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.
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,
Director of SENS and Academic Director for the INEB Institute
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!
The INEB Institute Work Team
Dear Kind Supporters of the INEB Institute,
We hope you all are doing well!
We are nearing that time of the year, where everyone gets together with their near and dear ones and celebrates with festivity and joy the coming of the New Year. We wish you a great holiday season ahead! May you all be blessed with warmth, love and happiness!
As we move towards the end of the year, as always, things start moving at a fast pace for us. This is because our core School of English for Engaged Social Service (SENS) program commences next year in early January. Yes! We are still receiving student applications, and are so very excited about our SENS 2019 program!
Interfaith Theme for Our Upcoming SENS 2019 Program
For the first time, our upcoming 2019 SENS program will incorporate a new theme, ‘Interfaith Understanding towards Peace & Sustainability’. To fully engage this theme within our course, we are ensuring that we have a diverse student cohort, with strong representation from major religious traditions including Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, while also welcoming those who follow indigenous, secular, or minority ethical traditions of different kinds.Our program will include new and enriching field excursions for students that willtake them to meet not only Buddhist but also Muslim, Christian, and Hindu leaders who are engaged in transformational work on behalf of their communities and/or the larger society. In addition, the course curriculum will take students on a journey where they will interrogate different religious and ethical traditions, in the process heightening and expanding their attention to the nature of such traditions. Students will also take up case studies on interreligious conflict, conflict transformation and harmony. A careful understanding of these would help to demonstrate the many social, political, economic, or cultural factors that enter into conflicts, the factors that lead to successful transformation of conflict, and the many hopeful examples of cross-tradition cooperation and peaceful coexistence.
To help diversify our recruitment for the upcoming SENS 2019 course, our director Ted has spent the full month of November traveling to give papers, presentations, and workshops on our program—its rationale, approaches, and objectives—in various countries of South and Southeast Asia. His work began with a paper presentation at the Bangkok Forum in late October. He then traveled to Myanmar, Indonesia, India, and Nepal. Doing so has encouraged a large number of new students to apply, and importantly these have included Muslims from Indonesia and even from Pakistan. We are still receiving applications, and we are pleased that we appear to have made very strong steps towards creating the kind of diverse student cohort that our interfaith theme requires. We believe this theme provides abundant opportunities for our students to grow in understanding of contemporary challenges, and to grasp their own potential as leaders at a difficult time in world history.
Strong Work Team for the SENS 2019 Program
What also adds to our excitement is that for the upcoming SENS 2019 program, we have recruited a very strong work team! Ted, our Academic Director has brought in two very experienced Assistant Directors who will assist him in the teaching and mentoring responsibilities of the course. One of them is Anuja, an Indian woman with strong experience in the IT and corporate sector, but who has also organized English and other trainings for young people. The other Assistant Director is Soeui Fah from Hongkong, a medical doctor who has shifted her work and interests to sustainability, and is also a member of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing (OI). In addition, Ted has also recruited three tutors who will assist him and the Assistant Directors during class sessions and for personal tutoring with students. Siew Joo is the first tutor and is from Singapore. She has worked with the Singaporean Government on education related issues. Olga is from Russia and has tremendous experience in heath and mind-body healing. The third tutor is Cindy from Canada, who has professional experience teaching English. We are really very happy to have a very strong teaching team, and are confident that the SENS 2019 program will be one of our most effective courses, delivering its outputs far beyond expectations.
Student Applicants Requiring Funding Support
Along with the recruitment of a work team, we are also moving ahead quickly and taking in student applications, taking interviews, and making final selections of students. Although we are receiving quite a number of applications where students have been selected for the program, the challenge is to provide funding support for them, asa majority come from marginalized or poor communities. Very few applying students are able to afford to pay for our program’s tuition fees.
Here are a few students who have applied and have been accepted into our program, but require funding support –
Sanpai, a Buddhist Woman Working for Inter-Religious Peace in Myanmar
Sanpai is a Buddhist woman from central Myanmar, who has been doing social work for over 6 years. Before she initiated her work in the social service sector, she was working with an institution in Myanmar that promoted awareness on democracy in her country. She worked there as a civil education trainer, as well as a women’s empowerment and peacebuilding trainer. As she witnessed the critical interreligious conflicts taking place in her country that rid her people and community of peace, she moved on to work for the organization ‘Religions for Peace’, and has since been working there for 2 years now. Sanpai has also established a tutoring school for high school students from poor families, who cannot afford the tuition fees of modern schools in Myanmar. She and her friends offer tutoring to these students for free.
Sanpai is working hard towards a visionary dream she has of bringing about inter-religious harmony and understanding in her country. To be able to effectively work towards that goal, she would like to develop her English language skills. She believes this is essential for her to perform better at the difficult work of inter-religious peacebuilding that she has to accomplish, which is very international in nature. Sanpai has to communicate and interact with several foreign organizations and individuals, and therefore having a stronger grasp of the English language in context to social service and engagement would be a huge step forward for her.
Sanpai has expressed interest to join our 2019 School of English for Engaged Social Service (SENS) program as a student. We feel that she has the capacity to gain in tremendous ways from our program, and take away valuable skills and knowledge that would strongly assist her in her work for inter-religious peace. Unfortunately, Sanpai does not have the required funds to pay for the tuition fees for our SENS program.
Fairuz, an Indonesian Muslim Man Working on Buddhist-Muslim Religious Issues
Fairuz is an Indonesian Muslim, and is currently working as a lecturer in the field of Religious Studies at the Islamic College of Sunan Pandanaran in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Fairuz has extensive experience in the area of inter-religious issues. Participation in some international inter-religious programs has also added to his understanding of the different factors that interplay and give form to the relationships between the major religions today. Fairuz was one of the Indonesian participants of the VICISU (Vienna International Christian-Islam Summer University) program held by the University of Vienna, Austria in Summer 2014. The program was aimed to build dialogue between Muslim and Christian students from all over the world. Another program that he has attended is the TAMU (Talk with Asian Muslims) Project in Tokyo, Japan. The three-week program was an initiative by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan to engage young Muslim leaders across Southeast Asia and Japanese society. The objective of the program was to promote moderate values of Islam, due to the misunderstandings in Japanese society that extremism was inherent to Islam. Fairuz was one of ten Southeast Asian Muslim participants and represented Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia.
Fairuz has applied to our SENS 2019 program, and believes that it will significantly empower him to pursue his life’s passions, both in the academic field and in his voluntary inter-religious initiatives in Yogyakarta. Fairuz feels that communication in English is a needed competence in both fields for contributing to his community. Since he is working in the area of inter-religious issues, there are a number of possibilities of networking and exchanges with international networks and organizations, especially the Buddhist community, as it is a large part of Southeast Asian society. Fairuz strongly feels that our 2019 SENS program will facilitate his learning journey, not only in the area of English language skills development, which is essential for his communication with outside religious groups, but also for the further development of his own understanding and recognition of inter-religious issues, especially between the two major religions in Southeast Asia, Buddhism and Islam. The 2019 SENS program provides the ideal platform for Fairuz to lift off, given that our course will be taught based on a thematic focus on interfaith understanding. We believe that Fairuz has immense potential to enhance his knowledge and capacity through our program, and gain all that he needs to go back to his country and contribute to the very important field of inter-religious harmony and understanding.
Like Sanpai, Fairuz also does not have the funds to cover the tuition fees for our program.
Fundraising Appeal for SENS 2019 Student Applicants
We know that the group of young adults who apply to our SENS program are hardworking and committed individuals, who aspire to give back in meaningful ways to their communities. They see our SENS program as a vehicle through which they can gain the empowerment and capabilities to achieve their dreams to serve the common good, and we want to facilitate their journey! We would like to do the best we can to remove any obstacles that come in the way. In light of this, we are making a request to all our friends. In order to financially support our students, we rely to a large extent on sponsorship from individuals or groups as well as on individual donations.
We encourage you, dear friends to take this opportunity to help sponsor some of our students so that they can participate in our SENS 2019 program. Even a small contribution from you has long lasting value that supports our students in so many ways! Please contribute to our project page on GlobalGiving. Inviting your friends or members of your networks to support us would also be of great assistance.
As we move into the last month of this year, time is short. There is lots to accomplish in this one month, especially on the fundraising side, as a lot of our student applicants are very motivated and inspired and would like to attend our program, but are unable to do so. However, this does not discourage us! Because we know that we are working hard towards offering our students the ever-blooming flower of education. Not a form of education that is conventional, but one which truly transforms from within, in a way that opens up the heart with compassionate wisdom, and leads to selfless action with awareness. We hope you will join hands with us in offering this flower to our students :-) .
That’s all from us with this last update before we switch gears into ‘program implementation’ mode in early January! We thank you again for your continued support for our transformative learning programs. We really are grateful for all that you have given to make it possible for us to offer true and meaningful education to young adults from around the world :-) .
With Love and Gratitude.
The INEB Institute Work Team
Dear Kind Supporters of the INEB Institute,
Greetings from Thailand! I hope you all have been doing well! We have some very exciting updates for you, as we prepare for our School of English for Engaged Social Service (SENS) program, which we will be offering to students with the appropriate interests and background from January – April 2019.
We are fast moving towards the last quarter of the year. This period is very crucial for us, as it determines how well we will have prepared to run our upcoming SENS program early next year. June to September is generally a time of planning and preparation for the INEB Institute work team. Student and tutor interviews and selections, communicating and advertising our program through different channels, it all happens now. The planning and preparation during this period are both near-term and long-term.
Our near-term work is focused around laying the necessary groundwork for what has now become our annual core program, namely, the School of English for Engaged Social Service (SENS) course that we offer January to April at the Wongsanit Ashram near Bangkok. That course is pitched at the level of Intermediate English, and we accept students who are anywhere from high beginners to lower advanced. Our long-term planning work is focused on proposal writing and negotiations with potential partners with a view to extending our core Intermediate English SENS program that we offer in Thailand in two ways. First, we are working on expanding the number of levels that we offer so that ultimately, we will have a full complement of courses that include Beginning English, Intermediate English, and Advanced English. Those courses will all retain the trademark approach of the SENS programs, which is to teach English as part of a holistic training program that supports and guides students’ growth in self-awareness, in understanding of the social and ecological challenges of our time, and in the confidence and capacity to direct their own life trajectory towards compassionate leadership. The second way we are hoping to extend our current work is to create the necessary agreements and conditions that would allow us to offer SENS courses in countries where we have partners with whom we are linked as sister organizations under the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB). Depending on developments under way now, some of those possibilities may even take place in the near term, that is in late 2018 or in 2019.
The following are some of the main activities and tasks that we have conducted and completed in the past three months -
Review and Selection of Our First Student Applicants
Students have begun applying and we have selected our first student from France! Also, a number of leaders have conveyed their intention to propose that one of their staff attend the SENS 2019 program, and those applications will be coming in over the next few months. Finally, we have the names of a number of individuals who have expressed great enthusiasm for joining the SENS 2019 course.
Steps Taken toward Hiring of a New Assistant Director for SENS 2019
Our excellent Assistant Director for SENS 2018, Lucy, is now completing her master’s degree at the School of International Training in Vermont. Lucy chose to remain in the U.S. to complete her degree and seek employment, and for this reason we have had to look for a new Assistant Director. This is a demanding process because in addition to high competency in English and the teaching of English, the ideal candidate for this position would also need to have a very good understanding of contemporary global environmental and social issues, and would be a compassionate and dedicated personal mentor for the students and tutors as well. As of September 6, we are very close to making a final selection from among roughly thirty candidates.
Announcement of the Need for Volunteer Tutors for SENS 2019
The SENS course works best when we have one competent tutor with a good understanding of our goals for every four to five students in the program. We have already been able to find one excellent tutor who will be able to work with us for the first six weeks of the program. We also placed an announcement in idealist.org for this position, for which we have had some responses. That link is:
Design and Printing of a Program Brochure for SENS 2019
Our work team came together to design a brochure for our SENS 2019 program. After several working drafts, we have come out with a final design of the brochure which has been printed and shared within our network. A soft copy of our brochure is attached with this report, and we encourage you, being our supporters, to also share it around within your network of family and friends. We are on the lookout for students and tutors, and it would be of great help to us if you could assist us in promoting and sharing about our SENS program with anyone who may be interested in participating as a student or tutor.
Design and Printing of a Program Poster for SENS 2019
Our work team has also designed a poster for our SENS 2019 program. We have been widely distributing this poster within our network, encouraging our friends and partner organizations to pin them at locations where they feel it may catch the attention of young adults who may be interested in participating in our program.
First Steps in Curriculum Planning on the Theme for SENS 2019: Interfaith Understanding towards Peace and Sustainability
Our theme for SENS 2019 will require a number of changes in the way we build our student cohort and in the curriculum itself. For example, we will need to ensure a high level of diversity of students, representing major faith traditions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism, but also representing indigenous religions as well as other kinds of ethical traditions. In addition, we will be expanding the section of our course that deals with the nature of religious and other ethical traditions, and we will include field trips that allow students to meet socially engaged religious leaders in Thailand who are Christian, Muslim, and Hindu, in addition to the Buddhists who represent Thailand’s majority. We have begun to do the networking to build a diverse cohort, and to do the necessary study and planning to make this dimension of our 2019 program meaningful and successful.
Attached with this report is a letter that our Academic Director, Ted, wrote to our network partners and friends. Ted has provided an in-depth overview of the Interfaith theme for the SENS 2019 program, where he shares about the significance of this theme and how it would benefit participating students.
Meeting and Networking with Members of the Buddhist-Muslim Forum
On July 9th, members of the INEB Institute work team joined INEB General Secretary, Somboon Chungprampree, in meeting with representatives of the International Forum on Buddhist-Muslim Relations, known as the Buddhist-Muslim Forum (BMF). BMF represents religious groups around the world who have a strong stake in building interfaith communication and understanding between these two religious’ traditions. As Buddhists and Muslims represent two of the dominant religious groups in South and Southeast Asia, and as tensions between these two groups have erupted in various locations and on more than one occasion in recent years, INEB takes this work of dialog and reconciliation to be of the greatest importance. Our SENS 2019 program will emphasize the theme of Interfaith Understanding towards Peace and Sustainability, and for this reason the meeting was an important opportunity to meet others who could be resource persons for our program planning. It also allowed us to think of concrete ways that our transformative learning work and the BMF’s larger mission could be mutually supportive. Link:
We have now had an announcement on the Buddhist Door website, and in the newsletter of the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers. This meeting is one of the kinds of steps that allow us to connect with a broader range of like-minded groups, and to begin to make plans for supporting each other’s work.
Completion of a Narrative Proposal and Budget for a SENS Advanced English Program of three months to take place in Maharashtra, India in the Fall of 2019.
Our connection in Maharashtra is with Buddhists who follow Dr. Ambedkar, and in this course, we would be working primarily with Dalits who have been through an 8-month training in mindfulness and social awareness. This would be our first course offering at the Level of Advanced English. We are currently waiting to receive the response of our partner organization, at which point we will be able to take the next steps.
Initiation of Negotiations with Partner Organizations in Myanmar for a SENS Beginning English Program for 2018 or 2019
There is the opportunity for a Beginning English SENS course to take place in Myanmar as early as late October of this year. The beginning level would be a one-month course, and it will require some important changes in our core course design. So, for example, we will be working with students who all speak the same language (Burmese), because this allows us to provide explanations through a single interpreter when necessary. Similarly, we will rely on translation to provide important substantive content on social, ecological, and personal growth issues.
Well, there you have it. That is a snapshot of what our work team engages in during the preparatory phases of our SENS program. These are very important phases, and we try to put in that extra bit of effort during this time to ensure that our program is able to provide the best transformative learning experience to our students.
We do hope you will have a look at our program brochure, and share it around. Please also have a look at our Academic Director Ted’s Letter on the new interfaith theme for our SENS 2019 program, he has shared some very interesting elements about our upcoming program. We are super enthusiastic to have a diverse group of students coming from major faiths around the world into one classroom! We anticipate that each student stands to gain tremendously in interfaith understanding and appreciation through the many interactions with other students coming from such diverse backgrounds!
That’s it from us. On behalf of the SENS work team, we wish you a happy year ahead! As always, we thank you for your continuing support for our initiative, that continues to contribute to the incredible field of alternative education and transformative learning.
With Warm Regards,
The INEB Institute
Dear Kind Supporters of the INEB Institute,
Hello! I hope you all have been doing well!
On behalf of the INEB Institute work team, I would like to sincerely thank all our donors who have continued to support our program. You may feel that your contributions to support our students are small, however, you all have no idea how great an impact your act of kindness is making in the lives of our students! Remember, all a seed requires is a few drops of water and some sunshine to sprout into a magnificent tree :-) . In light of this beautiful truth, we are deeply grateful to all of you for standing by us.
There is so much exciting news to share! A lot has happened since we last gave an update on our School of English for Engaged Social Service (SENS) 2018 program. Since early March, our students have embarked on adventurous, challenging, and informative fieldtrips in Bangkok and areas in the north of Thailand. We also concluded our SENS 2018 program with a closing ceremony in early April. The program has been a super hit! Our students gave very inspiring speeches at the closing ceremony, expressing their humble gratitude to Theodore, Lead Teacher and Academic Director of the INEB Institute, and Lucy, Assistant Director of the INEB Institute, as well as other teaching staff and supporters of the SENS 2018 program. They also shared about how the program has helped them give clarity in forming their professional and personal life goals moving forward. Post the SENS 2018 program, the INEB Institute work team has already started moving at a steady pace towards planning for the SENS 2019 program which will be offered next year from January to April.
The following is a list of major activities that we have engaged in between the period of March – June 2018:
March 9: TOEIC Test No. 3
Students took their 3rdTOEIC test to evaluate their English language improvement over the course of the program. Phoo was among a small group of students’ whose progress was steady and consistent, meaning that scores continued to get better with each test overall, and dramatically in the area of listening.
March 15: Field Excursion – Visit with Muslim Leader on the Human Rights Situation for Muslims in Thailand
Students visited a prominent Muslim Leader, to learn about her struggles for the rights of Muslims in Thailand. In the SENS program, almost all field excursions serve two functions: 1) to meet with leaders of Thai society in some dimension or another, as a way of inspiring students’ imagination about how they themselves could lead; 2) to come to understand the social contexts and issues that leaders had to grapple with in order to realize their dreams or to work for justice. Khun Angkhana is a Muslim leader and member of the Thai Commission on Human Rights.
March 15: Visit with Hotelier in Bangkok Who Is a Supporter of the SENS Program
Students met with Dr. Pichai, a hotelier in Bangkok who is a steady supporter of the SENS and other INEB Institute and SNF programs. His family has worked to provide free education to young boys from poor families for many years.
March 18 – 20: Field Excursion to Visit Phra Paisal, a Leading Thai Buddhist Intellectual, and a Leading Conservationist Monk
Our visit with Phra Paisal allowed students to meet a monk who is both a meditation teacher and a pioneer in living out a role of integrity for Thai monks in the contemporary period. He is the abbot of two forest monasteries, and one of the key issues they face is how to conserve the virgin forest that surrounds one of those monasteries in particular. He also has a broad philosophical view of the challenges and opportunities for human beings in the contemporary era, and we encourage our students to ask a wide variety of questions when we meet with him. Students also had the chance to assist with the monks’ daily alms round in a rural setting.
March 25 – 27: Workshop Led by Feminist Buddhist and Nonviolence Leaders, Ouyporn, and Ginger in Chiang Mai
Ouyporn and Ginger are among the top trainers in Thailand on the issue of power analysis as it applies to many areas of life, including gender. Ouyporn has developed her own very concrete approach to working towards healing and understanding, one that relies heavily on mutual listening practices and group games and activities that demonstrate how power is used productively or for oppression in society. Our students gained tremendous insight from Ouyporn and Ginger on gender, inequality and other important current issues which were shown through the lenses of power analysis.
March 28 – April 1: Student Presentations on Leaders Worthy of Emulation
Students gave presentations on the research they had done on leaders from around the world in many different areas. By chance we had also scheduled a meeting with Global Giving field staff during this period, and one of the Brazilian members of the team had the chance to hear Phoo's presentation on Brazilian conservation activist and pioneer, Chico.
April 1 – 4: Work Team Assists Students in Preparing their Final Statement for the Graduation Ceremony
We ended our program looking at signs of hope around the world in many dimensions, and we asked students to write a final statement on their long-term goals, practical steps they need to take to meet those goals, and how the course has assisted them in envisioning and working towards their future leadership in society.
April 2: TOEIC Test No. 4
We use the TOIEC Test as one rather independent measure of the students’ progress in English listening and reading comprehension. Following the 4th TOEIC test, all students showed progress, some very dramatically. Phoo again demonstrated consistent improvement in her scores.
April 4: Graduation Ceremony for SENS 2018, at the Maenam Resort in Nakhon Chaisri Province
The Graduation Ceremony at Dr. Pichai's Maenam Resort, Nakhon Chaisri, was an inspiring event where students presented their final goal statements and received their graduation certificates. The event was attended by a number of INEB friends and leaders, including Lodi Gyari, co-chair of the INEB Advisory Committee, and Dr. Yo Hsiang (member of the Advisory Committee) and his wife Grace. Ven. Pakchok of Nepal was also present, and gave a motivating speech to the students in an effort to give them some words of guidance as they moved beyond the SENS program back into their personal and professional lives. The Graduation Ceremony was an emotionally powerful event, where students freely expressed their emotions and feelings, sharing about the transformations they had gone through during the course, while they offered their hearts in gratitude to the teaching staff of the SENS program and other senior INEB leaders who were present at the ceremony.
April 5: Students Depart
Students departed from Wongsanit Ashram, the main residential campus of the SENS 2018 program, back to their home countries, taking with them a strong sense of fulfillment, and a hope for a better future for themselves, and their community.
April 7 – 8: Core SENS 2018 Work Team Meets to Evaluate the SENS 2018 Program
The core work team for the SENS 2018 program met for two days, again at the Maenam Resort in Nakhon Chaisri, to gather lessons from SENS 2018 and begin planning for the programs of the coming year.
April 15: SENS 2019 Application Form Completed and Uploaded to Website
In an effort to expedite the intake of student applications for the SENS 2019 program, the core work team completed the application form and uploaded it on the INEB Institute website. Applications are now open to students for our 4thcycle of the SENS program.
April 24: INEB Staff Decision to Establish a Special Interfaith Theme for SENS 2019. The Theme was Subsequently Decided Upon As: Interfaith Understanding for Peace and Sustainability
INEB and INEB Institute staff members decided that given the growing conflicts in Southeast Asia and elsewhere around religious identity, and the use of such identities by unscrupulous leaders to foment fear and divisiveness, it would be of great value to have this as a special theme in SENS 2019. We have already welcomed students who are Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu into our courses. We find that the course curriculum in itself tends to create empathy and genuine curiosity about cultural and religious differences among the students. For our SENS 2019 course, we will work hard to build an even more diverse cohort of students, and we will give additional prominence to this theme of cultivating interfaith understanding. We will seek to include in this diverse group those who follow indigenous spiritual traditions and those who follow ethical and personal practices in a secular vein.
April 25: Completion of First Article Reflecting on SENS 2018, for the INEB Newsletter, Seeds of Peace
Theodore, Lead Teacher and Academic Director of the SENS program, completed an article where he shared his first reflections on the outcomes of the SENS 2018 program. The article also shares the voices of the students, who have given some powerful statements on their inner and outer transformations that they experienced after participating in the SENS program. The article is attached here with this GlobalGiving report.
May 15 – Personal Student Reports All Sent to Students
Our course is built around learning to appreciate and support students in a genuine way, not in assigning a point score or grade to them. For this reason, we take the time to write a personal report for each student that outlines their strengths, their contributions to the learning community, their progress in various dimensions, and suggestions for further study and growth.
June 7 – Design and Text for SENS 2019 Program Brochure Nearly Complete
With the student application form already up on the INEB Institute website, the core work team progressed with further preparation tasks for the 4th cycle of the program. Having a well-designed brochure that has all the relevant information about our 2019 SENS program is an essential tool that assists us in our communication with prospective students and tutors, as well as potential donors and sponsors.
June 7 – Process of Sending Personalized Thank-You Notes to Donors, Sponsors, and Supporters within One-Week of Completion
We rely on the generosity and good will of many, many people to make the SENS program work for the students. For this reason, we take the time to send personalized thank-you notes to all who have contributed in different ways to the SENS 2018 program.
With just over 6 months left for the commencement of our next SENS program in January 2019, there is a lot to accomplish. In the next 3 months, the SENS core work team will continue preparatory work for the 2019 program, whilst taking in student and tutor applications.
The SENS 2018 journey was extraordinary in every sense! Not only for our students, but also for our lead teachers and our work team. With each cycle of SENS, our students grow in various dimensions; not only in English language skills, but more importantly in knowledge and awareness of today’s most emergent global issues such as climate change & environmental degradation, social and economic inequality; and also in the subtle faculties of inner growth, regaining a holistic spiritual understanding of their place in the universe in interdependence with others.
Once again, we express our warm and heartfelt gratitude to all our kind supporters for making it possible for students from all over Asia to tread along this unique journey into the realm of transformative learning through our SENS program. We look forward to updating you with work progress on our SENS 2019 program in our next report.
Till then, we wish you a happy summer!
With Warm Regards,
The INEB Institute
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