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
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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To Our Generous Donors, Supporters, and Followers,

The following is an update prepared for you on recent developments in the School of English for Engaged Social service (SENS) and related projects.

This report covers the period from early May to late August 2019.

Introduction

The SENS program has proven itself to be a reliable vehicle for transformative learning. We have seen each cohort of students leave with newfound self-confidence, the ability to listen more deeply, a greater understanding of the social and ecological crises we face, and a determination to plan a life that will both realize personal dreams and respond to the challenges of our time.

The purpose of this report is to keep you apprised of developments in this program. Our activities in the period covered by this third quarterly report fall into four main categories:

1)   Preparations for SENS 2020

2)   Raising visibility and appreciation for the work of the SENS program

3)   Supporting SENS alumni

4)   Expanding the work of SENS into new areas

We provide details on these activities below.

1 – Preparations for SENS 2020

Director Ted traveled to his family’s home in the U.S. during May and the early part of June. On each trip to the U.S., Ted purchases literature and materials to be given to students during the course, as well as new books and materials to enrich the INEB Institute and SENS library. Such materials are of course important as they expand on the kinds of reading material that students can make use of at their leisure in the comfortable library at our Wongsanit Ashram campus during the three-month course.

In preparation for each year’s SENS course, we need to update the Student Application Form and create a new brochure. We completed these activities during this period thanks primarily to the work of Topsi, our Logistics Coordinator, but also with the help of many others, including a graphic designer and a very flexible and accommodating printing house.

Of great importance during this period is building the work team, which includes finding a suitable Assistant Director and building a strong team of tutors. We are pleased to announce that we have hired a new Assistant Director for 2020, Melissa. Melissa is a citizen of the U.S. and a resident of Phuket, Thailand. She has an MA in Rhetoric and Composition, and a passion for language, writing, and cultivating analytical and critical thinking skills on behalf of peace and social justice. Inspired by transformational educator Paulo Freire, she has extensive experience in, and explored the boundaries of, teaching composition in a variety of venues. Among the courses she taught in the Northwest of the U.S. are: “Analytical Writing: War and Peace,” and “Research Writing: The Path to Genocide.” She received the “Inspirational Teacher of the Year Award” in 2011 from the University of Washington (CSE). We welcome Melissa to the work team. Her energetic approach to work has already given us confidence that she will contribute to making the SENS project sustainable in the medium- to long-term.

2 – Raising Visibility and Appreciation for the Work of the SENS Program

We know that the more people are aware of the quality of the work we do in SENS, and of our commitment to our students, the more we will attract students of high caliber from an even broader range of countries. Likewise, our visibility will tend to encourage support of many kinds, including financial support that can be used to offer scholarships to students with few resources. One way to heighten this visibility is to share the results of what is in fact a form of ongoing pedagogical research. This research asks how we can combine the teaching of English, leadership, and critical thinking skills in such a way that students’ self-concept, joy in learning, and capacities for transformative work in the world are truly strengthened by the course.

To this end, Director Ted has given much of his time to various writing projects. The first is a book chapter entitled, “In These Troubled Times, Could Every Classroom Become a Site of Transformation? The Story of the SENS Program,” to be published in a volume of papers on innovative civic engagement and transformative learning programs in Asia, edited by Dr. Mochamad Indrawan, a research scientist at the Research Center for Climate Change of the University of Indonesia. One SENS alumnus, Sabin, and one tutor, Mahesh, also wrote short essays on their experiences in SENS for this volume, which is expected to be published in early 2020. Ted is also developing a paper for publication that he presented at the International Symposium on Religious Life (ISRL) in Yogyakarta in the fall of 2018. Entitled “Grounds for Appreciation: Building Interfaith Solidarity by Engaging in Shared Projects and Facing Common Challenges,” the paper describes the interfaith work of the SENS program and is expected to be published early next year by Analisa, the journal of the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Ted also participated in the organizing of a conference on civic engagement and transformative learning that took place in Solo, Indonesia in late August of this year. He represented the INEB Institute at a conference that brought together academics and activists from around Southeast Asia and beyond, large numbers of young adults from Indonesia, and the mayors of a number of Indonesian cities (and one from southern Thailand), who are actively working for sustainability and for participatory governance in their cities. The conference was entitled: Civic Engagement 4.0 – The Solo Forum. It was co-organized by Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok), the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS, Yogyakarta), and Kota Kita (A City for All, based in Solo), an NGO working for citizen participation in the design and development of cities. 

3 – Supporting SENS Alumni

One of the long-term aims of the SENS program is to create a community of alumni who continue to grow beyond the three-month program and who constitute a mutually supportive community. Towards this aim, we are always on the lookout for scholarships, internships, and innovative university programs that our alumni may want to apply for.

We mentioned above that two of our alumni were able to engage in a writing project for publication. This is one kind of support we have been able to provide. A second form of support is when we are able to invite our alumni to conferences and workshops where they can carry on their learning and collaboration. This was the case with the Civic Engagement 4.0 program in Solo, Indonesia. Keen to create an interactive conference to the extent possible, the organizers of the conference planned for a full afternoon of workshops. They also generously provided funds to bring assistants who could offer support to the leaders of the workshops. Two of our alumni, Dewi of Indonesia and Khudoh of Myanmar, were supported to attend the conference and to assist Ted in presenting a workshop entitled, “Listening Partnerships: Living Fully and Leading with Integrity in a Time of Crisis.” We continue to look for ways that we can support our alumni. The Civic Engagement conference was one very positive example of what we can do with the help of like-minded partners.

Following this conference, Ted gave a presentation entitled “How to Assess and Respond to Contemporary Global (and Local) Crises,” at the kind invitation of Yayah Khisbiyah, Director of the Centre for the Study of Culture and Social Change of the Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta. At this event, Dewi shared her experiences of SENS 2019, speaking to the 30 or so students and professors in Bahasa, Indonesia; in doing so, she greatly contributed to the warmth of the reception given to the talk. We are very grateful to Yayah and her team for their invitation and support. 

4 – Expanding the Work of SENS into New Areas

A final area that we have been working on in the past few months is expanding the offerings of SENS. The annual SENS course that takes place in Thailand from January to April every year is intended for Intermediate to Advanced learners of English. We have long wanted to experiment with offering a SENS course for Beginners, and in August we had the chance to plan for such a course with various partners of INEB in Myanmar. There was great interest from four organizations, and plans were completed in August to offer a four-week course in Yangon with the first three weeks in an “Office Format,” which would require students to study from 8:00-12:00 every weekday and continue with their office work in the afternoon. The fourth and final week would be in “Retreat Format,” meaning students would be able to dedicate  themselves fully for that week to the course content focused on English and leadership.

Please stay tuned for our next report, due by the end of the year, for further developments in the SENS program.

Thank you very much for reading, and for your ongoing support.

Warm regards,

Ted Mayer, Director of the SENS Program

Collaborators at Civic Engagement 4.0 Forum
Collaborators at Civic Engagement 4.0 Forum
SENS alumnus speak to audience at UMS in Indonesia
SENS alumnus speak to audience at UMS in Indonesia
Director Ted's message at MU Seminar
Director Ted's message at MU Seminar
Presenting a token of appreciation to SENS alumni
Presenting a token of appreciation to SENS alumni
SENS alumnus listening at Civic Engagement Forum
SENS alumnus listening at Civic Engagement Forum
SENS alumni Khudoh & Dewi at Solo, Indonesia Forum
SENS alumni Khudoh & Dewi at Solo, Indonesia Forum

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Welcome for SENS Students from Muslim Community
Welcome for SENS Students from Muslim Community

To Our Generous Donors, Supporters, and Followers,

We would like to update you on developments with the School of English for Engaged Social Service (SENS) and related projects.

Introduction

This report covers the period from early March until early May 2019.

The most important news we have to share is that we completed SENS 2019, our fourth annual School of English for Engaged Social Service program, successfully on April 3rd, 2019. The growth we saw in students again this year, and their enthusiastic response to the initiatives we take in the program, have renewed our confidence that the SENS program is both meaningful and worth all of the effort required. We are now beginning work on the SENS 2020 program. Your support, whether it be in the form of verbal encouragement, donations, letting others know about the program, nominations of students, suggestions, willingness to volunteer as a tutor, or in other ways will be deeply appreciated as always.

Important Activities in the Last Month of the SENS 2019 Course

Completion of the SENS 2019 program involved 1) a Power Analysis Workshop with Ouyporn Khuankaew in Chiang Mai; 2) Various classroom projects; 3) A field visit to two Muslim communities near Bangkok; and 4) our Graduation Ceremony.

The Power Analysis Workshop with Ouyporn Khuankaew is always a highpoint of the course because students have the chance to work with a facilitator who built a successful training center in her natal village, and because her approach is a skillful combination of posing deep questions, eliciting thinking from students, and questioning gender and other power hierarchies. One challenge we faced was that this year the air in Chiang Mai was especially polluted in March due to the burning of fields in the entire north of Thailand. Nonetheless, students made do with masks and good humor, and we have scheduled next year’s visit for February so as to avoid this difficulty. Such occurrences also reflect the state of things in the world and in Southeast Asia, and thus motivate discussion and reflection on the part of participants.

This year for the first time we took students to two Muslim communities in the area of Nong Jok near Bangkok. We were very kindly assisted in this by Professor Padtheera Narkurairattana of Mahidol University in Bangkok. Professor Padtheera has worked for many years on the status of minority religious groups, including Christians and Muslims, in Thailand. Our visit this year was a first step in incorporating visits to non-Buddhist communities in Thailand as part of our interfaith theme, and it allowed our two Muslim students (from Indonesia and Pakistan) to encounter brothers and sisters in the faith from culturally very different communities.

All students were received very warmly at an important historical canal in the area, and at the Kamalun Islam Mosque by local (and national) Muslim leaders.

In the classroom during the last part of the program, students give a number of presentations as a part of their English practice, and as preparation for their final talk at the Graduation Ceremony. The presentations include one that describes an image chosen by the student in carefully corrected English, and a second in which students must do research on any leader they find inspiring, compose and edit a presentation on that leader with help from tutors, then present it to the whole class. These presentations were profoundly engaging, and showed huge progress on the part of all students. A number of students chose leaders from their own country who were clearly outstanding examples of social service and/or visionary thinking. Yet it was strange how many of us had not heard of them or of what they had accomplished. This was for many of us a genuine learning experience, crossing cultural, historical, and ethnic boundaries.

Students then went on to read a very difficult pamphlet on the importance of long-range goals, and wrote their own talks for Graduation Ceremony outlining both what they had gained from the program and what they planned to do for themselves, their families, and the wider world in the short- and long-term. Again, we saw remarkable improvements in fluency from many of the students, and their expressions of what they saw as important personal and social goals were often very moving. The Graduation Ceremony was very kindly sponsored by Dr. Pichai Tangsin at his Nakhon Chaisi Resort near Bangkok. Dr. Pichai along with his Mother Malee Tangsin also supported one of the monks who joined our program as a student with a tuition scholarship. This year Dr. Pichai also very generously invited us to come a day early and stay overnight at the resort so as to prepare us well for the Graduation Ceremony itself. April 4th-6th saw heartfelt good-byes as students and tutors returned to their home countries.

Evaluation and Assessment

Assistant Director Soeui Fah joined Logistics Coordinator Topsi Rongrongmuang and Director Ted Mayer for a two-day evaluation soon after the close of the program. We studied the program’s successes and failures to see how we could improve the program for the next year. One such success involved students’ scores on the TOEIC exam (Test of English for International Communication), which we offer in a realistic practice form four times during the program. One student from Myanmar scored 150 on the first exam (very Low Beginner), 275 on the second (Beginner), 340 on the third (Low Intermediate), and 425 on the final exam (Strong Intermediate). It would be hard to wish for a better example of progress. Many students showed progress in these exams—from moderate to dramatic—even though we do not teach specific techniques on how to take the TOEIC.

We take the TOEIC scores and compare them to our observational assessment of students’ progress in English, then record our assessments of each student’s contribution to the learning community, as well as their growth in leadership and in other areas. These assessments we send along with encouragements and suggestions to each of the students in the form of a Personal Student Report. The Personal Student Report along with reports and thank-yous to donors have been a big part of our post-program work in April and early May.

Our evaluation also highlighted the fact that SENS 2019 had been full of unexpected challenges beyond anyone’s control. For example, one student had extraordinary difficulties obtaining a visa, making her weeks late for the program. Several members of the work team had to work overtime repeatedly to resolve the situation. A key member of the work team who was to share responsibilities with Assistant Director Soeui Fah had to return two days before the program due to a family emergency and was unable to return; and one of our regular workshop leaders was unable to come for a similar reason. We realized that with a strong enough curriculum on the one hand—one that has a clear logic, flexibility, and a humane rhythm (classroom work, workshops, field trips, films, and rest), that can connect with students and their self-understanding—and with a strong enough work team on the other hand—one that was willing to offer insights and new ideas as well as to work long hours—we could still run a strong program in spite of severe challenges. These observations have encouraged us tremendously to go on to plan and prepare for next year’s program.

Looking to the Future – SENS 2020 and Beyond

The SENS 2020 program will take place from January 12th to April 8th, 2020. We welcome applications from students throughout the world who have at least a Beginning Level of English, and who can show some record of commitment to working for the welfare of others. In anticipation of next year’s course, we will work to clarify and simplify our curriculum, while also incorporating insights and new ideas from our gifted work team. We will also welcome donations and sponsorships from individuals or organizations who would like to support the students we select, or who would like to nominate and support their own staff or colleagues to participate.

Beyond the SENS 2020 program, we are also now in discussion with partners of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) to consider opening Beginning Level SENS courses in neighboring countries in Southeast Asia and even further afield.

Finally, we want to express our heartfelt wishes for the convalescence of our Fundraising Officer, Arjun Kumar, who was hospitalized with a serious illness, but is now on the mend.

Thank you so much for your support and interest in our work. We welcome your suggestions and feedback as well.

With gratitude and on behalf of our entire team,

Ted Mayer

Director of SENS and Academic Director for the INEB Institute

Participants with Hosts at Kamalun Islam Mosque
Participants with Hosts at Kamalun Islam Mosque
Dream Market - In-Class Activity Offering Gifts
Dream Market - In-Class Activity Offering Gifts
Small Group Discussion in Class
Small Group Discussion in Class
In-Class Photo of a Student from Indonesia
In-Class Photo of a Student from Indonesia
A Student from Myanmar Gives Her Graduation Talk
A Student from Myanmar Gives Her Graduation Talk
SENS Graduation Was Held at Nakhon Chaisi Resort
SENS Graduation Was Held at Nakhon Chaisi Resort
A Last Night Together on the Chao Phraya River
A Last Night Together on the Chao Phraya River

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Bangkok Field Trip - Students Pose
Bangkok Field Trip - Students Pose

Dear Kind Supporters of the INEB Institute,

We hope you all have been doing well, and are in good spirits!

We share with you an update from the field. The entire period covered by this report has been one of intensive work by all members of our work team. This report covers key aspects of the work we undertook.

During the period just before the three months covered in this report, Director of the SENS program, Ted, traveled extensively for teaching, workshop leading, attending INEB-related meetings, and raising interest in the School of English for Engaged Social Service (SENS) program for 2019. This meant that we entered the period of this report with a rather large number of applications for the SENS 2019 course. These came from India, Indonesia, Myanmar, and elsewhere. The challenge was to work to select the very best of the applications, then to secure funding for as many of them as possible.

Our target for SENS 2019 was to select 18 students to join the course and to provide funding sufficient to support all those who needed support. In the end we were able to meet our goals. This involved -

a. Interviewing a larger number of students than usual, and selecting those students who would stand to benefit the most from the course as well as contribute the most to the learning community. Ted was assisted in this process by Assistant Directors Anuja of India and Soeui of Hong Kong. In the end we selected approximately 21 students.

b. Finding funding for the students selected involved very intensive work on the part of all members of the work team for the full month ending on our opening date (January 6,, 2019). This work involved the Director, Assistant Directors, Logistics Coordinator, and the Fundraising Coordinator.

c. Concretely, the work involved producing a document with bios and photos of each of the students who still needed funding. This document we then sent out in a number of ways, including through GlobalGiving. Following this, members of the work team gave very generously of their time to speak with friends and family members and to encourage them to donate. Motivations were high as our brief profiles of each of the students made clear the quality of the students we would be able to bring in if we had adequate funding. The GlobalGiving platform proved extraordinarily helpful during this process in two ways. First, family members and friends spread out across the globe could easily donate because of the simplicity and accessibility of the GlobalGiving platform. Second, our GlobalGiving page URL was displayed prominently as one of two or three important avenues through which people could donate. It thus gave options to those wishing to donate.

Once funding was guaranteed for each student, then work began on submitting visa applications and securing the necessary visas. Our Logistics Coordinator Topsi worked tirelessly for many weeks to make this happen, until all 18 students had arrived at our campus.

The Opening Ceremony of our SENS 2019 program was held on January 6, 2019. Students were welcomed, and talks were given by INEB General Secretary Somboon, Dr. Pichai, Dr. Greg, and Academic Director of the SENS program Ted. Students were also given the opportunity to express their aims, motivations and expectations from the SENS course.

The first class was held on January 7, 2019. There was steady work on English, and on creating a supportive and appreciative environment, in which students learnt not only with greater joy, but also more quickly and more deeply.

Our students embarked on their first field trip to Bangkok from February 9 - 12, 2019. The trip included a visit with Ajahn Sulak, Founder of INEB, paying respects to Lodi Gyari, a strong supporter of INEB programs (who recently passed away), a talk by Phakchok Rinpoche as the annual lecture of the Spirit in Education Movement (SEM), interviews with Ven. Dhammananda at her temple in Nakhon Pathom, and interviews with local rights activist Kon-uma of Bo Nok in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Each of these visits provided the course group not only the chance to meet outstanding leaders but to learn from their experiences and perspectives on working in the specific social contexts of the Thai sangha and Thai models of development.

The second field trip was held from March 2 – 4, 2019, to visit conservationist monk Phra Paisal at Wat Pa Mahawan in Chaiyaphum. Students learnt about the work of monks to conserve forests as well as to conserve the higher values of inner freedom and inner peace in a context of rampant materialism and consumerism. Students and the course group also had a chance to experience the forest first hand. Each such field trip provides a chance to see many styles of leadership and to understand the components of leading with integrity.

We have another one month left until our SENS 2019 program completes its 4th cycle. The program till now has been throughly fulfilling for the students, who have gained valuable learning exchanges with renowned activists and Buddhist monks during the field trip visits, and through their own interactions with one another in the classroom environment at Wongsanit Ashram.

That’s all we have to report to you for now. Stay tuned for some very exciting updates in our next report, as we will share with you about all the great things that happened in the last month of our SENS 2019 program.

Wishing you all a great year ahead!

With Metta,

The INEB Institute Work Team

SENS 2019 Program Opening Ceremony
SENS 2019 Program Opening Ceremony
Students Discuss During a Classroom Session
Students Discuss During a Classroom Session
Bangkok Field trip - Meeting Ajahn Sulak
Bangkok Field trip - Meeting Ajahn Sulak
SEM Annual Lecture with Phakchok Rinpoche
SEM Annual Lecture with Phakchok Rinpoche
Students Visit Ven. Dhammananda's Monastery
Students Visit Ven. Dhammananda's Monastery
During a Field Trip
During a Field Trip
Students Listen on to Phra Paisal
Students Listen on to Phra Paisal
Alms Round With Monks During a Field Trip
Alms Round With Monks During a Field Trip
Students at a Forest Temple - Chaiyaphum, Thailand
Students at a Forest Temple - Chaiyaphum, Thailand
Students Meditate with Monks
Students Meditate with Monks

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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
$16,274 raised of $50,580 goal
 
266 donations
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