Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar

by Whispering Seed
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Support Teacher Trainings in rural Myanmar
Play for Peace Practice Peace Session
Play for Peace Practice Peace Session

8th Report for Rural Teacher Training in Myanmar
December 19th, 2015

 

Dear friends, family and supporters of our Teacher Training Programs in Myanmar,

We are pleased to share with you another report on the progress of the Teacher Training Programs here in Myanmar. As usual, it has been a busy three month period with many activities.

In particular, November was an extremely busy month as several trainers and volunteers were working with us to share a variety trainings here in Myanmar.

Play for Peace in Myanmar
Our dear friends from India, Swati and Agyat, skilled Play for Peace trainers joined us for the entire month. We first met Swati and Agyat in Thailand several years ago and since that time have been planning for them to come and work with us here in Myanmar.

Along with the support of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Socially Engaged Monastic Schools (SEMS), we were able to organize 5 Play for Peace Trainings. We began with  Play for Peace Training of Trainers (TOT) in Bago Region for a select group of skilled trainers, facilitators, community leaders and teachers. Key trainers joined the training from Myanmar, Laos and Thailand to make it an International Training for Trainers.

Following this, we moved to the central region of Myanmar to host another training at Phaung Daw Oo Monastic School. We then joined with Brighten Foundation and together a group of 6 trainers went to Southern Shan State to lead a Play for Peace and Youth Empowerment Training with a group of Pa-O youth from Naung Taung Monastic School and two youth groups from nearby Taunggyi.

Several Play for Peace groups were established and are now sharing their activities with each other throughout Myanmar and with the global Play for Peace community.

Swati and Agyat will return to Myanmar in June to do a followup series of trainings for alumni of the first trainings held in November and to reach into new regions of Myanmar to share Play for Peace. In February, a select group of alumni from the Myanmar trainings will also register to be certified Play for Peace trainers in Myanmar. We are grateful for Swati and Agyats amazing energy and commitment to sharing these skills with children and community members throughout Myanmar!

Democratic and Holistic Education Training Part III in Kachin State
As you may recall from previous reports, I have been working in Kachin State with several local groups to provide trainings for teachers in Holistic and Democratic models of education, and focusing on child development as well as sharing trainings with local communities in earthen building to support on going process of building a number of community based schools with sustainable buildings.

In November, as we went to Kachin State to share the Play for Peace trainings, I also had the chance to run the 3rd Training in Holistic Education as part of a series we have been providing to teachers from Kachin State over the last year. During this training we met with the same participants from the previous two trainings as well as new teachers.

The focus was on Child Development and specifically the development of the human brain and better understanding how the brain grows and how as teachers and parents we can use that knowledge to better address the needs of our developing children. The three day training was a huge success and we are looking forward to heading back up to Kachin State in the early part of 2016 to share the 4th Part of the trainings focusing on the Teenage Years and Tools for Parents.

Earthen Building in Kachin State
As part of our ongoing work with partner organizations in Kachin State, we are now supporting the development of 13 community schools by providing earthen building trainings. All of the local community schools are excited to learn earthen building so the communities can build their own schools.

In November we also taught a 2 Day Earth Brick workshop to 40 participants from several different communities around Kachin State. During the workshop we introduced the importance of earthen building as a community building process and introduced several topics, including some team building games from Play for Peace. We were able to make several hundred mud bricks and did the first site assessment for the building of the new school.

In January, I will return with our friend Richard, a New Zealand architect working with us who is based in Myanmar and Thailand. Together we will design the new school for the community just outside Myitkyina using Permaculture principles and earthen building. The preliminary design is for 6 classrooms, a library, administration building and play ground.

Since we have left, the community has already made several thousand bricks in preparation for Phase II workshop where we will put in the foundation, site design and put up the walls of the first classroom.

We are very excited for the second workshop scheduled for January 14-19th.

Bamboo Treatment Tank Workshop at Pa-O Monastery in Southern Shan State
As part of our work to support the sustainable development of monastic schools here in Myanmar we will be hosting the first of a series of Bamboo and Earth Building Workshops. On January 8-9th we will be hosting the Bamboo Treatment Tank workshop where we will train builders from all over Myanmar who are working in community development to build treatment tanks. The trainers will come from Thailand and Southern Shan State to build the tanks.

The first tanks will be started in Naung Taung Monastic School in preparation for the 2nd workshop in March where we will be joined by Indonesian trainers to lead the building of the bamboo classroom. Following this initial treatment tank workshop, there will be following workshops in the Dry Zone in Kyaubadaung at Shwenadi monastic school and another workshop in Kachin State so that we will have 3 areas focusing on the treatment of bamboo for sustainable and long lasting building projects. We are looking forward to sharing more about the next training we will be providing from now until March.

We will be working closely with the Head Monk of Shwenadi Monastic School pictured here to set up a Sustainable Training Centre at his monastery and to work with his students to make it an Eco Temple.

Head monk of Shwenadi changing to eco monastery
Head monk of Shwenadi changing to eco monastery
Site of New Sustainable Training Centre at Shwenad
Site of New Sustainable Training Centre at Shwenad
Kachin children in making mud bricks for school
Kachin children in making mud bricks for school
Democratic Education Forum Part III Kachin State
Democratic Education Forum Part III Kachin State
Pa-O Youth Empowerment Training in Shan State
Pa-O Youth Empowerment Training in Shan State

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Morning assembly with head monk
Morning assembly with head monk

7th Report for Rural Teacher Training in Myanmar
September 16th , 2015

Dear friends, family and supporters of our Teacher Training Programs in Myanmar,

It is the middle of the rainy season here in Myanmar and we continue to support teachers and students through our programs. Although the rainy season brings a slight lull in our trainings due to the weather, we have stayed quite busy. We are excited to share with you some of the most recent developments in our training programs to support the teachers and youth here in Myanmar to gain better access to new tools, techniques, methods and practices which support the holistic development of children.

New Integrated Sustainable Design for Buddhist Monasteries
Together with our colleagues Richard and Cheryl from New Zealand, we have started to support the development of several of the Buddhist monastic schools to become model sustainable schools. Using basic Permaculture (sustainable design principles) and earthen building techniques, we are working with the senior abbots, teachers and students to develop their schools to be designed in a more environmentally friendly manner. Together we are working to set up; new sustainable buildings, alternative power sources with solar, recycling and compost systems, organic gardens, edible landscapes, playgrounds and more. We are working with several other partner organizations to compliment and support their trainings in order to create a handful of model schools throughout the country. Currently we are working with Shwenadi Monastic School in Magway Division in the Dry Zone which works with primarily ethnic Chin children and Naung Taung Monastic School located in Southern Shan State working primarily with ethnic Pa-O children.

Bamboo Treatment, Bamboo and Earthen Building and Resilient Bamboo Forestry 
As part of the work with our friends from New Zealand, we are now working to support a series of on going trainings to be held here in Myanmar to support the further sustainable development of a few of the monastic schools we are working with. Together with partner organizations from Indonesia, we will be starting to host the first series of bamboo workshops in Myanmar.

Training of Trainers (TOT) for Monastic Schools
Together with our partner organizations, Socially Engaged Monastic Schools (SEMS) and Center for Promotion of Monastic Education (CPME) we held our second Training of Trainers. The training brought together alumni from several different teacher training programs to provide further skills training and to better develop their capacity, not just as teachers, but for them to also step into the role of training in order to further spread the new methodologies and knowledge on holistic education.

Testimonial from Teacher Training Participant
"The training has started a real change in me. I had a very traumatic childhood. I was always discriminated against in school; therefore I developed a habit of isolating myself from others. I hated working with others. I know these behaviors are bad but I couldn't help myself to abandon them even when I became a teacher. I used to be sad, feel powerless and cried often. I didn't expect that SEMS training would bring a change in me. At first in the training I couldn't describe how frustrated I was. I didn't enjoy being with other people in the training. But gradually I started to learn and like working with others. I began to enjoy talking with other people. I started to abandon my habit of crying whenever I am frustrated. And I began to see that other people are the same and we all are the same. Actually since my experience of discrimination I have to admit that I hate the Bamar people. But now I can reflect on that and change my attitude. This is one of the biggest changes in my life! Due to the self-awareness training I have learned to change my old attitudes and behaviors."

Upcoming
As the rainy season will come to an end over the next few months, our schedule will get even more busy. We have several trainings already lined up over the next few months, which include: Play for Peace trainers from India to come to Myanmar for one month of training, Brighten Foundation Youth Empowerment and Soccer trainings to be held across the country in November, Earthen Building Trainings to be held in Kachin State to finish kindergarten, further Training of Trainers with partner organizations in Kachin State, Upper Myanmar, further Permaculture and Earthen Building Design for monastic schools.

Head monk "greening" his monastery
Head monk "greening" his monastery
Training Session
Training Session
Sustainable Design for monastic school
Sustainable Design for monastic school
studying in the monastic school
studying in the monastic school
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Young ethnic Palaung Novices building earthen oven
Young ethnic Palaung Novices building earthen oven

Dear supporters of our Teacher Training Programs in Myanmar,

 It is now the beginning of the monsoon season here in Myanmar and thus our trainings slow down and planning is made for the rest of the long rainy season and for the upcoming cold, dry season following the ends of the rain. Over the last three months, we were also busy with two trainings and are excited to share that news with you.

Sagaing Monastic School, Sagaing Division (Dry Zone)
For a week, Jim spent time living at a small monastic school serving over 50 ethnic Palaung children who were coming from Southern Shan State. The majority of the young children were ordained as young, novice Buddhist monks. The school was part of the larger International Buddhist Education Centre in Sagaing.

 We focused on several projects with the teachers, primary care givers and Buddhist nuns who help to care for the children. The children and staff were all very interested in learning to make an earthen brick oven, and to learn baking and cooking. The aim of the monastery was to build the first oven there at the monastery, then make other ovens in Sagaing downtown area where they would be able to sell their baked and cooked goodies as an income generation project.

 Together we built a cob oven and learned several different kinds of breads, cakes and cookies. We also focused on various kinds of sweets and desserts which could be fried. To see the completion of the oven and then to be able to taste the banana chocolate chip cookies and homebread from the oven was very exciting!

 During the building of the earthen oven, we introduced several techniques of earthen building so the staff would be able to start making earthen bricks for further development of the project, including plans for building a meditation hall and better buildings for school and housing, which they can now to more efficiently, sustainably, cost effective and they have skills to do it themselves.

 We also introduced co-operative games for the children to play which promote peace, conflict resolution, team building and just pure fun in a non-competitive manner.

 We have plans for follow up training to further support the teachers, staff and children in various capacities.

Shanan Education Networking Group (Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay Division)
One of our partner organizations that we have been working with for several years now is the Shanan Education Networking Group. They provide teacher trainings each year during school breaks for teachers primarily from Kachin State, and those working with ethnic Kachin communities. This year we were excited to join them once again and provide support training and facilitation for their program and teachers.

Together we explored the challenges that teachers, parents and students face here in Myanmar and particularly those issues faced by ethnic Kachin communities. We introduced the principles of Holistic Education to the teachers. Through creative and cooperative processes, they explored the fundamental differences between holistic models of education and the current methodologies and theories used in mainstream models.

In the training we also explored holistic child development, early childhood psychology and new research on brain development were explored. Through practical activities and games we offered many tools and techniques to support them in their teaching. Hand skills which also support cross brain integration were introduced. These skills, knitting, crochet and bracelet making are also great projects and skills which the teachers and share wit the children and use as income generation projects.

Although the rainy season brings a more quiet time with the trainings, we were still very busy here at Whispering Seed supporting teachers and students learning processes here in Myanmar. We are wrapping up our planning for the next few months and look forward to sharing more of our stories with you in our next report.

 Warmest regards,

Jim

Buddhist nuns and novice income generation project
Buddhist nuns and novice income generation project
Novices learning "cob" making for house and oven
Novices learning "cob" making for house and oven
Kachin teachers exploring new models for education
Kachin teachers exploring new models for education
Handicraft teaching for Kachin teachers
Handicraft teaching for Kachin teachers
Teachers from remote Kachin State
Teachers from remote Kachin State
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Kachin Teachers Training of Trainers
Kachin Teachers Training of Trainers

Greetings from all of us here at Whispering Seed!

Here in the pine forests of Kalaw in Southern Shan State, the weather is changing and it is clear we are just on the cusp of the hot season. It has been another very busy three months here in Myanmar with several trainings to support teachers around the country. We have been working with several groups throughout the country to support the capacity and development of local teachers, in particular to further support a new generation of trainers. We are very excited about the positive energy of the young teachers we work with who are primarily between the ages of 17 to 23 years old.

Training of Trainers (TOT) Teachers Training (Myitkyina, Kachin State)
In early December I was invited to go to Kachin State to work with a group of teachers to provide a Training of Trainers workshop on Holistic Education for teachers from all over the State. The training stemmed from a previous trip in which a large group of Kachin Baptist and Catholic teachers, students and administrators joined a group of senior Buddhist monks from all over the country on an Exposure Trip to South Korea to look at Democratic Education.

Roughly 35 teachers attended the training from all over the state, including Saya Naw Zet, the founder and director of Shalat Education and Resource Center in Myitkyina. He also participated in our Exposure Visit to South Korea. Both of these experiences have greatly influenced the way in which he is running his school, and I look forward to collaborating with him in the future.

Follow up TOT for Teachers (Kachin State)
The 5 day training was a huge success. There was so much information to cover and so much enthusiasm from the group that on our final day of evaluation and reflection we decided to organize a follow up training for the teachers. The second part of the TOT was focused on Child Development and Child Psychology. We continued some of the Life Skills part of the training as well, teaching some handicrafts to the teachers.

Shalat Education and Resource Center Exchange Training (Kalaw, Shan State)
As a follow up to the training, Saya Naw Zet arranged for 10 of his students to come to Kalaw for 3 weeks to learn more about mud house building (as they are now building their own earthen school), baking, cooking, crafts and holistic education. Part of Shalat is a small wood working business that helps train the students and raise money for the school. While they have been in Kalaw they taught us wood working so we can build our own furniture for the opening of the Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre. (Please see our other report for Sprouting Seeds Learning Centre on Global Giving about their visit and our first official exchange and training at the new Learning Centre). We are very excited about this project and the ongoing exchange between Kalaw and Myitkyina that is has started.

Earthen Building Kindergarten (Myitkyina, Kachin State)
Following the TOT in Myitkyina, we stayed on for a few days to start the first earthen school in Myitkyina. We worked closely with our partners who are planning to open a small kindergarten in the city. This will be the first of several earthen school projects that we will work on in Myitkyina. The school was designed with help from our friends from New Zealand and Belgium. The kindergarten is in the shape of a heart with lofts for the children to climb in. The Director of the school along with the community members were filled with joy as the walls rapidly grew each day and the dream of their school slowly unfolded into a reality. We will return to Myitkyina in the next month to teach a final painting workshop for that building and help Shalat School with the beginning of their new school!

Senior Abbot Gathering for all of Southern Shan State
For three days in March a group of 22 senior Buddhist monks from all across Southern Shan State joined together at Naung Taung Monastic School, a Pa-O monastic school located just east of Taunggyi. During the Gathering the abbots were exposed to principles of holistic education and sustainability. On the final day of the training, we took the monks to an organic farm and training centre in rural Southern Shan State. Here during our reflection process, one of the Pa-O (a small ethnic group from Shan State) senior Buddhist monks shared his feelings and inspirations from the training by saying, “I am going to tear down the walls of my school and support the children to grow green like the trees!” This kind of impact and awareness raising, which is the basis for systemic change within their monastic schools and monasteries, was shared with the majority of monks who joined the 3 day Gathering. It was a great transition time for all of monks in the training.

Southern Shan State Teacher Training
Also while working Naung Taung Monastic School, we provided support training in English language and Holistic Education. The Naung Taung staff (young teachers and monks) have started to organize their own teacher training programs. I supported the training for 8 days with introduction to holistic education, child development and child psychology. There were over 40 teachers from Buddhist monastic schools from all over Shan State. The training was to support their development of teachers, promote holistic models of education and begin to create a network and support system among the teachers in Southern Shan State.

The next few months are scheduled full with more trainings all over the country. We are thrilled at the opportunity to be working with the local partners here in Myanmar and amazed at the motivation and passion for holistic education and creating long lasting change to support the youth of Myanmar.

Saya Naw Zet and Shalat students earthen oven
Saya Naw Zet and Shalat students earthen oven
Earthen building kindergarten in Kachin State
Earthen building kindergarten in Kachin State
Happy director of new mud kindergarten school
Happy director of new mud kindergarten school
Ethnic Pa-O monk who will "Green" his school
Ethnic Pa-O monk who will "Green" his school
Team building and networking with Buddhist monks
Team building and networking with Buddhist monks
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Morning at the monastic school
Morning at the monastic school

4th Report for Rural Teacher Trainings in Myanmar

December 1st, 2014

Warmest Greetings for the end of a successful year!      

As the cool weather rapidly falls upon the small town of Kalaw, in the pine covered mountains of Southern Shan State, we are pleased to share the final news with you of our teacher trainings in Myanmar for 2014. It has been a tremendously successful year with our Teacher Training programs and we look forward to your continued support as we make plans for 2015.

Brighten Foundation Training at Shwenadi Monastic School in Dry Zone

For the second year our friend Guisseppe Martinegi from Brighten Foundation based in New Zealand, joined us for another successful month of trainings. Shwenadi Monastic School is home and school to over 400 ethnic children from Chin State on the border with India. The program was a huge success and has started an on-going relationship with the monastery as well as a newly found Montessori Pre-School started in the town of Kyaubadaung. During our time with Shwenadi we offered;

  • Teacher Training
  • Youth Empowerment Training
  • Football (Soccer) Training for teachers and youth

Youth Development Foundation/Football for Hope and Brighten Foundation

For that last 2 years we have also been working with our Myanmar based partner U Ye and his Youth Development Foundation/Football for Hope. Together we held teacher training, youth empowerment and football training outside of Mandalay. Working with a local monastery with over 450 ethnic Palaung children, we also supported the monastic school and orphanage with basic health care and cleanliness of the compound and support better health among the children.

Inter-Cultural Education (ICE) with Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation (PCF)

Whispering Seed facilitated a 5 day workshop on Inter-Cultural Education (ICE) training for PCF participants from Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. Offering training to support ICE programs to be better integrated into their programs in the 3 different countries. Besides ICE, Whispering Seed also introduced holistic education, environmental sustainability and Non-Violent Communication (NVC) to the Pestalozzi team. The training was very successful and future collaborations are being planned together to bring more Inter-Cultural Education ideas and practices into the programs we are working with.

Holistic Education and Earthen Building Workshop in Upper Myanmar with Kachin Education Initiative Group (KEIG)

Over the next week we will be traveling to Upper Myanmar to work with KEIG in Kachin State. There we will working with teachers from various organizations who are working in different regions of Kachin State and Northern Shan State. Following the training we will designing and building an earthen building kindergarten for one of the KEIG members new project. More to come on this in the next report!

Overall we have had a very successful year reaching teachers and youth from all over the country. We are already planning workshops and trainings to start in January and continue throughout the year with our partner organizations here in Myanmar.

We are grateful for all your support and look forward to your continued support in the upcoming year!

Interfaith Exposure Visit to South Korea
Interfaith Exposure Visit to South Korea
Drawing your dreams with ethnic Palaung children
Drawing your dreams with ethnic Palaung children
Traditional monastic school setting in dry zone
Traditional monastic school setting in dry zone
Special training for Palaung girls
Special training for Palaung girls
Soccer training with young Buddhist novice monks
Soccer training with young Buddhist novice monks

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Whispering Seed

Location: Penn Valley, PA - USA
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Project Leader:
James Connor
Penn Valley, PA United States
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