This Christmas letter was written by many “hands”: students of Alice Project together with Ilaria and Luigina, who want to tell you what has happened this year. It wasn’t easy to remember everything, events, people who visited us, new experiences….. So please excuse us if something is missing!
Valentino, after years and years of uninterrupted presence in the schools in India, decided to have a few months break and devote some time to inner self- research.
Ilaria, who comes from Piedmont and spent some time in our schools last year as a volunteer, will be the coordinator during these months.
“In January some of our students participated in Bhumi Puja, organized to bless the new buildings in Sarnath and Bodhgaya, where a lot of secondary and upper secondary school students will be hosted. At present our school is recognized up to class X and in the future up to XII so it must have classrooms of a special size and chemistry and physics laboratories.
New wing – Sarnath school Bhumi puja New wing – Bodhgaya school
The society ‘Shining Hope’, who has been helping Alice Project since last year, not only contributed to the completion of the last big building of SarnathSchool but also to its enlargement and, in Bodhgaya, to the building of new classrooms.
New building in Sarnath school
Thanksto their sponsorship, two of the old classrooms in SarnathSchool were restored and now have become four bedrooms to host future visitors. Other rooms are being restored as part of the Guest House Project, which we hope, together with the Pizzeria, will contribute towards the expenses of the three schools.
GraziellaZanoletti, from the Swiss Association ‘Friends of Humanity’, who supports Alice Project, has contributed personally to the furniture of some rooms and in particular of the library. Graziella came to the school in August together with Norwegian film director OysteinRakkenes, who, in 2004, received many awards for his film about KiranBedi’s activities. (In Gandhi’s footsteps:KiranBedi) and is now making a documentary film about Alice Project.
GraziellaZanoletti with OysteinRakkenes
At the end of February Yogendra, a former student now working for the Project, and Ilaria went on a three day long journey to reach Arunachal Pradesh in order to visit the school and meet the families of the Chakmas who have lived in Sarnath and Bodhgaya hostels for years. Here is what they say about this experience: “Our first stop was in Deban, a small mountain village in the forest, totally unpolluted and free from any form of technology. The people in Deban live in bamboo pile dwellings and survive thanks to a subsistence rural economy. In the village there is one Alice Project School: a small traditional building made with the contribution of all the people in the village. We could see that also here the Alice Project education system is used with good results and we could talk to Chakmas’ parents and the village head about the Project and what is necessary to improve. After spending a few days at the school, we left and visited the families living in the nearby villages. We could reach these families thanks to two former Chakma students driving their motorbikes on roads almost non-existent.
Yogendra and Ilaria meeting a representative of a village and a family
When we arrived at one of the students’ house, we used to sit outside and, showing pictures and a video, we talked about the views of our school, how it works, how the residents live there and, of course, we informed them about their children. A lot of families have not seen their children for two or more years and, since telephone doesn’t work well there, they can rarely talk to them. They welcomed us very warmly and we could see that they are very kind, shy and friendly people with a high sense of self-respect and dignity. This journey made us better understand the students who live in our schools and their condition. We understood that, although they live in an unpolluted and amazingly beautiful place, they suffer from problems so hard to solve that all choices and development are deeply affected. Chakmas suffer from both emigration trauma and from not being fully recognized in the Country where they live. In our opinion, this feeling of precariousness, rather than the feeling of belonging, has taken, over the years, so deep roots that it has led to deforestation of wide areas and escape of young people looking for revival, from villages to big cities. We find that Alice Project works in this area is really important and our education program here must take account of the specific conditions of these people. In our opinion they need to be supported and guided, in order to achieve awareness that development must respect their identity and culture”.
After our visit there, a group of two people in charge of the school and the local Mukhiya (village head) came to Sarnath to talk about the present situation, how to solve some problems and possible future prospects.
In March the French psychotherapist Madam Samia Coupat came and worked with us again. She gave a course on the age of development of children, from birth to youth. All the teachers took part and showed great interest. She also helped some local people to overcome problems and difficulties. Samia, Ilaria and Luigina
“The school year finished in March and the new session started in April. At the end of May we went on holidays. During the summer the monsoon arrived and this year it was particularly abundant. The heavy rain made the river Ganges overflow and many parts of the city of Varanasi were flooded. Water
and mud invaded alsoBal Ashram located on the banks of river Ganges. The children and some teachers living there were hosted in SarnathSchool for two weeks”.
The school in that Ashram isfollowing the Alice Project contents and methodology from years.
Children from Bal Ashram with a teacher
“Most of our students are Hindu. Chakmas and Mompas are Buddhist, few are Muslim, Christian or Jain, and so, since Alice Project is an inter-religious project, in September we invited MaulanaMohammad Riyajuddin to talk about Islam. We understood that in every religion people pray the same God even if God has different names and that all religious traditions have a common teaching base.
We also received the visit of two Pandits from Gayatri Mantra Society. They mainly emphasized the benefits we can get from reciting this ancient mantra in our present time, a time of materialism and consumerism, which do not bring happiness to peoples’ hearts. They also stressed how important it is for us to rediscover and recover our roots and traditions.
In October a group of French people arrived in Sarnath and, together with some Italians, took part in a ten-day training course given by Valentino”.
Most of them had followed a first level course in Italy and France last year with Luigina. The training course in Sarnath was greatly appreciated by everybody in the group. This is what they said at the end of it:
“This course helped us to know more about the philosophy and methodology of Alice Project. We shared our traditions, teachers and students. We were surprised to see how good is the relationship between the teachers and the students who hada great ability to pay attention and concentration during the lessons. Besides, we saw how well residents collaborate and help each other. They really made us feel very comfortable during our stay here at the school. The course has opened up our minds and led us to a better knowledge of ourselves. Back to our countries we will be more able to help children and young people who are in difficulty.
During the training course a group of students took part, with interest and enthusiasm, in some laboratories (theatre, painting and costume jewellery) proposed and given by some trainees.
In the month of June Sanje came back from Karnataka (south India) where he followed a 3 year course to become an expert at Yoga Therapy. While he is waiting for a job, he is helping both with office work and at the Sarnath School.
Also this year some groups of people came and visited our school:
Mauro De March with an international group.
Denis with the ‘Dharma NatureGroup’
Lucio with some Italians from association‘Freedom for Children’, who then paid for the furniture of a classroom
We thank everybody for their interest they showed in our Project and for their generous donations.
A special thank to FondazioneZanetti of Treviso who donated money to make roofs safer in some of the buildings damaged by fire two years ago.
Other people spent some time with us: Riccardo from Padua, who gave English lessons and did office work; Cristina from Genoa who did research for her degree thesis on Alice Project; Francesca and Simone from Tortona helped during the training course, in particular Simone filmed all Valentino’s lessons so that they can be used and investigated in the future.
As last year, in August, they set up a holiday camp at farmhouse “RicostruttorinellaPreghiera” of Father Tiziano, with about twenty children and their parents. The camp was organized by some “Ricostruttrici” and was greatly appreciated for the contents of the many activities, for the moments of reflexion, the laboratories… A major part of the contents used for these activities were all taken from the Alice Project Program.
In September, at Vaiano near Prato, during the event “Tuttaun’altrascuola”, they presentedthe Alice Project for the second time. Gloria Germani, who wrote the book “A scuola di felicità e decrescita: Alice Project” introduced the Project; AgataMontevecchi, responsible of Onlus in Friuli, proposed a meditation practised by the students of A.P.; Alice Lugnan, who spent six months in the schools of Sarnath and Bodhgaya to write down her degree thesis, talked about her experience there; Silvia Diolaiuti, trainee psychologist for six months with us and Patrizia Di Edoardo, elementary teacher, who spent some time in summer in Bodhgaya, illustrated the Alice Project Program and showed the results of the integrated mathematics teaching method.
Gloria Agata Alice Silvia Patrizia
Also this year there have been some training courses on Alice Project Program, sometimes subsequent to a conference. Many were the teachers, educators, parents and people interested in starting or going on working for self-consciousness. We mention one in particular which was organized by some ThichNhatHanh followers in one of their centres and also a workshop at Verona University proposed by Dr Antonia De Vita.
The wide participation and interest in our Project encourage us to go on proposing our Education Program.
I would like to thank all the new and the old friends and sponsors and all those who support the Project by giving money individually or through activities like training courses, conferences, local markets, auction sales of photographs, yoga meetings, sales of cakes, lotteries…
All donations collected by Treviso Onlus, including those raised from training courses, are used to contribute to the general expenses of the Project.
We warmly thank you all for your precious help in going on with our educational work and wish you a Happy Christmas.
Sarnath, 21stNovember 2016
Associazione di Volontariato “Progetto Alice Onlus” BancaPopolareEtica- Filiale di Treviso,
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CodiceFiscaledellaOnlus, se voletedestinareil 5X1000 dell’ Irpef al Progetto Alice: C.F. 94059510266
Ref: Luigina De Biasi – e-mail: email@example.com , tel.0438 893325
“Progetto Alice Universal Education School ONLUS” (Friuli) ITALIA
BancaPopolare di Vicenza – FilCividale del Friuli (UD)
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CodiceFiscaledellaOnlus,sevoletedestinareil 5X1000 dell’ Irpef al Progetto Alice: C.F. 94103860303
Ref: AgataMontevecchi – e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com , tel. 0432 731021 – 339 4840132
Le coordinatebancarie in India
Awakening Special Universal Education – Bank of India, branch Bodhgaya, Gaya (Bihar)
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Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mob. 0091/ – 9670806060- 8858771850 Web: www.aliceproject.org , www.aliceproject.it