Nelson was one of four school districts in British Columbia chosen to pilot a new academic course called “Global and Intercultural Studies.” In February, International Program Administrator Sandy Prentice and teacher Lindsay Robertson brought a group of grade 10-12 students to Yasodhara Ashram as part of their course. In a recent conversation, Lindsay talked about their experience.
“The Ashram came to mind for this course because it is a culture within a culture living slightly out of the mainstream on the East Shore. We thought this would be an incredible opportunity for students to have a cultural experience so close to home,” said Lindsay.
“The students all experienced being stretched and feeling awkward—all the feelings you have when you visit a different culture. Yet in the short time we were at the Ashram, they moved through this. Every single student said ‘What an incredible place.’ They were moved by the experience and realized there are people so close by—living in harmony together, with many different perspectives, opening up their minds and hearts.”
Lindsay knew the Ashram was “a safe place to come and that we would have a cultural experience. I hadn’t taken it a further step to realize that the Ashram is actually an intercultural community. It is a living example of this.
“One student described having confusing thoughts at the beginning of her experience—about silent meals and satsangs—and then gave feedback that ‘these thoughts can represent stereotypes of being in a new cultural place. This experience gave me a confusing question—what is intercultural? Based on this precious visit to the Ashram, I will be able to better focus on the purpose of this course.’”
Sandy felt that the experience “was much more powerful than I thought it was going to be. I looked at the impact on the students, who had no idea that the Ashram even existed. It challenged them in the most positive ways. Even for me—to be in the environment and to feel how tranquil, how respectful and loving it is—was really wonderful.”