In October two of our lecturers in the General Education Department held speaking engagements in Ohio. At Westlake High School, Ajarn Nadhapach Jane Lynch presented a vast range of art and architecture from Southeast Asia and Nathan Lynch explained the ancient and enduring philosophical structure underlying the art. These American high school students (brought up in a Christian context) were amazed to learn that in Theravada Buddhism the goal of enlightenment is achieved by very few of the people who dedicate their lives to find it. They asked engaging questions throughout the presentation, and (thanks to Ajarn Jane’s collection of images) came away able to recognize the god to whom a Hindu temple is dedicated based on which animal symbols are present. Ajarn Jane was also able to spend an hour with a Thai international student at Westlake High discussing various aspects of culture shock and appreciating the intangible benefits of getting an education outside of one’s comfort zone.
At the University of Cincinnati’s Arlitt Center for Education, Research, and Sustainability our lecturers delivered a cross-cultural treatment of trends, values, and teaching praxis in Thailand and the West to a diverse group of teachers. Participants were very active during the discussion section, pursuing further understanding of individual vs collective emphasis and the expression of gender and sexuality in Thai society. By the end, the discussion had covered a full spectrum of developmental coaching from young children’s language formation, the social conventions of adolescence and adulthood as well as practices surrounding the end of life. The talk shifted seamlessly between the individual, family, institutional, and societal levels of organization, where the group was able to identify many of the unifying principles that make us all human. Arlitt educators were inspired by the workshop and our teachers have gained more practice in the delicate art of building long bridges.