Thursday, November 19, 2009

En Garde! Corps-a-corps TMS Style

Our Forum presenter for Saturday, November 14, was TMS alum Tim Guarente, who gave students a tutorial on the history and practice of fencing. Students enjoyed not only sparring with one another, but also learning more about the history of fencing and what participants used to wear (Tim showed up wearing a doublet and plans to participate in the next Brattleboro Renaissance Fair). Students had the opportunity to try using a foil and practice their footwork. Students really enjoying learning about the evolution of swords, their history, as well as how to move with a foil and how it affects one's body.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Student Reflections: Embracing the Not-So-Ordinary

This posting comes from a new TMS student, Andrew, who is a junior this year.

"When I started searching for prospective schools for my junior year, I wanted one that would incorporate my interests. So when I came across The Meeting School, I was really intrigued by the sustainable agriculture program and the experiential aspects of the school. I got drawn in when I read about Intersession and I immediately started thinking about possible ideas: working with a gay rights organization in India; living on an intentional community; or working with an independent news source. During my interview process, it seemed like these were viable opportunities. Even if I didn’t get in, I had a clearer idea of what I want to do with my life, at that moment. I say at that moment of my life because I believe that interests are fluid and forever changing. It’s interesting to look at how my ideas for Intersession have changed only in the three or so months since I have applied.

"What is even more interesting is to see how I have changed in the month and some odd days that I have been here, at TMS. For example, when I first came to Junior writing class, it was extremely difficult for me to get out a paragraph. I was on the edge of my seat and was literally tugging at my hair. My writing process was tainted by thoughts like: “this is not good enough” or “Why should I even bother, this is gonna be crap,” and “I am so inarticulate.” I knew that the best thing to do was to just write and not look back and judge. This was extremely hard for me to get over but I was in such a nurturing environment and the other kids were really great. Everyone was there to support me. I still struggle a lot but nowhere near the amount when I first entered my teacher Frederick’s study.

"I love animals and I love the connection I can have with them. During the first couple days of school David, who oversees the farm, was looking for two volunteers for farm chores. I thought this was a good idea for me to just jump right in. I have learned a lot about how to treat animals and also what they eat. I think the best learning experiences so far have been the out of the ordinary ones…like when LL Cool Cow busted through the wiring in order to return to her calves. This was a time where we had to be very sensitive to her needs. Or the other day, when I was milking Bruschetta. I really got to connect one on one with her. I let her know I was there and she really took to me. On some level, it felt like there was a spiritual connection or at least a physical understanding between us. Learning how to connect with a living being on this different level, I believe, is very important for our souls. The joy I got from the experience was great and I can’t wait ‘til next week when I get more practice and eventually, when I get my own milking shift."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Peace Abbey

Last week the Peace Studies and Health & Sexuality classes had the opportunity to visit the Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts. Teacher Richard Kleinschmidt reflected on the trip: "Our students approached the experience with an open reverence and it was an incredibly uplifting and educational experience."

Liz, one of the students on the trip, remarked on how peaceful the physical place felt.

One of the most interesting memorial statues (see photo) was in honor of Emily the cow, who managed to single hoofedly escape a local slaughter house and then came to live at the Peace Abbey for several years until her death. Her story is told as a tribute to nonviolent resistance and vegetarianism. In fact, visitors who bring their lunches are asked to eat no meat on to the grounds.

It's interesting to reflect on Emily the cow in the context of The Meeting School's working farm and our close relationship with our farm animals. In addition to our extensive vegetable gardens and fruit trees, all of the meat and a good portion of the dairy consumed by our community is raised right on campus. As part of their chores, students are responsible for feeding and caring for the animals - and giving them an occasional scratch behind the ear or a pat on the back. Our animals are treated humanely and with respect and care.

Which raises some questions about the farm to plate connection: What is the relationship between peace, what we eat, and other living animals?