English for Engaged Social Service 2018

English for Engaged Social Service 2018

The INEB Institute is welcoming applicants to our 3rd English for Engaged Social Service course, which will be held at Wongsanit Ashram (Thailand) from January 7 to April 5, 2018.

IMPORTANT NEWS! We are offering one full scholarship for the 2018 course, worth $5,800. The selection will be based on applicants’ past record of contribution to engaged social service, potential to contribute to the learning community, and potential to apply lessons learned in a significant way following the course.


More details about the course: http://inebinstitute.org/eng

Go to APPLY page for full application instruction and application forms.

Download this brochure in PDF format here.

Report on the English for Engaged Social Service Program for 2017

Report on the English for Engaged Social Service Program for 2017

The Institute for Transformative Learning of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (the INEB Institute), completed its second full three-month program, English for Engaged Social Service, in April 2017. This article reflects on the highlights of this program, where we think we need to go from here, and what you could do to help or participate in this project.

Key Features of the Program

The INEB Institute’s three-month English course aims to develop the qualities necessary for compassionate leadership at a time of growing crisis and uncertainty. For leadership to be compassionate and clear-minded, we believe it must be grounded in a strong sense of connection with oneself, with the earth, with immediate others, and with local, regional, and international communities. The ability to think freely and develop confidence in one’s views and capacities are also essential. These qualities can be developed through training and the adoption of carefully selected personal disciplines and practices. The kind of student we ideally seek to reach is a young adult from Asia who has already shown some commitment to work for the common good through practices of personal and social transformation. Such commitments and practices have been at the core of INEB’s identity as an international network since its inception.

Working with a small group, we aim for depth of learning and experience in a number of areas. The most significant of these are:

  • Self-awareness, self-confidence, and full access to one’s own learning potential.
  • Awareness and sensitivity to others, and the skills and motivations needed for mutual support and cooperation.
  • Skills of understanding, speaking, reading, and writing English.
  • Self-directed, freely chosen, and mindful leadership.
  • Interpretive, critical thinking, and social analytical skills.
  • Awareness of global crises—climate change, social inequality, violence, and lack of voice—and their local manifestations, as well as the many signs of hope that are now emerging around the world.
  • Awareness of the personal dimensions of efforts towards social change.

These areas are overlapping, and each has a subset of further skills or capacities that enable them. For example, the skills of awareness and sensitivity to others, mutual support, and cooperation, require a subset of skills that includes the ability to verbally appreciate others, the ability to listen with attention and respect as well as to keep confidentiality, the willingness to inquire into and accept cultural, ideological, and personal differences in an atmosphere of respect, and the willingness to trust and to share one’s personal thoughts and feelings in appropriate settings.

To accomplish these goals, the program uses a complex orchestration of:

  • Regular and sequentially organized classroom work in English and other areas.
  • Workshops by national and international level trainers in a number of areas (e.g. Power Analysis, Non-Violent Communication, Peer Counseling, and so on).
  • Field trips to observe and interact with intellectuals and community leaders in Thailand as examples of leadership, creativity, and social service.
  • Personal and small group tutoring.
  • Time for reading, writing, and communal watching of films.
  • Collective work to maintain the classroom and other areas.
  • Sufficient rest.

Highlights of the Program

Our English program for 2017 ran from January 8th to April 4th. We had a total of ten students, two of whom had to leave unexpectedly at the half-way point. Of the ten students, seven were women—one of them a female monk (bhikkhuni)—and three were men. Their ages ranged from 19 to 40, and they came from Thailand, Myanmar, India, Laos, and China. Many of them were already involved as leaders at some level of social service work, and a few were teachers or workshop trainers. Their incoming English level ranged from Beginner to High Advanced, with most in the Intermediate range.

Highlight 1 – All students’ use of English developed significantly, in some cases dramatically. Upon entering the program, one young man from South Asia spoke so fast that hardly anyone could understand him. By the end of the program his speech was well modulated and understandable. We gave four practice TOEIC tests (a standard English proficiency test that measures listening and reading comprehension) throughout the course, and this individual’s scores showed a development from very low Beginner to Intermediate Level over the 12 weeks. One of the women who had to leave after six weeks raised her TOEIC score 270 points in that short space of time, even though we did not teach TOEIC vocabulary and testing strategies directly. Students’ growth in English took many forms, including greater confidence in expressing ideas, much faster comprehension, significantly wider vocabulary, and so on. The diversity of the group was a key component in motivating students to communicate and make connections through English.

Highlight 2 – As a graduation project, we asked all students to prepare a statement of goals they would like to take on in their own lives, as well as practical steps they could take to achieve those goals. We asked that the goals challenge and expand their habitual sense of what they can do, include some longer-term goals, and include goals the students have for others, whether they be family, community, ethnic group, or all of humanity. For us and for many of those who attended the graduation, the students’ statements were inspiring and articulate. They reflected the creativity and courage of students as they applied course skills and knowledge to their own life and home situations.

Highlight 3 – It is our assessment that this group developed a very strong sense of cohesion, mutual support, and safety. One small indication was when one student fell ill with a fever, some four or five other students stayed up late attending to him, caring for his needs, and keeping him company. But this support was also palpable in the classroom and elsewhere. We think that the foundation for this was likely the very extensive practice the students received in forming various kinds of listening partnerships. Ouyporn Khuankaew taught her own (feminist and power-sensitive) version of the deep listening developed by Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh in her three-day workshop, and I (Ted) regularly taught a form of peer counseling based on the principles of a practice known informally as “co-counseling.” Furthermore, a high-level international leader of the co-counseling communities, Francie Chew, was able to lead a two-day workshop to deepen the students’ skills. Virtually all workshop leaders included some time for mutual listening in pairs.

As the director and lead teacher, I see such practices as essential to learning. They offer a chance for students to integrate what they have been learning by daring to say what is on their minds in the safe context of another person’s respectful attention. They thus increase students’ trust in their own thinking, and in the ability of others to offer kindness and support. In so doing they also offer a chance to overcome emotional blocks to appreciating life, enjoying closeness with others, and thinking clearly.

Highlight 4 – While we addressed many themes and dimensions of learning in this course, we feel that our section this year on climate change was particularly clear and powerful. Many students expressed both a sense of having been changed by this information, and a strong desire to work to combat the effects of climate change and work for sustainability. For his required public presentation, one student did extensive research on the effects of climate change in his home region of China, and even made contacts with a scholar who had expertise in this area. Success in this part of the course has increased our confidence that we can attain similar clarity in each of the major course areas, even in a course of only three months.

Highlight 5 – This course was the second time that Nila Premaratna and I worked together as the core teaching team. For the first time, we also had a full-time coordinator, Topsi Rongrongmuang. Her skilled coordination in turn enabled Nila and me to participate more fully in each other’s classes and to develop our curriculum to a much higher level of coherence, integrity, and effectiveness. We also understood better this time how to balance work requirements, rest, classroom teaching, field trips, and workshops, even though the workshops had to be clustered together more than we would have liked. We were also grateful to work once again with so many of the skilled and generous workshop leaders with whom we worked last year, and we learned how to better integrate their contributions into the course.

Highlight 6 – Through class sessions, workshops, and field trips, students had the chance to meet, study with, and learn about extraordinary leaders, thinkers, and activists. These included Phra Paisal Visalo, Ven. Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, Sulak Sivaraksa, Jeyanthy Siva, Ouyporn Khuankaew, Ginger Norwood, Jon Watts, Francie Chew, Pracha Hutanuwatr, Les and Poranee Sponsel, Krarok Wataksorn, Samana Chatwaro, and Khun Baiphut. We wish to express our thanks to all these leaders for generously sharing their time with our group.

Where Do We Go from Here?

We have seen the far-reaching impacts of this course on the growth of our students in many dimensions. Based on this, we envision three directions to our work in the coming period:

  1. We want to continue to offer this course on a regular basis as a way to support the emergence of thoughtful and capable leadership among Asian young adults;
  2. We want to make this course replicable in different cultural and national contexts, which means training others in the skills needed to lead a course such as this; and
  3. We want to find effective ways to follow-up with our student graduates, so that the learning they began with us will continue to take root and bear fruit.

We are now planning a third English for Engaged Social Service course for January of 2018. That course will run from January 7th – April 5th, 2018, at the Wongsanit Ashram near Bangkok. We are also considering offering very short pilot English programs in other countries as a way to begin to explore how we might expand the program into new cultural settings. To meet our goal of training new course leaders, we will need to attract individuals with a serious interest in developing this course for their home communities. Most likely they would receive this training through participating as assistants in one or two of our courses before leading their own. We are now actively looking for such individuals, and we are committed to including them in the 2018 course.

Finally, we are experimenting with different ways of supporting and maintaining contact with our former students. This might take the form of regular or occasional online meetings with them, or even offering local workshops organized by our alumni that could address a number of possible themes.

What You Can Do

  1. If you find this program interesting or promising, we would like to encourage you to contact us and ask about possible permutations of this program that would meet your needs or those of your constituencies. We would be happy to receive your questions and to dialog with you about what components make this program effective, and how it might work for your organization or in your area.
  2. If you are interested in becoming a trainer, or could nominate someone you think would be very capable as a trainer, please get in touch with us. We would take your recommendation seriously and follow up with further contacts.
  3. Offering the English program regularly in different cultural contexts to students with limited resources requires substantial financial support. Our current per student cost is $5,800, not counting airfare from the home country. We would be very grateful if you or your organization could provide an annual or one-time scholarship that would support one or more students to attend this course.

To the groups and individuals who sponsored or contributed to the 2017 program, we want to express our deep gratitude. Without your support, the program could not have been offered. Furthermore, your willingness to put your confidence in us, and in many cases to engage with us on the meaning, impact, and potential areas for improvement of the program, is profoundly encouraging and hopeful to us in challenging times like the present.

To stay up to date on developments for the English for Engaged Social Service and other INEB Institute programs, please visit: www.inebinstitute.org or email us at info@inebinstitute.org. Thank you very much!

Sincerely,

Theodore Mayer
Academic Director, The INEB Institute

The full report can be download in PDF here.

English for Engaged Social Service 2017 – Brief Report and Excerpts from Students’ Final Presentations

English for Engaged Social Service 2017 – Brief Report and Excerpts from Students’ Final Presentations

The INEB Institute’s English for Engaged Social Service 2017 program ended on April 4th of this year. At the graduation ceremony, our eight full-time students spoke about the impact of the course, and about the goals they had set for themselves. We share excerpts from the students’ presentations as a way of offering a brief initial report on this program. We wish to join the students in expressing our deep gratitude to the sponsors and to all who helped make this year’s program one that exceeded our expectations.

 

Wijitra  Tretrakul (Thailand)
Three months ago, I told my mom I was coming here to learn English. But in fact, I got to learn important truths about myself and the world through English. Those truths challenged me to design my life in a new way. I would like to share 5 things I discovered during this program.
1. What do I really want? The teachers gave me this powerful question. After I really thought about it, I found my goal: I want to live a harmless and simple life.
2. The social structure that I’m living in does not allow me to live simply, without harming others, or even myself. Oppression and exploitation occur every day, not only outside but also in my mind as patterns. To stop creating more suffering, I decided to stop blaming others or myself.
3. What I need to solve the problem is “understanding” and “connection”. To connect with myself, I will keep meditating. With my close ones, I will use co-counseling to free our minds from patterns. Through art, I connect with different groups of people in my society. And I want to practice mindful consumption to respect the environment.
4. English is power. With good English I can understand and connect to the world. To access knowledge and resources, be ready for cooperation, and contribute to my friends’ movements around the world, I will keep improving my English with joy.
5. Every time I feel discouraged, I will think of the fifth one that the teachers kept telling us: I’m important. What I do affects the world in some way. I can decide to be happy and begin anew every day.
This is enough for changing my whole life. Thank you, all of you.

Khudoh (Myanmar)
During this three-month course, I learnt many skills and subject areas, including meditation, power analysis, climate change and co-counseling. Co-counseling is a kind of deep listening that we practiced with each other almost every day. In the beginning, I didn’t like co-counseling. But after doing it more often, I realized that if we are honest and share our feelings with others, it is a way of being true to ourselves. And if we do that, we can understand other people more, and it helps us to have a clear mind. If everybody has a clear mind, our societies will be more beautiful and peaceful. From this course, I was able to learn many tools of co-counseling, and it stimulated me to help my people to have a clear mind and a peaceful society. Furthermore, co-counseling is a powerful tool for improving our thinking and understanding of our world.
In our culture, if we have a problem or get depressed, we try to control it by ourselves and keep it contained in our mind. We are embarrassed to show our emotions to other people because if we share our story with them, they usually don’t keep confidentiality. In some cases, it can even lead to suicide, or we may take it out on other people. Often it seems as if we are in pain and feel depressed because of what other people do. Actually, this is not a correct assumption.
Therefore, I have decided to practice co-counseling in my environment because I know myself, and I know I also need a person who’ll listen to me carefully.

Phonesavanh Chindamany (Laos)
Attending this program was one of my goals. I wanted to be an English student abroad and now my dream has come true. I have learnt a lot from this program. For example: my English skills are improving, I can understand more easily when people talk to me, and I speak and read English more clearly. Besides that, I have learnt about social structure, climate change, gender equality, and community actions through field trips and workshops.
During this program my life has become more clear to me and I feel confident about what I want to do next. Here is one of my goals.
Within ten years, I want to open a learning center including English, volunteerism, Lao traditional dance, and social activism. I will open it in my hometown to help the younger generation in my village to have a chance to learn English.

Ven. Dhammavanna (Thailand)
This course let me dare to dream of the high potentials that I could reach and showed me how to start step by step to make my goals come true.
For the next 3 years, my goal is to apply for a scholarship for the study of Buddhism. My first concrete step to attain this goal is to write in English on the Facebook page of my monastery every day to make it bilingual in Thai and in English.
My second step will be to focus on Buddhist teachings by reading several pages from a Dhamma book out loud every morning and recording it to listen to at night before I go to sleep.
For my third step, I will search on YouTube for Dhamma talks from Buddhist monks and nuns who are English speakers from different sects.
The fourth step is that I will take an online TOEIC test every week to check my progress.
Over the next 5 years I will work to receive a scholarship in Buddhist Studies for my PhD. I also plan to give Dhamma talks in English and make them available to all those interested. My goal is to teach Buddhism in a university and to publish my English Dhamma talks online, on YouTube, and on our website.
Within 10 years my goal is to open a Bhikkhuni International University in Thailand to assist the Bhikkhuni sangha not only in Thailand but also around the world. Bhikkhunis’ education and self-improvement requires studying what the Buddha taught and developing the ability to spread the Dhamma so as to heal the suffering of human beings in this world.

Khar Nan (Myanmar)
I learned a lot in this program, not just English. We were provided many workshops related to various social issues. We went on field trips to many places and we met with famous Buddhist monks and leaders. This was a great opportunity for me. From the field trips I got knowledge related to Buddhism and leadership skills. This program was very effective for me because it provided knowledge and experiences that are useful and that I can apply to my humanitarian response work.
Before this program, I had many goals and I wanted to do many things but I didn’t know how to start or how to achieve my goals. Now, from this program, I got ideas about how to start on my personal goals. When I go back home I want to continue my English learning. And then I’m going to share experiences from this program with my colleagues, especially related to power structures, co-counseling, and climate change. I want to start to do counseling for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), because now they face deep suffering and have psychological pain because of the civil war in my area, Kachin State. During these three months, the level of my self- confidence has gone up. My English skills have also improved. So, I can say this program is a part of my life. Thank you very much.

Darwin Ilango (India)
I came here to develop my English skills. But in this course I not only learnt English but also about society, climate change and Buddhist social action. This course inspired me a lot. When I go back to India, first I will share my experience and teach about global warming in my NGO institute.
When I came to this program my thought was that I wanted to earn more money, I wanted to buy a car. I also wanted to help poor people’s education and health. These were my aims. When I came here I learnt about racism, gender inequality, casteism, co-counseling, meditation, Tai Chi, global warming, and other areas.
But global warming made the most impact on me, because the world will soon be in a danger zone. Due to the effects of global temperature change we may face a lot of natural disasters, like cyclones,
floods, and drought. I decided that I have to work to protect the environment by protecting natural resources.
First I want to develop my village by planting trees and raising awareness about solar energy and climate change. Then I plan to form a group of friends to start a campaign about global warming and planting plants along the roadsides. We also need to help protect agriculture and the diversity of livestock for future generations.

Other Students
We have chosen to protect the identity of two of our students, given the sensitive political situations they come from. They both wrote strong statements about their goals. One of these students wants to start a school that will educate the local community both in English and in the traditional language. The other has already begun translating texts in English into the local language and vice versa, creating new avenues for language study. Both see English as a tool of empowerment that facilitates a broader connection with the wider world.
Theodore Mayer (The INEB Institute’s Academic Director)

Scholarship Announcement

Scholarship Announcement

Our English for Engaged Social Service 2017 course begins January 8, 2017. We have a strong group of students but we still have seats available.

The INEB Institute has decided to offer two full scholarships for the 2017 course, worth $5,800 each. The selection will be based on applicants’ past record of contribution to engaged social service, potential to contribute to the learning community, and potential to apply lessons learned in a significant way following the course. Applications and interviews will be the basis for judging.

Applicants must have at least an intermediate level of English (we can help you decide if you do). We will continue to accept applications until these positions are filled. We welcome your application, whether you are Thai or from other countries, and whatever your status, i.e. whether you are a layperson, monastic, student, professional, homemaker, and so on.

Download and fill out the application form at http://inebinstitute.org/apply/
View online brochure at https://issuu.com/ineb/docs/eng_2017_brochure