Like last year, this Christmas Letter is written by A.P. students together with Ilaria and Luigina.
Valentino has decided to continue his program of inner research far from India, although he is constantly in touch and personally involved in running and leading the Project together with Ilaria, who is in charge of coordinating the activities and in particular looks after administration. .
Together we have tried to recall the events of the last few months which have passed so quickly to induce us to reflect about time how fast it runs and how precious it is.
“We have tried to use it as well as we could, during the school activities, at home with our families and in our free time.
In last year’s Christmas Letter, we have already told you something about the new big building and its enlargement. All projects have been successfully completed (new classrooms, toilets, chemistry laboratory…) and at present some classes are already inside and using them.
Enlargement of the new building Students during morning assembly
In Bodhgaya School instead, worksare still inprogress”.
All this was made possible thanks to the Association Shining Hope which has been supporting A.P. for two years and recently promised to keep on helping us with maintenance and consolidation of everything has been done so far.
With the contribution of Fondation Zanetti of Treviso we repaired and made safe the roofs of two classrooms and two laboratories, damaged by the fire accident of December 2014, which were only covered by iron sheets and straw.
We have also renovated a few rooms with en-suite toilets, at present used by some Chakma boys, residents at Sarnath school.
“Our Headmaster, Awanish Mishra has a new office located in the building, facing the one just completed. At present almost all classrooms are concentrated in the same area, surrounded by many trees,which make air good and allow us to breathe and meditate better.
At our school you can perceive a peaceful atmosphere which favours better attention and concentration during our lessons and also good relationships with our classmates and teachers. Teachers, who are usually available to repeat the lessons when difficulties arise and don’t get angry when we ask for further explanations.
We also think that this peaceful atmosphere around us, all the teachings we receive and our daily practice have reduced almost to zero bullying episodes, very frequent and constantly increasing in the other schools.
The spiritual education we are receiving here helps us to see beyond diversities (traditions, castes, economic conditions, religions…) and get thetrue peace of heart.
In the last months some representatives from different religious traditions have visited our school and met us students.In December, before Christmas, we received the visit of Father Amal and Swami Varishthanand from Rama Krishna Mission in Varanasi. In January the residents met Lama Zopa Rimpoche and Lama Monlam. Then Lama Osel spoke to all of us.
After this we met a Jainrepresentative ,RatnaJain, a representative of ASS.Gayatri Mantra, Bhagwan Singh Yadav ( who also celebrated a fire puja after reciting mantras ) and Maulana Mohammad Riyajuddin.
A few days ago Father Tiziano Tamussi ,from Ricostruttori nella Preghiera came back to us and he will spend some time also at our school in Bodhgaya .
Each of them spoke about universal values, following the traditions they represented and in their teachings we have found some “ common roots”: don’t kill, don’t rob, don’t lie, respect not only people but also animals and plants…
We are all interconnected, like the rings of a long chain and we have the same Divine Nature. In our school, in addition to the normal subjects (Hindi, English, Mathematics…), we practice yoga, meditation and recite the mantras which arean important part of the Special Program..
We have also followed several lessons given by Valentino, during the time he spent in Sarnath. He taught us in a simple and interesting way how our mind works, he explained the projections, and how to prevent or reduce the problem of bullyism.
As for meditation, we practice many different kinds, some are simple (breathing meditation and peace meditation), others more complex (Trataka, Tong len and Nadi Purification meditation) .We would mainly like to remind: Silent Mind, Wonderful Mind .
In February exams have started and the students of classes X and XII have passed them with very good results.
Students of Sarnath and Bodhgaya schools, from February until mid March, have participated in reciting 125.000 Gayatri Mantras, which ended up with the Fire Puja , celebrated by a Pundit of G.M.A. and a big feast was offered to the students and teachers.
In springwe organized numerous open air games and we had a very good time.
This year she started a training course about sexuality for the teachers, to make their work with students easier.
The teachers have greatly appreciated her training proposals. After that she spent a few days at Bodhgaya School, where she worked with the teachers to help them understand and improve the relationship with themselves and the students.
Also Erika from Venice spent two months with us. She has helped the English teacher both in class and in the office.
We would like to thank these people who offer their time and knowledge to our Project with great generosity.
In June about 45 teachers from Sarnath and Bodhgaya followed a training course for a week given by Headmaster Awanis Mishra , Sudhakar and Mohan.
Since the number of the classes has increased, three more teachers have been enrolled.
On 21st June, (international yoga day), at Sarnath we organized a meeting open to everybody to illustrate this discipline, its philosophy and the benefits which derive from its practice. The numerous people who took part have then followed with great interest both theory and practice of this ancient discipline.
During the summer we came to know that Madame Yvonne, a retired teacher who lived in Belgium, was no more with us. In 1999 she spent a month at Sarnath schooltogether with Madame Valeria Selleri and Father Andre’ Marie. After that she came again for a short visit.
At the time she taught the older students how to get more concentration by making a Mandala, a practiceshe had been doing for years and that shewanted to share with us. After offering a part of her savingsto buy some land near the first school building, she expressed the will thatwe should build a flower mandala in the centre of it.
Of course we accomplished her wish and since then the flowers grown in a circle have, and always will, reminded us of Madame Yvonne, a very kind and generous person who trusted Alice Project and has alwayssupported it: Thank you Madame Yvonne!
Recentlythere has been another death: the father of Subash, a Chakma boy residentat Sarnath school. We knew that unfortunately he had been suffering from a bad disease for years.
After this sad news we have something very joyful to tell you: Bipin has become father of another boy while Sudhakar of another daughter and Yogendra had his first daughter. Congratulations to all of them! In Italy:
Starting from a few years ago, at the community of Ricostruttori nella Preghiera of P. Tiziano Tamussi, they organize some summer camps for children and parents.
Like previous years, also this summer the “ricostruttrici”, a group of women, expert in different educational skills , after preparing the program of the formative week, organized a summer camp for the children, parents and teachers. These summer camps and the monthly meetings with groups of children are aimed at helping them to get to know their inner world and improve the relationship with themselves, the others and the outer world,mainly following the teachings and program of A.P.
Ilaria, back from India in June, was with Valentino duringhis stay in Italy:
“On the evening of 26th July the whole town centre of Zero Branco (TV) was celebrating and warmly welcoming Valentino, who was back after 7 years. Friends from everywhere, relatives andfellow citizens have gathered together to take part in the special feast for Valentino organized by his lifelong friend Toni Gasparoni. The next day Valentino landed at Venice airport where he was warmlywelcomed in a touching atmosphere.It was the beginning of an intense period of time, characterized by a remarkable interest in the Project and importantappreciations for all the work done. On 29th July the mayor of Zero Branco, Mirco Feston, gave Valentino the Zerotino year’s award “for his activity in the field of education in India”.
On that occasion they had the opportunity to exchange opinions and share their concern about current events and the role of education in solving the consequent problems..
A few days later Valentino had a dinner with some former students of the first class in which he started experimenting the Alice Project in Italy, in 80s. Men and women nearly forty years old were really eager to meet their old teacher in the pizzeria where they recalled significant episodes in their lives to say how those strange and very special lessons helped them to achieve inner knowledge and awareness and overcome difficult moments.An intense and touching experiencewhich represents a further confirmation of the validity and benefits of A.P. methodology. It was very interesting to listen to a former student girl suffering from multiple sclerosis. She said she could overcome the paralysis of the left side of her body thanks to the visualization exercises learnt at the elementary school from teacher Valentino Giacomin.
In the following weeks Valentino was very busy with meetings, courses and conferences. In July he gave a training course on views and method of Alice Project at the “Comunita’ dei Ricostruttori nella Preghiera”, in San Pietro Vara, in the region of Liguria. It was a five day full immersion in the philosophy and methods of Alice, with theory and practical lessons with the children of the Community. One of the participants said: “Marvellous informal and generous training on the views of Alice Project. An opportunity for teachers and parents to open up our heart and mind!”
Then, after a period of about a month at Sarnath school where he continued the formative training for teachers and students and helped Mrs Patrizia di Edoardo, a teacher who is preparing a practical guide to help teachers to use Alice methodology in class, Valentino went back to Italy and stayed in different cities to talk about Alice Project. The writer and friend Gloria Germani has generously contributed to organize events and conferences in some cities in Tuscany. In fact Mrs Germani has been trying to spread Alice Project for years in Italy. Particularly successful the evening at Odeon cinema in Florence, with the projection of the latest documentary film on Alice Project and Valentino’s intervention in a really crowded hall. Alice Project was also present at Terra Nuova stand in Florence during “Didacta”, a fair dedicated to School: meetings and workshop with a number of really interested people.”
A particular “thank you” to Ilaria for all the work she has been doing so far and is keeping on doing, with great dedication and often facing uneasy situations.
As usual many training courses on Alice Project have been requested and done in different cities. They have been attended by teachers, educators, parents, social workers and also people interested in starting or continuing a personal inner work. Those requests for training, the wide participation and the interest in our Project have convinced us of how important Integrated Education is. The donations received during these training courses, from the sale of our books, the lottery … a little help to continueAlice Project in India.
Many thanks to all the new friends and to the old ones, who in many different ways have been supporting our schools in India for years. We wish you and your families a Joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year.
With a lot of gratitude,
Sarnath, 21 November 2017