Monday, May 21, 2007

Senior Dinner a Night to Remember

This past Tuesday night the senior class was treated to a feast in the Thomas Dinning Room. In what has become a wonderful end of the year tradition the seniors made requests for several specific dishes to be prepared for them. The meal fell on Tuesday because it was the last day for seniors to hand in work, and serves as a celebration of the four years of hard work. After a work study of planting potatoes that will feed next school years community, they made their way to Thomas House dressed for the occasion. There were traditional requests for things like sushi, falafel, shish-kabobs, and chocolate mousse along with more eclectic requests for things like a marzipan bowling ball, and a "pound burger" that rounded out the menu. Several faculty members put together all the food for the meal, while two requested wait staff did all of the service. The meal lasted a little over two hours by which time all seniors had eaten their full. Coffee finished and dessert plates clean, they thanked all the cooks and waiters for the hard work before leaving to digest.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Meeting School Now Open to International Students

In an exciting development, we are beginning to look for a few
international students to add enrichment and diversity to our community.
Last week, the school became authorized under Federal law to enroll
nonimmigrant alien students. This new ability actually restores an old
program of ours which had become too bureaucratically difficult after
9/11/2001; in the 1990's we regularly enrolled a foreign student, often
from Japan, every year or so. Various faculty members speak Mandarin,
French, and Spanish fluently, and we would be able to provide cultural
support to students from Korea and Japan as well. It’s still too early
to tell what next fall will bring, but hopefully future years will see
international students on our campus, as a great complement to the
international trips that are already a regular part of our Intersession

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tibetan Parliament Official Visits Community Meeting

Usually, guest speakers visit the school on Saturday morning for our
Forum, but one of the virtues of small size is flexibility, and
yesterday the Quaker network provided an exciting opportunity for us as we opened our Community Meeting to a visit by a Tibetan official.

Tenzin Norbu is an Under-Secretary of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile in Dharamsala, India. The Tibetan Parliamentary Secretariat “undertakes the responsibility of the preparation of parliamentary procedures and practices and makes arrangements for recording the formal proceedings of the House,” according to the website of the Central Tibet Administration, the Tibetan government-in-exile. Norbu acts as the
Secretariat’s spokesperson, and works closely with the members of the
Parliament from throughout India, Bhutan, Nepal, Europe and the
Americas. He works on social, legal and political issues affecting the
Tibetan community-in-exile and on efforts by the Dalai Lama to find a
peaceful resolution of Tibet's issues. He is also knowledgeable about
the changing face of the Tibetan freedom movement.

In 2002, Norbu studied American legislative practices in the California
and Connecticut state legislatures, at Tulane University, and in the
U.S. Congress. According to a New York Times article about him at the
time, he and a colleague “were sent to the United States by Samdhong
Rinpoche, a scholar at the Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies
in Varanasi, India, who was elected the Tibetans' first exile prime
minister last year.”

Most of us didn’t know about his background as he walked up to join our
circle. This week’s Community Meeting was held outside, in the shade of
the orchard, and he was delighted to be able to join us sitting on the
grass, turning down a chair we offered him and explaining that sitting
cross-legged made him feel like he was back in India. He spoke for about
forty minutes, starting with an overview of the situation in Tibet and
of the Tibetan community in exile. He then spoke about some basic points
of Tibetan spiritual and ethical practice, sharing common stories from
Tibetan culture and introducing the Eight Verses for Training the Mind.
He took questions from community members about what nonviolence means to
the exile community, and about Tibetan beliefs about reincarnation and
future lives.

Tenzin Norbu also spoke at Franklin Pierce University earlier in the
day. Some Meeting School students and faculty attended his speech there,
which was part of the “Tuesday Briefings” series of the Marlin Fitzwater
Center for Communication

His visit to the area was arranged by Jackie Stillwell and board member
Nancy Lloyd (also a Franklin Pierce teacher and member of Monadnock
Friends Meeting
), working with Betsy Bragg, a Quaker from Wellesley
Friends Meeting
who has been helping Norbu make contacts in the Boston
area. He was in the Monadnock region in conjunction with a visit by the
Dalai Lama to Smith College.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Senior Minutes are a work in progress

Last week we began brainstorming ideas for departing senior minutes. Each spring after vacation we begin this tradition of sharing memories of each senior and their journey at The Meeting School. For those who don’t know a “departing minute” is each seniors diploma. The community brainstorms each senior to come up with a list of things that might be written in this departing minute. A smaller committee of two or three people then write a draft to bring back to the community for consideration, and edits. In final form, each minute is around 200 words long, lettered in calligraphy on a large piece of poster board, and has artwork done by a chosen community member. The minutes aren’t heard or seen by the seniors until graduation day when its read to them in front of family and friends. With 7 seniors to brainstorm and write minutes for this year we have plenty of time to do a wonderful job on each one. What makes these minutes so special is that every graduate from the last 50 years has their own unique diploma. Not only does it remember that senior, but it lets that senior remember the people that cared for them.