Ward Mailliard Program Leader
On Saturday April 16th at 6:30am, a plane will lift off from San Francisco International Airport carrying fifteen students from Mount Madonna School (MMS). The students will be on their way to meet a connecting flight in Chicago to take them half way around the world to New Delhi, India.
This departure will mark the beginning a journey of a lifetime. For each student it will be a significant outer journey to another culture, where they will experience a civilization that is far older and significantly different in almost every way from what they know: different in language, history, values, food, religion and social customs. At the same time, it will be a unique inner journey for each student to discover something about themselves as they engage in the many unique experiences of the journey.
The trip, known as the Vidya Dharma (Path of Knowledge) Project, is part of the School’s two-year “Values in World Thought” program, an innovative high school social studies curriculum developed by faculty member and trip leader Ward Mailliard. In Delhi, the students will be meeting with U.S. Ambassador to India, Timothy Roemer, and a member of the Lok Sabha (Upper House of Parliament). Later they will be meeting with the students of the Heritage School in Gurgaon.
Next, the Mount Madonna students will board a train for the city of Haridwar and spend several days meeting and learning with the children at the Sri Ram Orphanage and school. Their itinerary also includes a train ride to Amritsar to visit the famed Golden Temple, and the infamous site of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre during the British Raj. From there they will make the climb by jeep to Dharamsala in the Himalayan foothills, home to the Tibetan community in exile. The students will visit the Tibetan Children’s Village School and speak with His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama.
It is impossible to predict what each student will learn on this journey, but it is a surety that they will learn more about themselves and about another culture in the two weeks of this trip than they ever could from years in the classroom. This journey is part of a continuing experiment in what can happen when we create open context for learning, in which the student simply learns what they are ready to learn.
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