A New Publication with Information and Reflections on the SENS Program

After sharing about our work in the SENS program under the umbrella of INEB and the Thai-registered Sathirakoses-Nagapradipa Foundation in various venues since 2016, Ted had the good fortune to be invited to attend a workshop in August of 2017 on civic engagement in Asia. The workshop, held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, was organized by the Institute of Asian Studies at Chulalongkorn University and the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies. Entitled Civic Engagement for a Just and Sustainable ASEAN: Our Stories and Practices, the workshop gave rise to an edited collection of articles by grassroots innovators, social entrepreneurs, and policy advocates on the work they have been doing. Ted worked on this volume as an associate editor along with Helen Hanna and Jeffrey Luzar, supporting lead editor Mochamad Indrawan in completing the work. This volume has a more personal tone than many works on sustainable development, as the authors reflect on their own learning process as they carried out what were often novel ideas in support of transformative learning and broader civic engagement. We on the SENS team are honored to be included in this volume along with scholars and social pioneers from Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, and other parts of Asia.

The volume is entitled Civic Engagement in Asia: Lessons from Transformative Learning in the Quest for a Sustainable Future. The book includes one full-length chapter by Ted on what we have aimed for and learned in the SENS program, along with two shorter essays by one of our students and one of our tutors. The book was published in September 2020, and Ted was invited to be a member of a panel at the first online book launch discussion that was held on November 7th, 2020. We are very grateful for the support and learning that we have received by being part of this network of Asian public intellectuals and by participating in the book’s publication and release.

We Are Still Recruiting for SENS 2021, to Run from May 2 – July 8, 2021

We now have 16 applicants for our SENS 2021 course, and we are engaged in selection interviews, further recruitment, and the necessary fundraising. Due to remaining travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19, we have decided to begin the SENS 2021 program in May, rather than the original January to April dates. Beginning in May gives us greater confidence in being able to bring an international contingent, and allows us to put more time into our first major revision of the SENS curriculum. This year we will focus on cultivating leaders—especially women—to take the lead in working for climate justice. Please see our attached brochure to learn more about this program. We are still looking for students and for tutors for this course, and we appreciate any efforts you may make in spreading the word.

Thank you once again for your kind support of our programs. While many aspects of the contemporary world seem to lay heavily on our shoulders these days, we are confident that human beings can find the courage to look honestly at the situation we face, and devise solutions that can allow all beings to flourish. We continue to regard the SENS program as one such solution.

Thank you on behalf of the SENS Core Work Team, consisting of Topsi Rongrongmuang, Lucy Burris, Melissa Storms, and myself!

Sincerely,

Ted Mayer

Ted Participated in the Online Book Launch
Ted Participated in the Online Book Launch
A Screenshot from the Online Writing Class for KMF
A Screenshot from the Online Writing Class for KMF
Learning via Movement in the Basic English Course
Learning via Movement in the Basic English Course
Online Co-Counseling Workshop for Young Teachers
Online Co-Counseling Workshop for Young Teachers
Co-Counseling Workshop for Myanmar Teachers
Co-Counseling Workshop for Myanmar Teachers

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Some Members of the SENS 2020 Cohort
Some Members of the SENS 2020 Cohort

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the INEB Institute Team! We have an update for you on our activities in the last 3 months.

The three months from March 8th to June 8th were extraordinarily eventful for us at the INEB Institute. During that period we completed the School of English for Engaged Social Service (SENS) 2020 program, and shortly thereafter we submitted an important grant for our SENS 2021 program.

SENS in Chet Samian

On March 9th, 2020, the entire SENS cohort moved from the Wongsanit Ashram in Nakhon Nayok to take up residence in the town of Chet Samian in the province of Ratchaburi for the remainder of the course, which was set to end a month later on April 8th. For the first time, we wanted to see whether the SENS program could function in the setting of a small Thai town. In Chet Samian we had found a very hospitable group of leading local residents, who had organized themselves into the Chet Samian Homestay Community Enterprise. Members of this group assisted us with lodging, food, classroom arrangements, and many logistical matters.

Surin, one of the key members of the homestay community enterprise, allowed his coffee house to be converted into a classroom and his homestay into the central campus of the SENS 2020 course. Another leader of the association, Ploynapas, helped with many of the housing and other arrangements. Students lived at various homestays scattered around Chet Samian, and rode bicycles to the large compound that served as the center of the program. The environment and the people in Chet Samian were very hospitable to us.

However, our planned month-long stay was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Already on June 18th we received emails from our Myanmar partners calling our two Myanmar students home. They quickly found flights, and after a tearful goodbye were on their way back to Myanmar within a few days. Just a few days later, our Indonesian student was also called back to Surakarta. Then, on the morning of June 25th, we learned that new travel restrictions could make it difficult for our Thai students to return to their homes. Furthermore, we might all be forced to spend an extended period in Chet Samian if we did not leave that very day. For this reason we hastily arranged for the final English language test and gave out the SENS 2020 Certificates, as this was to be our last day together. By that evening, everyone had packed up and said their good-byes.

Many students were able to return home immediately with hastily purchased tickets. But our student from Vietnam, plus two students and one tutor from India, were unable to find any flights home. By late June our Vietnamese student was able to fly back home with the kind help of the Vietnamese Embassy, but our Indian students had to remain in Bangkok. They continue here to this day due to the extended lockdown in India, and with thanks to another student, Oranuch Lerdkulladilok, who welcomed them at her ForOldy Center for supporting elders from poor communities in Bangkok.

All of this meant that we had to complete the class online. We felt it important to complete one of the planned presentations, in which each of the students chooses an image they find interesting and describes it with a carefully edited and practiced presentation of 6-9 lines. Throughout April Assistant Director Melissa Storms played a key role in supporting students through online meetings to practice these presentations as well as their graduation talks. We held meetings on Zoom on the 2nd and 16th of May to allow for the Image Description presentations. Then, on the 30th of May we held our Graduation Ceremony, at which all students gave short talks on what they had learned and their key goals for the coming years. The online graduation was attended by some 38 people altogether, including former SENS students and tutors, leaders of INEB, donors, and friends.

Preparations for a Redesigned SENS 2021

In May and the first part of June we began plans for submitting grant proposals for a somewhat modified SENS program in 2021. For that program, we will begin our 12-week program with a semi-independent 5-week program to support women’s leadership on climate change awareness, action, and policy advocacy. We are now seeking support to bring 12 women from Southeast Asia, in addition to another 6 participants (including men) who may be from Southeast Asia or from anywhere in the world. Our goal is to create a cadre of graduates who will have a very profound understanding of the climate crisis, its causes and impacts, and the various initiatives that will make the biggest difference in averting catastrophe. Through the SENS 2021 program we will provide them the tools for dramatically improving their skills in English, listening and mutual support, social analysis, goal setting, and bold leadership. We hope to find sufficient support to allow most if not all participants to continue on for the entire 12-week program.

The SENS 2021 program’s special 5-week section on supporting Southeast Asian women’s leadership in addressing the climate crisis will begin January 10th and end on February 13th. This will be followed by a 1-week break, and the program will continue for another 7 weeks, ending April 7th.

To prepare for the special 5-week program, we interviewed more than 15 women, mostly from Southeast Asia, on how climate change has impacted women and girls differently than men and boys in their area. We also asked what suggestions these women leaders had for how we should design our program. Through these interviews we met leaders of women’s centers in Laos and Vietnam, and spoke to many women who have already taken the lead in sustainability and climate issues. Many of them also recommended students for the program, as well as activities that would enhance our planned program. 

We are deeply grateful for your ongoing interest and support. Any donation you make here at our GlobalGiving page between now and January of 2021 will support the SENS 2021 program we have outlined above.

Once again, we send you our heartfelt thanks, and we hope that you are keeping safe in this critical time.

Ted Mayer

Director of the SENS Program, Academic Director of the INEB Institute  

 

Thy of Vietnam Receives Her SENS Certificate
Thy of Vietnam Receives Her SENS Certificate
Workshop on International Development by Toshiyuki
Workshop on International Development by Toshiyuki
The SENS 2020 Classroom at Chet Samian
The SENS 2020 Classroom at Chet Samian
Online Image Presentations Meeting
Online Image Presentations Meeting
Ouyporn Leads a Power Analysis Workshop
Ouyporn Leads a Power Analysis Workshop
Online SENS 2020 Graduation Ceremony
Online SENS 2020 Graduation Ceremony
Assistant Director Melissa Listens to a Student
Assistant Director Melissa Listens to a Student
Kasey Leads a Workshop on Consumerism and Media
Kasey Leads a Workshop on Consumerism and Media

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SENS 2020 Group Photo
SENS 2020 Group Photo

Dear Friends of the SENS Program,

This Quarterly Report covers the period from October 15th, 2019 to January 15th, 2020. During that time we engaged in a range of activities, from preparing our 5th annual SENS course to actually beginning the course in January. We are very pleased to report that with your generous gifts to our program through GlobalGiving, combined with assistance from others, we were able to fund 14 individuals from across Asia to join the SENS 2020 course. What did this require?

I. Selection Interviews

We are engaged in a process of cultivating leadership among young Asians so they are better equipped to help create harmonious local communities and to work to mitigate the effects of the global crises of inequality and climate breakdown. With this broad vision in mind, we think of them as world leaders. Indeed, with awareness of the real local and planetary issues, and a commitment to solve them, they may be leaders in a more genuine sense than many famous politicians.

To make the SENS course effective, we need to choose participants who are likely to carry on what they learn with us. They need to be open-minded, able to listen, and committed to working for the wider good (not only their own career or family). For this reason we take our selection procedure very seriously. We begin with student applications, then follow up when appropriate with a personal interview. That interview is carried out by the Director, Ted, and by the Assistant Director, Melissa. [Melissa is an experienced university lecturer in the areas of writing, rhetoric, literature, and the use of language to undo and respond creatively to oppression.] 

Through interviews over many months, including during this period, we identified roughly 18-20 students who would be excellent candidates to study in SENS. In fact, interest in the SENS program has been growing, and we were forced to turn away a number of highly qualified students, with a sincere invitation for them to apply to SENS 2021.

The 14 students we were able to fund come from the following countries: India, China, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar. This group includes students as well as young adults who work full-time. Nearly all of them are involved as volunteers or full-time workers who respond to the social issues that face their home countries and communities.

II. Biennial Conference or Our Sponsoring Network – the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)

In late October more than 200 individuals from around the world participated in INEB’s biennial conference that took place this year at the Deer Park Institute in Bir, India. This conference is important because it is a place for face-to-face meetings between individuals who are committed to understanding the contemporary world, and the place of spiritual or personal inquiry and social transformation in our time.

It is also the occasion for leadership meetings. In the conference and the leadership meetings, we have the chance to share what we are doing in the SENS program, to invite students and tutors, and to reaffirm the important place of SENS in the transformative programs of the INEB Institute for Transformative Learning.

Such connections have played an important role in allowing us to design and implement SENS programs in other countries around the Asian and ASEAN region.

III. Making it Possible for Students to Come

During the time that we are selecting students and also after completing this process, we become fully engaged in making it possible for those students to actually attend the course. Naturally this involves fundraising, but also working through the legalities of getting passports and visas.

1. Fundraising

We are delighted that with the help of the GlobalGiving platform as well as generous institutional and individual donors, we could support 14 students to attend our SENS 2020 program. We are deeply grateful for the ease of donation that GlobalGiving makes possible, which includes providing the documentation necessary for donors to receive tax deductions for their donations through GlobalGiving.

At the same time that we have increased confidence from the generous donations we’ve received, we see that we could do much more. If we had sufficient funds, we could easily have accepted four more students to attend. For this reason we will reinvigorate our efforts on the GlobalGiving platform, and think creatively about how we can make all of our fundraising more effective.

2. Documentation & Visas

Here we simply want to say that quite a number of our students come from marginalized communities who are sometimes seen in their home countries as second-class citizens. This means that many of our students need our advice and support to either obtain passports or to obtain the necessary visas to attend the SENS program. Our Logistics Coordinator Topsi Rongrongmuang is the one who expertly guides students from very different national backgrounds (and legal frameworks) to obtain the documentation necessary to bring the students.

IV. Opening Ceremony

Our Opening Ceremony took place on January 12th, 2020. The ceremony is a chance to bring together friends, supporters, and SENS alumni in the central Thai region to welcome new students and to offer an auspicious beginning to our three-month experience together. We are grateful to Dr. Pichai for offering opening remarks, and to Phra Maha Napan, a monk from the well-known Wat Saket and a graduate of SENS 2019, for attending and offering humorous and light-hearted encouragement to the SENS 2020 cohort. The students in the 2020 cohort also have the chance to speak publicly for the first time, saying who they are, where they come from, and what they hope to gain from the program.

V. Beginning the Program

The first days of our SENS program are designed to demonstrate to students that learning a language works well if it is done in a relaxed, enjoyable, and respectful environment. We demonstrate this by jumping immediately into activities that are accessible and fun for the students, and that help them to see quick improvement in their English skills. We also help the students remember their profound intelligence, and the value of the experiences they have accumulated over many years in their own local contexts. Even a highly educated resident of New York or Boston would be incapable of understanding the details of the local contexts that students have come to see and understand over many years. We assist the students in recognizing that their ability to communicate in English also allows them to share the wisdom and insights that they have acquired in their home communities. Furthermore, it allows them to share how difficulties manifest in those home communities, and to observe linkages with the stories of students from other parts of the world. This process in turn constitutes the very first steps in the formation of a worldwide network of young adults working to address and resolve common human problems, and to realize a kind of leadership and community that is based in compassion, nonviolence, and mutual understanding.

On behalf of the INEB Institute Work Team, I sincerely thank you for your continued support of the INEB Institute and its SENS 2020 Program. We are truly grateful to you all that your support is making it possible for us to run such an amazing SENS 2020 program.

With Metta, 

Ted Mayer

Academic Director

The INEB Institute

Students During SENS 2020 Orientation
Students During SENS 2020 Orientation
Academic Director Speaking at the Opening Ceremony
Academic Director Speaking at the Opening Ceremony
SENS 2020 Opening Ceremony
SENS 2020 Opening Ceremony
Students Performing a Sage Ritual
Students Performing a Sage Ritual
Students Listening on at a Lecture Session
Students Listening on at a Lecture Session
Group Activity During SENS 2020 Program
Group Activity During SENS 2020 Program
Academic Director Ted Facilitating a Session
Academic Director Ted Facilitating a Session
Asst. Director Melissa Overlooking a Group Session
Asst. Director Melissa Overlooking a Group Session
Students During a Group Activity
Students During a Group Activity

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Organization Information

Sathirakoses Nagapradipa Foundation

Location: Bangkok - Thailand
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @inebuddhists
Project Leader:
Theodore Mayer
Bangkok, Bangkok Thailand
$14,200 raised of $50,580 goal
 
201 donations
$36,380 to go
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