By mid-week my blog topic usually surfaces. I was pretty certain it would be the book fair this week, with all its festivities, including visits from Clifford the Big Red Dog, the extraordinary collection of beautiful books, the over-the-top decorations by students and teachers, and the excitement of the Thursday night event. I planned to photograph the larger-than-life periodic table created by the 3rd/4th graders and the unique robots made from cardboard boxes and foil by the after school kids. Additionally, I thought I’d mention the impressive organization by book fair team. I was all set to take my writing in this direction. Then I heard about the Seed’s visitors from Egypt.
Through ASU one of our Seed families arranged a visit by two delightful guests from Egypt to talk with the K-1 class. Part of a semester-long program of professional development and cultural exchange, they arrived at the Seed to share their stories. I was invited to come listen and meet our guests. A busy afternoon only allowed me about twenty minutes with our visitors, but it was enough to shift my blog focus. One of the women donned her traditional Egyptian clothing as she spoke with students. It was evident that she’s a teacher by the way that she interacted with the children. Her friendly enthusiasm was contagious as she introduced new content (e.g. which seas surround Egypt). She talked about the pharaohs and why they built the Great Pyramids. There was lively discussion about the Sphinx and the decision to create a monument that combined a human head with a lion’s body. The qualities of bravery, ferociousness and fearlessness were among the reasons for choosing a lion. The discussion continued with topics such as the pharaoh’s gold in their pyramids and the robbers who have been interested in stealing it historically.
Soon after the robber discussion, I was called away to tend to other matters. Still, it was enough to make me appreciate the impact of this exceptional visit. I thought of the almost daily news I hear on the radio of conflicts in the Middle East. It reminded me of the Arab Spring two years ago and how changes in Egypt at that time influenced the rest of the world. I thought of all the conflicts, the violence and non-violence, the bravery, and the creativity of many involved. It brought me back to the Seed’s mission statement:
Throughout history, people from all walks of life have shared a vision of an age in which all beings will live together in peace. Those who hold this vision are committed to working for the benefit of all others until each one has attained an awareness of the unity of life. Awakening Seed is a part of this worldwide vision of peace and was founded on these basic principles:
• All life forms are interconnected. When we damage one portion of the web of life, we damage the entire system. Helping even the smallest creature contributes to the harmony of the whole planet.
• Life can be viewed as a series of cycles or patterns. By studying smaller cycles such as the breath in the human body or life cycles of insects and spiders, the universals of life are more easily understood.
• Each person is more than a physical being. Our intellect and spiritual nature need cultivation as well, in order to become a balanced person.
• We all need love and support in our efforts to learn and grow.
• Suffering can be eliminated through loving kindness and compassion. This attitude is cultivated most effectively at an early age.
• World peace is possible.
The last item, the possibility of world peace, stood out. I realized it’s through visits like the one with our new Egyptian friends, that we form bonds with real people from cultures different from our own. Bonds that help world peace eventually become a reality. Our students are fortunate to have these opportunities that will stay with them into their adulthood. For more information about our visitors, check out this link: http://education.asu.edu/about/partnerships-projects/ilep