Christmas Letter 2018

 
 


Dear friends,
This year has marked an important step in the history of Alice Project. In April in fact we started the 25th scholastic year, which will end in March 2019.
A year particularly intense, full of important events, as you will see from this Christmas Letter in which ample space is given to students.
In December Valentino, who was in France, came back to India after having known that Alice Project had been chosen by HH Dalai Lama to organize an important event about Education.
Mr Tsewang Tenzin, our president, immediately started to work for the success of the event together with a group of volunteers from Bihar

Before the event, HH Dalai Lama’s sister paid a visit to our school in Bodhgaya. She Jetsun Pema La, and she is called The Mother of Tibet, because of her tireless work in favor of Tibetan children, for which she received an award from UNESCO in 1999. Her husband and some representatives of the Tibetan Parliament were with her.
After visiting the school and having a talk with Valentino, she realized the validity of the method, given the results obtained so far, and expressed appreciation to Alice Project.

In the same period of time, famous American actor Richard Gere came and visited the school at Bodhgaya, while talking to Valentino, he made him realize that also America would need Alice Project.
“On January 24th we students of Sarnath School from the class 5th to the senior high school, together with our teachers and the school principal, travelled to Bodhgaya by coach, to take part in the meeting with HH Dalai Lamai on the next day.
At the meeting there were also students from Bodhgaya School and some from Arunachal Pradesh, accompanied by Suchandra, fifteen children and teenagers who then went to reside in Sarnath after that.

About 12.000 students, coming from different schools of Bihar, took part and were present at the meeting.
Valentino presented Alice Project, its history, the path and methodology, and then offered HH Dalai Lama the first copy of his new book “Universal Ethics”.
And HH Dalai Lama told him these words: “You are doing in the field of Education what we wish.”
All of us were so happy to hear these words of appreciation spoken by such an important person as HH Dalai Lama. Then, addressing to us students, He told us how precious time is and how to use it in a positive way.
He said that the future of India is in our hands; therefore we should be aware of our individual responsibility.
Whether the situation of the Country improves or gets worse depends on us.
He also remarked how important the ancient Indian wisdom is, as well as the understanding of the concept of interdependence and projections. Unfortunately, in these years the Western culture and the schools do not favour the education to understand our self to achieve inner peace.
Finally HH Dalai Lama replied to our questions. For us and our teachers it was an unforgettable experience.
Then, in the afternoon, we visited the ancient temples of Bodhgaya.
The next day, we went to the village of Dandawa to visit the other Alice Project School. Here, for the first time, we celebrated the “Republic Day” together with the students of that School and then they showed us their school around: a great opportunity for everybody.”

-In February all students in the X and XII classes had their final exams and the results were very satisfactory: 100% passed the X class exam and 96% the XII, while the national average was 72%.
-In March, Boom (A former student at A.P. who now lives at the school) went to Arunachal Pradesh with Ilaria. “It was an important opportunity to visit this “windy land”, a green and clean land where people live in bamboo piles, farm their land and can drink the water of the river.

With Suchandra, the responsible of the school, we visited some families living in the nearby villages. They welcomed us very warmly into their houses and offered us their traditional Chakma dishes as well as very special biscuits.
The parents of the students living at Sarnath School told us how difficult it is to survive in those forests, especially at the beginning when there were elephants, tigers and other wild animals. Year after year they went on farming the land, working very hard even if it often happens that the monsoons and land slides destroy the houses and floods damage their crops and harvests. Life is very difficult there.
Of course we stopped at the school to meet the teachers and the students studying there. I was impressed by their uniforms: clean and tidy, and by their smiles expressing great joy. And I thought: -how lucky these children are! They are receiving a special education which will guide them in their future life.
We also visited a small temple dedicated to Shiva. It’s situated on top of a hill, a place particularly sacred, full of a powerful energy, where every year groups of people of different religions make a pilgrimage specially on the day of Shivaratri.

And there was also a meeting with the parents of the students studying in that school, together with the teachers and Mr .Monto Moni Chakma, the Mukhiya (village chief) of Bodhisatta, responsible of the administration of the school.

The parents expressed their appreciation of A.P. and so the Mukiya planned to involve more the families in the Project in order to better support the expenses of the school.”

-In March, the French psychoanalyst Madame Samia came again to our school to complete the training that she started last year. Unfortunately she had to go back to France after only a few days for family reasons. Let’s hope she will be able to come again.

-A good and important piece of news: after working hard and waiting so long, Sarnath school was officially recognized up to the XII class!

In April, Swami Varishtanand, psychologist and pediatrician, came again to Sarnath School. He lives and works at Rama Krishna Mission in Varanasi, where every year I am invited to hold seminars about A. P., which are always followed with great interest by a large group of educators.
Swami spoke to the students about our true identity and said how important it is to discover it, under the guidance of a master. Then he told a very significant story.
Then, addressing to the teachers, he explained how an integrated education with spirituality can improve the students and remarked the responsibility upon them.
– “On 21st June , like every year, we celebrated the International Yoga Day, and on this occasion, we organized a meeting, open to everybody, in order to better understand the philosophy and the benefits deriving from practicing this ancient discipline”.

-On 24th June, a group of 70 students accompanied by the principal and ten teachers, travelling by train went to Dharamsala in the North of India, where, after 2 days, they received a private audience of HH The Dalai Lama.
Valentino, Ilaria and Mr Tsewang Tenzin went there a few days before to organize this event with HH and their stay in Dharamsala.

“It was a quite long trip ( 32 hours by train and 4 by bus ) but interesting at the same time , because we crossed so many different regions of India and for many of us it was the first experience on a train.

HH The Dalai Lama received us in his residence in McLeod Ganj, at Dharamsala.
He told us that our life, without a good education, culture or respect of traditions is not complete.
If we young students do not recall the Ancient Indian Wisdom, our culture and traditions, as well as yoga, meditation…, we will be destined to suffer a lot and we will give importance only to material things. It is not sufficient to study the different scholastic subjects, if we do not integrate this knowledge with the knowledge of the inner world and of our mind, according to our ancient traditions.
At the end of the meeting , after singing all together a song dedicated to HH the Dalai Lama, Valentino offered him the second part of his latest book “Universal Ethics.

The next day we met the C.T.A. President Dr. Lobsang Sangay. We were impressed by his story. He was born in a poor family and was always engaged in studies and work with seriousness and determination, until he obtained the important assignment that he has at present..
After that we visited two schools: the TCV school and the Tong Len school. For us it was interesting to interact with the students of the two schools and share our experiences.
We then went to see a Temple near a waterfall and finally the Himanchal Pradesh Cricket Stadium near a park.
This trip was an unforgettable experience for all of us, which will certainly leave an indelible mark inside each of us.”

– After the summer holidays, in July, the school started again. In Sarnath School 200 new student were enrolled, from kindergarten to higher classes.
– In August, some students from the higher classes could follow the second International Training course for teachers mainly, held by Valentino and was organized at Sarnath School. There were 24 teachers from the three A.P. schools and some other teachers coming from abroad.
The course lasted 3 weeks, it was an intensive work and the participants followed the philosophy the path and methodology of Alice Project with great interest.

At the end of the course, the participants thanked Valentino because, through his teachings, they realized that it is possible to see the life with “different eyes”. They also thanked everyone in the school and the cook Mohammed from Bodhgaya who, through his dishes, contributed to the success of the training course.
– “At the end of August, The Sanskrit University of Varanasi, the ” Sampuranand Sankrit Vishwavidyalaya of Benares” conferred an award to Valentino, for the third time, for his work done over the years in the field of Education.
These are the words of Prof.Rajaram Shukla , Vice Chancellor of the Universiy: ” Alice Project is an integrated education model, based on Universal values and a non dualistic vision of reality”.
Alice pedagogy not only recognizes the ancient wisdom of Indian philosophy but it is following the modern findings of Transpersonal Psychology, confirmed by the recent researches in the field of neuroscience and quantum physics”.

After thanking, Valentino offered the University V.C. his latest book. A group of high school students with some teachers and the principal attended the award ceremony.

– In September, at Bodhgaya School, there was a Graphology course held by Prof Mr Rajesh Jauhari. Ten teachers and some Chakma students followed the course. Through a serious and accurate handwriting analysis, a teacher can not only better understand him/herself but also his/her students.

– In September, after several days of illness, Lama Monlam, who lived in Nepal, passed away. He was a great Lama, the spiritual responsible of A.P from many years, beloved and respected by students and teachers.
Every year he used to spend a few days at Sarnath School. We will all miss his precious presence who has always supported and guided A.P. through his advices and prayers.
We will always remember him with affection and gratitude. Gratitude expressed by the numerous Mantra recited by our students, when he was ill and after he passed away.

– In September, around our Bodhgaya School, in 4 different temples, the people of the nearby villages completed the recitation of 100.000 Mantras together with our students in order to keep alive the spiritual part inside each of us. So that there is more peace among the inhabitants of the villages. As a conclusion there was a Fire Puja with the Pandit who teaches in the school.

– At about the end of the month, Mr. Monto Moni Chakma, the legal representative of the school in Arunachal Pradesh, came to Sarnath and met Valentino, Mr Tswang Tenzin, the principal of the school Mr Awanis Mishra, some teachers and some representatives of the administration.
After talking about Bodhisatta School and possible improvements of it, the Mukhiya promised to offer the school a piece of land for its new projects.
– “In October, Dr. Paola Salvadori and Maria Tolu came to visit our school. They stayed with us for a few days in order to better understand Alice Project and its methodology and they interacted with the teachers and us students, following and participating in some different lessons in different classes.
Dr. P. Salvadori, Headmaster of the school Don Milan at Tavernelle Val di Pesa (Fi ), where Valentino gave a training course, thanked him for the opportunity to stay with students and teachers.

She would like to put in practice in the school where she is the responsible, the path that we are following. She said the students could have more self confidence, to improve their concentration, they become more aware and have more peace inside them. And so the world could be better.
Dr. M. Tolu, pediatrician, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity given to take part in so many activities and moments of meditation. The meditation can improve our health and this is confirmed by the latest scientific researches.”

– At the beginning of October, Boom and Kapin (former students of A.P. living at Sarnath school ), at the request of Valentino, went back to Arunachal Pradesh to meet a little Shaman Chakma called “Boddo”.
“We left from Bodisatta School and, after 4-5 hours on the motorbike, we arrived at the village where this special child lives with his family. We could see him while he was helping his elder brother to sell incense and candles.
Then he sat apart and started to receive people asking to be healed.
This little shaman offers them leaves, flowers or herbs which, after he touches them with his hands, can heal diseases afflicting them. In return people offer him small presents.
In the past also Boddo’s grandfather, now ninety, had the same healing power and before him, his grandfather who lived in Bangladesh, where once the Chakma lived. They had to leave their lands which were flooded after the construction of some dams and also for religious reasons (Buddhist minority in a Muslim context. Indian Government then allowed them to live in the forests of Arunachal Pradesh where they still live)
When the healing power of little Boddo was found, thousands of people came to see him every day asking to be healed. Now he receives only about 100 people twice a week.
We couldn’t film him because they say he could lose his power and his incredible energy by which he can cure so many people.
But we could interview Boddo’s grandfather, some people in the village and someone who has been cured.
Maybe, in the future, we can have the opportunity to go to the village again and have a direct contact with this special child.

Back to the village of Bodisatta, we wanted to meet the guardian of the Temple dedicated to Shiva, on a hill. It was good for us to stay for some time in that place where the atmosphere is quiet and peaceful.”

Also this year, many friends have come and visited our school. Some have offered their help and we wish to thank them all.
A special thank is for Ass. Shining Hope, which, with its generous annual contribution, ensures stability to our three schools; and we also thank our friends from Taiwan who have been supporting Alice Project for more than 20 years.
Our Project is becoming more and more autonomous also thanks to the increasing involvement of the teachers, the principal’s work, the staff and Ilaria who is continuing to coordinate all the activities and manage the administrative part of the three schools.
We would also like to thank the president, Mr Tsewang Tenzin for his involvement in organizing the big events in Bodhgaya first and then at Dharamsala.

In Italy.
Ilaria, who accompanied Valentino during his training courses in Italy, describes the different experiences in this way:

“Also this year Valentino came back to Italy for a training courses, to experiment the proposal of Alice Project in new contexts and to start a path structured in Public Italian Schools. In July he went, for the second time, to the “Cascina dei Ricostruttori” in Val di Vara, where he gave a 6 day training course attended by more than 40 people, mainly families with a big number of children.

Collaboration between the two realities has grown positively, together with the strengthening of the common purpose of educational proposals and a renewed interest in strengthening cooperation and exchange.
And immediately after this week, there was a meeting for the young people who already participate in the activities of the Community, to help them to move closer to a path of inner knowledge, following the Alice Project model. On 1st and 2nd November a group of about 10 young people met Valentino and started to reflect about themes which are the basis of Alice Project vision.

In July, in a company in the province of Treviso, one of the business owner, Flavio Bevilacqua, who has been caring for his employees’ welfare for years, organized a course and, for the first time, Valentino did training in a company. The results were very encouraging. Their interest and enthusiasm were so strong to request a second course next year. The context was particularly interesting to study Alice’s issues and see how the simplicity of the path and exercises can have a positive impact not only at the school level but at individual level at any age.

Certainly the most significant experience in Italy was the one at Istituto Comprensivo Don Milani at Tavernelle.

Thanks to a group of very sensitive parents, the coordination of Gloria Germani and the tenacious will of the Principal Dr. Paola Salvadori it can be possible to start to officially bring Alice Project into Italian schools. At the beginning of July more than 50 teachers could follow a course, the first one recognized by Miur, just at Tavernelle. The course, very practical with activities directly done with some children, wanted to introduce the vision, the techniques and teaching methodology of A.P. and give the instruments to start to work in the classes with the students.
At the end of the course most of the teachers (teaching in all the 5 kinds of schools: kindergarten, secondary and 3 primary) joined the Project and in September started to introduce techniques like the morning assembly, the small balls for emotions, short exercises of concentration on the breath and candle, visualization in their classes.

This is not the only Institute to start the Project officially. In fact a group of teachers of a school in the province of Bergamo, after training for about 2 years with Mrs. Maria Luisa Dagna and experimenting in their classes, could make officially approve Alice Project in their school. Their contribution and testimony during the course at Tavernelle was really precious. They shared their experience and showed that A.P. can easily adapt to methodology and content of Italian school.

In November Valentino went back to Tuscany, this time to work directly in the different classes of the Institute “Don Milani”. This time he focused his work on integrated teaching, particularly on the use of the material he designed for Mathematics and English, in order to make learning easier and develop memorization, concentration, attention and visualization.

Finally, many other schools have already requested to start Alice Project and especially Tuscany is about to develop a network. In this context there has been a training course at Massa and at Cozzile. Organized and tenaciously wanted also by Ms Silvia Diolaiuti, the psychologist who followed the testing of integrated mathematical model of A.P., and sponsored by the City and the city school.”

As always, also this year I have received many proposals and requests for training courses in different places, not only for teachers but also for educators, parents, and people interested in beginning or to go deeply in their inner path. I have also been invited in many public schools, primary and secondary , where now the teachers interested in A.P. are proposing it with different modes and at different levels.
Donations coming from these courses, the yoga days, bake sales and small markets, the lottery, donations of some students of some schools contribute to cover a small part of the school expenses of the three schools in India.
As you can see in the box below, the new bank codes are marked (Banca Etica)
In a few months the previous codes will no longer be valid.
It’s always difficult to recall all the friends, old and new, who help us and allow us, through their support, to continue this educational experience we started 25 years ago.
Thank you from the bottom of the heart and…….Happy Christmas to all of you and your families.

Luigina
Sarnath 21st November 2018

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