Alice is now an adult, according to the past parameter of the age of majority. 21 years old! 21 candles to mark a long and sometimes difficult path. From the 75 initial students to the 1100 present one. From the tiny three-classroom school building in Sarnath to the present three-school structure. The schools are located in three different states of India: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Arunachal Pradesh from five teachers at the beginning to fifty-three now. Our concern is still the same: Can we guarantee a good future to such a big structure? Will we be able to offer a good quality education with trained teachers according to Alice’s philosophy and methodology? We will come back later to this question. For the moment, let’s say that the year we are going to leave behind has been full of events, some positive and some traumatic…
Students rummaging in the rubbles looking for… a miracle. On the right: meeting with the Ambassador of Italy in Delhi.
Let’s remember the night of the 8th of December 2014, when a fire destroyed bothLuigina’s and my room and the office too. We suffered serious material and moral damage. Practically 20 years of Alice’s story went up in flames. Fortunately, some months before, we had secured some important documents related to Alice property and research (stories, tales, unpublished books). Miraculously, all the students living in the hostel survived out, thanks to Luigina’s prompt intervention,who woke up at 1 a.m., when the flames were going to reach her room, she managed to raise the alarm. In that tragic situation the students demonstrated excellent courage and ability to coordinate, working together with the fire fighters to contain fire and save the school. After three hours, a gas cylinder exploded, but everyone was already safe. Once the fire was completely extinguished, the students expressed their sympathy to Luigina, with affection and discretion. Also our neighbours were very supportive, first they intervened immediately to help extinguish the fire and then they put up resident children till the next morning. We were very moved by the visit of our Ambassador and his wife. They came to the school to express their sympathy, talking with the children and us. When they went away, they were moved by the sensitivity of the girls and the boys living in the hostel. Many people over the next days supported us with words as well as with endowments. We thank everybody for this wonderful proof of friendship. The reconstruction of the destroyed building has not started yet, however the project is ready and will be carried out as soon as possible, thanks to the generous endowments from “Friends of Humanity”, which should cover all the expenses, including furniture, the repositioning of two septic tanks, the reconstruction of the adjacent resident kitchen damaged by the gas cylinder explosion. Since we are talking about Alice’s diplomatic friends, we would like to thank deeply Mumbai Consul General, Dr.UgoCiarlatani, for his assistance and precious contribution for the issue of Tourist Visa to a group of Tibetan friends, who went to Italy to promote our projects. We thank also Kolkata Consul General, Dr.CesareBellier, to have been a friend of Alice’s for several years. We would like to greet the new ambassador, S.E. Lorenzo Angeloni, with the hope to welcome him heresoon …
From the left: Dr. Ugo Ciarlatani, Dr. Cesare Bellier, S.E. Lorenzo Angeloni
Speaking of projects, an association from Luxemburg, Shining Hope, has proposed to help Alice for three years, financing some urgent works to ensure the security of some crumbling buildings in Bodhgaya and the construction of a modern school for the children of the nearby villages. A school where students can have the facilities that can be normally find in schools for rich people, reducing the gap between privileged and poor people.
Students of the school in Bodhgaya and sponsors from Shining Hope.
The new school will be built in accordance with the rules of the State of Bihar as we did in Sarnath.
Sarnath School has been recognized by the state of Uttar Pradesh, while Bodhgaya school will be recognized in a few months. It is a major step forward for us in Alice. It has been thanks to a huge economic effort and to a great commitment from the supervisors that we have achieved all these results. And for this reason, we want to thank once again all our friends who have supported us up to now. Another important project has been completed in recent months: a solar panel plant in SarnathSchool, financed two third by the province of Trento, through the association Asoka from Molina di Ledro (Trento) and one third by the no profit organization of Treviso.
Asoka no profit organization cooperated with us for some years, through several events to sensitise local people and raise funds. The solar panel plant will enable us to reduce the cost of electricity that affects significantly our budget. We hope we can find a solution for Bodhgaya too. Our sincere thanks to Asoka group. A special thanks also to the friends who are supporting in particular to our Chakma Project. For fifteen years we have hosted Chakma girls and boys from Arunachal Pradesh, that belong to an ethnic group coming from Bangladesh, who live in needy circumstances, because they are not recognized as Indian citizens. There are several students who got their high school diploma in our schools and now are studying at university, or some have already found a job as a teacher, in the army, as an employee in call centres, or as trustworthy people in various companies around India. What are the most important things that they have received the education in our school. Here is what SubhaMangalChakma wrote us in a recent mail: “The most important contribution you have made in me is “critical thinking and creativity” which is fundamentally essential. Which I feel differ from the other Chakma students today.”
From left: Graziella Zanoletti; friends from Taiwan who are crossing bridges between sponsors and the school; Rosario Rizzi.
Five years ago, we set up a primary school in a remote village deep in the mountains in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, thanks to the association “Friends of Humanity”, whose person in charge, the dynamic GraziellaZanoletti, not only ensures the continuity of the school, but is also present when the Alice Project School goes through difficult times, giving economic contribution (Friends of Humanity) and also precious suggestions full of enthusiasm and wisdom. We offer her to be part of an international group of supervisors of Alice Project, to ensure one future to the schools, regardless the founders.
We will never get tired to thank a group of friends from Taiwan. For many years, with discretion, they have supported generously and constantly to our Chakma Project. They are very extraordinary people for their simplicity, sensitivity and courage to support us howsoever. They are also financing the construction of Maitreya statue.
Another group who deserves to be mentioned is the Azienda Flora of Rosario Pizzi. All the company employees tax themselves monthly to help our Chakma Project. (The initiative is similar to the one that has been realized for twenty years by the Cooperative CDM in Florence). A touching example of solidarity! In the end, one special thought goes to Luciana Usellini, and important point of Reference for Alice. With regard to school activities, our research and experimentation go on especially in the field of didactics of English language, Mathematics and History. Since it is not easy to find teachers with a good basic preparation, our school tried to bypass teachers’ difficulties by means of technology. Thanks to some sponsors, we equipped our schools with projectors and computers that we use to show the students short documentaries relating to the various subjects. In particular, two volumes have been published about learning of the English language accompanied by selected video material, after a three-year research. The books were financed mainly by the non profit organization Anjali of Treviso and Shining Hope. There are three more small volumes about simultaneous learning of English, Hindi and Italian.
We are caring out an interesting research on the use of visualization in math teachings in the first grades of primary school, linked to attention and concentration (see picture above). The results achieved up now are amazing and they have been published for the first time, by Antenna 3, a local TV channel in Italy in the region of Triveneto, during a special one-hour program on “Alice’s Family”. Link:https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=v9B2lxgle04
To the right – Second line: Natalie Re, with all the staff of Alice’s teachers, who work on the research. Photo on the right: the guests of Antenna 3 during the transmission dedicated to Alice.
Some Important news: the first teachers’ trainer from our school.
For the first time, after 20 years’ activity, Mohan, a former student of Alice, now a teacher in Bodhgaya and Sarnath, has led, with a great success, a training course for new teachers in Sarnath and Bodhgaya.
He shared his knowledge about Alice’s didactics relating to the teaching of History (“circular reading” and not linear), visualized Maths (using simple tools like coloured stones and lights), English (by singing and Special Program – Philosophy of the Wise Rabbit).
Mohan in the History room of Bodhgaya School
Another confirmation of the validity of Alice’s methodology comes from Nathalie Re, a French scholar of Neurosciences, who visited our schools for a few-week research. She writes: “Neurosciences confirm that the educational intuition of Alice is correct”.
Students of class XI and XII in Sarnath
The didactic vision of Alice Project not only is confirmed by scientific researches but also by our students’ academic results: this year they obtained brilliant results in the state exam, 100% passed, 90% got first division qualification (excellent). Positive signals for Alice’s philosophy and methodology come from different places, not only in India but also in other countries. This interest raises some questions to the people in charge of Alice: Should we accept the risk of enlarging our project? Here the two different souls of Alice turn up: one who slows down and suggests caution, the other who on the contrary is willing to accept the risk. It’s understandable that there are different visions, but the aim is to ensure a future to the schools, where everyone works in the respect of students, teachers and people who help us and trust us. We can guarantee that all the endowments to the school are used according to the intention of the sponsors. We would like to inform that none of the people directly in charge of the schools get any compensation for the work done in those 20 years. All the incomes from trainings, conferences, books sail etc. are devolved to the three schools, so that they can go on.
Judith Soussans, in charge of the NGO, in the studios of the French TV. On the right: Father Tamussi with the children of primary school in Sarnath.
We were talking about expansion. After a 15 minutes transmission on the French national television about Alice Project, a large number of people showed a big interest in our research and asked for more information. So, a new Alice NGO was born in Paris, with the aim of spreading our pedagogy, through training courses, publication of books and conferences, and in future the foundation of a private school based on Alice’s vision. In May and June Luigina held a training course in Paris and in September – October in Rome.
In a previous Christmas Letter we spoke about Father TizianoTamussi, from the “Re- constructors in Prayer”. In his community in Liguria, some training courses on Alice Project and some “re-constructors” particularly interested in this educational proposition, they put effort in going deeper through this experience. This year they have been invited to present Alice Project to a school in Genoa and after to work with a group of teachers. In the end of August they organized a summer camp for about 25 kids, following the inner path of Alice Project. The results obtained were positive.
There are many requests from university students to realize their thesis on Alice.
These days, a student in Educational Science from Bologna University is completing documentation on the holistic vision of Alice Project and the didactics of mathematics in relation to visualization and attention. At present a psychologist from Urbino University is doing her training in the school of Bodhgaya to obtain the enrolment in the Italian register of psychologists in Italy. She is writing a didactic guide for western teachers who want to know and practice our methodology.
What does it Alice mean in those difficult times? Here is what Giorgia, a former volunteer wrote to us, after the tragedy in France: “Only now, I canunderstand how Alice Project is precious and how it has changed me. In front of the French tragedy, I couldn’t help thinking of you and what you teach in your schools: forgiveness, thoughts control, awareness, to obtain mind and world peace”.
On the left: Mauro Scardovelli; in the middle Sushuma, “mother of the residents”; on the right Madam SamiaCoupat, French psychotherapist.
A qualified and unexpected comment comes from the famous psychologist Mauro Scardovelli who wrote a review for the book by Gloria Germani on Alice Project, on Youtube(https://www.yotutube.com/watch?v=RUN52pxh1x0). He has textually said: “Alice Project is the school of future, the education that deserves to be saved”. In the meantime the writer Gloria Germani keeps on promoting Alice in several conferences. One of the most important was organized in September in Vaiano, Prato, from TerranovaMagazine, on “the School that is changing”, to which over a thousand people took part. Recently, two Chakma teachers from Bodhgaya school went to South India, in the state of Karnataka, to attend a course of yoga. Also Sanjay, a boy who has been adopted by the school, is in the south, in Bangalore, to complete a three-year course on Yoga Therapy.
Inthe school of Bodhgaya there are at present 21 Chakma boys, and in Sarnath the residents are 31: girls, boys and children. Last April, Sushuma arrived at the girl hostel. She is a 35 years old lady, mother of four children with a difficult family situation. With her, there is Deepu, the younger son who is studying in our school. In March-April the French psychotherapist MadamSamiaCoupat, who has worked for many years in her country and in Africa, proposed some labs to the students of middle and high school. Furthermore, the presence of Madam Samia has been very useful for managing some difficult cases in our hostel. We thank Assessor Verso (Psych synthesis of Florence) to propose and support this experience.
Swami Varishtanand, Lama Monlam. Photo below: Maulana Mohammad Riyajuddin and father Aloisio
During this year the representatives of four different religious traditions came to talk with our students and teachers: Lama Monlam (who lives in Nepal and for many years has followed Alice Project), Father Aloisio (Franciscan fromVinayalayaAsharam in Sarnath), Maulana Mohammad Riyajuddin and Swami Varishtanand (pediatrician and psychologist).
The meeting with those wise people has made us reflect on the universal values which are at the root of all religious traditions.
H.H. Karmapa (Onthe photo during one visit in Sarnath school), who has visited our schools four times, is an important religious leader and his Trust has decided to help our project in the belief that Alice will be – as said the psychologist Scardovelli – the school of future. Two former students, Ajay (picture above) and AbheyChakma, teach the monks of theirmonastery. Ajay is also in charge of the association Chakma Rural Development, to which are part many former students of Alice’s. Recently the volunteers of the group built the street for the people of villages in Arunachal Pradesh (see picture on the right).
Sudhakar’s daughter and Bipin’s twins
And now some family life news from our former students, now teachers in Alice schools. Sudhakar, English teacher and in charge of the office, two months ago had a beautiful child, called SudhaGound. “She sleeps peacefully and she doesn’t cry” says the mum Sadhna, smiling, while she shows her in front of a poster in Bodhgaya School. “My two twins, one boy and one girl – says BipinSukla, in charge of the school in Bodhgaya –sleep all theday and cry all thenight!”Bipin has a 7 years old daughter also, who was longing for a brother. In May, Yogendra Pal (picture below), another former student in charge of the administration, got married to Minu, a university student from a good family, as they like to stress here. It was a big party for the formerschool mates and hostel residents. For him we invert the traditional wish which was used to be said to young married couple in my place: “Wishes and..daughters!”. Infact, now-a-days, thanks to the new policies of the governments, girls enjoy more privilege than boys and they have bigger opportunities to find a state job. The wheel turns, isn’t it?
We hug two very dear friends, Lorenzo Bonaventura and Camilla Previato (picture above, surrounded by orphan children of their Ashram), who left India after 7 years of social work in Bal Ashram of Varanasi, where they also founded a school inspired to the Alice’s philosophical and didactic techniques. Camilla and Lorenzo are an important reference point for me since we have shared many things. The “Little Treviso” that used to meet from time to time in a famous pizzeria on the Ganga in Varanasi, recharged me and gave me the strength to face the daily challenges with enthusiasm. By the way the two friends will carry on working in the field of education and engaged themselves to be testimonials for our project, together with Luigina, in Italy and abroad.
We would like to remember three people who passed away in 2015: the Former Minister of Education RajbaliTiwari, Roberta Scandellari and Marina Sequi. RajbaliTiwari, in the past, came regularly to the school in Sarnath to teach the students moral values through stories. A man of big intelligence and even bigger heart. Roberta Scandellari for years visited and supported our project, putting us in contact with precious people for Alice.
Raj Bali Tiwari, Roberta Scandellari and Marina Sequi.
Martina was very affectionate to the students of Bodhgaya school and she didn’t forget them in her will, leaving them a generous offer. We remember the three of them with infinite gratitude. However their lack, doesn’t leave a hole in the family of Alice, because they live in our memories and in all the people who benefited from them. One for all: the child of the photos below.
You can see, in the picture, a child with sad eyes, who shows deeps scars. He is the nephew of Bodhgaya cook. His story is dramatic. Months ago, his mother had once more an argument with the alcoholic husband. In an act of desperation she poured some Kerosene oil and set herself on fire in front of her children. The youngest tried to put out the fire hugging the mother and he got seriously burned.
After around 15 days of medical treatments in a local hospital, he was dismissed. The dust, the lack of hygiene of his very poor house, caused an infection which put in danger his life. We arrived just in time. None of the local hospitals wanted to accept the child in (for the fear he would die). We carried him urgently in the best hospital of Varanasi and we saved his life. Now he studies in Bodhgaya, where the teachers try to help him to elaborate his terrible trauma (see third picture) and the smile has come back to his face (even if sometimes he silently cries, whispering “I want my mum!”). So, we dedicate that smile to all our sponsors. In that smile all our dead friends keep on living.
I would like to conclude this on-line letter dedicating to all our friends the abstract of a nursery rhyme which I wrote some years ago. It is Alice’s answer and solution to hate and wars. A message of hope for this Christmas 2015: we can change hate in love, through an inner change: the birth, indeed, of the Divine Child in our heart. Says the Old Wise Rabbit to Alice’s student:
Remember: all, therefore, depends on your judging;
From there emotions of joy and sorrow have beginning.
It’s you that paint thoughts of every colour,
Triggering emotions of joy, anger and rancour.
That I want to say, when I talk of I-Creator.
Our mind works like a projector:
It throws out there, unconsciously, its own inventions
Taking them for true and not for pure illusions.
“I’m curious: what is out there, beyond the understanding?”
“There’s who believes that all exists and who says: nothing!”
Better remain with the certainty of phenomena of percipience
The true cause, I repeat, of all the problems of existence
Think that it doesn’t appear to us like it is, the realness.
Because it’s mediated by the senses and the consciousness
The world created by filters is what I palpate
That is my reality that every day I reciprocate.
This is the moral: if you don’t feel good and you want to change,
React, without projections, to hate with the love and absolution.
To hit the source of pain is the only solution
The proud, the revenge and wrath of our I-Creator.
(Translated by Vittorio Lugnan)
I thank you, all my dear friends, from the deep of my heart for your support and Merry Christmas from the whole family of Alice.
Just few lines to thank all the people, the associations, the schools, the volunteers, who have supported Alice Project for years through their work, their personal contribution, organizing training courses, conferences, markets, concerts…participating in the Lottery
I thank you all and Merry Christmas.
Volunteering association “Progetto Alice Onlus” Banca Popolare Etica- Filiale di Treviso, IBAN CODE: IT43 I 050 1812000 000000116204 SWIFT CODE: CRTIT2T84A (From abroad Italy) Fiscale code of the No profit organization, if you want to give 5X1000 to Alice Project: F.C. 94059510266 Ref: Luigina De Biasi – e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , tel.0438 893325
“Progetto Alice Universal Education School ONLUS” (Friuli) ITALY
Banca Popolare di Vicenza – Fil Cividale del Friuli (UD)
IBAN CODE: IT41 N 05728 63740 731570528546
BIC / SWIFT CODE: BPVIIT22731 (From abroad Italy)
Fiscale code of the No profit organization, if you want to give 5X1000 to Alice Project: F.C 94103860303