Through study, reflection,
dialogue and action,
we seek to develop our
capacities as responsible
and compassionate
world citizens.

The Return

Ward Mailliard

Ward Mailliard

Today is the “Return Assembly” at Mount Madonna School for the Washington, D.C. experience. Here, our students will talk about what they learned on this recent journey. The “Return” is an essential part of each transformational journey. My dear friend, Sobonfu Somé, author and indigenous wisdom carrier once told me that it is the job of the village to welcome you back from an initiatory experience. This means that to truly complete the journey, we each need to be seen and heard in our new awareness, and we need to bring the gifts of what we have learned in that experience back to our community to be shared. She admonishes that not being seen at this stage creates isolation, even depression, and these important gifts can be lost if not acknowledged.

The “Call,” the “Journey” and the “Return” are the stages of the classical hero’s journey. The “Call” stage, is when we are invited to adventure. It is generally the point when the hero says “no” at least three times. Our “no” has a lot of information in it if we take the time to reflect. When I ask the students about the refusing the “Call” they understand it right away. They say, “It might not be worth it”, “I might fail”, “I might not be good enough”, “I am comfortable where I am”, “it is too much work”, and my favorite, “If I succeed then it will be expected of me in future.” The “Call” stage also contains the work of preparation, which can be demanding. Where do we find the energy to make an effort when we are unsure of the benefits?


PlexusCalls Interview

Ward Mailliard

Ward Mailliard

This is an interview of Ward Mailliard with Lisa Kimbal, President of the Plexus Institute- How Our Schools Can Inspire Emergence of Community Builders.

PlexusCalls are designed to let you listen in to unrehearsed, spontaneous conversations among leading complexity scholars and practitioners from the comfort of your home or workplace.

Click here to listen to the interview.

The Learning Journey “Return”

Often the most challenging parts of our Learning Journey takes place after we have returned home to our loved ones. This is especially true after a trip like the one we just took to India. The span of the journey was just two short weeks but in that time so many new experiences cascaded around us and touched us sometimes in unexpected ways.

Interview with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

Interview with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

Our journey was one of extreme contrasts that often followed one right after another: In one moment we were navigating the crowded markets of Chandi Chowk in Old Delhi where humanity presses up against you in a chaotic dance of life. In the next we stood in the spacious grand elegance of the American Embassy compound near the wide grassy boulevards of Shati Path. Touching the outstretched hand of an impoverish child reaching for coins gave way in just minutes to dignified Member of Parliament with palms pressed together in front of his heart in a traditional Indian greeting. We traveled crowded two lane highways where head-on confrontations with mammoth trucks and busses were common.

Read the rest of this article | View the entire blog on the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Tales of Urban Living

Interview in Dharamsala by Tim Shields

“You don’t teach curiosity, but you create the context in which it’s important to show up. Because staying curious is the best way to learn, it’s the best way for self-development, and curiosity is connected with compassion. When you judge people there’s no compassion in it, but when you’re curious about people there’s a possibility of understanding who they are.”

 – Ward Malliard

A few days ago I was privileged enough to tag along with Malliard and his senior high school class from Mount Madonna School in Santa Cruz, California, a class of just 15 students. Over the course of his career in teaching, Malliard’s students have interviewed leading global thinkers and world leaders across several continents, and during this trip alone, his class has interviewed Timothy Roemer, U.S. Ambassador to India, Mani Shankar Aiyar, a member of the upper house of parliament, Samdong Rinpoche, the Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government in Exile, Rinchen Kandho, head of the Tibetan Nuns Project, and His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama. His students were poised, intelligent, and mature, while at the same time they managed to retain the youth and innocence of adolescence.

As the son of United States Congressman, he “went over the wall,” as he says, but never strayed too far from his upbringing. He is driven by political awareness and social service, yet at the root of it all is his desire to do good in the world and “to be on a journey that I don’t know how it’s going to turn out.”

Click here for the rest of the article.

The Path of Knowledge: Journey to India

Ward Mailliard Program Leader

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.

Click here to follow the live blog at the Santa Cruz Sentinel.


Africa's Gift to the Modern World

The word "Ubuntu" is an ethic or African humanist philosophy that focuses on people's allegiances and relations with one another. With its origins in the Bantu languages of Southern Africa, this traditional African concept is defined in its simplest form as the "art of being human". The word "Ubuntu" itself is Zulu and inspires us to embrace and learn from other people, even as we learn from ourselves. Ubuntu is the humanistic experience of treating all people, irrespective of who they are, or where they come from, as human beings living together in one lager community of beings. Ubuntu is an African view of life and world view.