ENGLISH CAMP

ค่ายภาษาอังกฤษ


a particularly good activity for the monastery to provide, owing to the social degradation 

 

         

GEORGE LAMB

 

The English camp I was able to attend at Watpah Kanjanabhisek (meaning ‘Golden Jubilee Forest Monastery’ in English, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of King S---) in May 2006 was a unique opportunity to share English, my first and only language, with children from Phu Wieng and the surrounding villages. 

 

For many of them this was the first exposure to the language and is a good opportunity for them to become acquainted with it, which hopefully will be of help for education later in their schooling, when maybe the knowledge gained here will aid confidence or give enthusiasm for what is a hard language to learn, according to those who have successfully done so!

 

It was good to see the excitement they felt at the group exercises and the way that the facilitator of the camp, a Thai girl called Nit and friends, were able to make the task of teaching an enjoyable and stimulating group activity, with many different games and songs to help convey the particular topic. 

 

During my time traveling from England, my home country, I have been through many different cultures and nationalities which have provided a wide range of experiences with the local people of all ages.  One consistent experience I’ve had is to see the similarities between us all, especially in the children who, having less time to grow apart, seem to have the most in common, and this was evident in the children attending the camp. 

 

In education it is a well known truth that both the teacher and the student learn from the experience, and this was true for my small part.  It was a unique opportunity for me to connect directly with children of a different culture and be able to share a little of what for me is instinctive knowledge.  One of the benefits I experienced was to not be limited or held back by my childhood reservations and shyness when put in front of many people to speak.  One of the obvious aids to this freedom was that I could not have had a more accepting or receptive audience when speaking, the children sat patiently and interestedly listened to me speaking of who I was and where I was from.  I believe now that all one needs to be able to speak before any group is faith in oneself and knowledge of the subject one has chosen to speak on, and this is applicable to any of the arenas one may move through in life, professional as well as spiritual and social.

 

The English camp is a particularly good activity for the monastery to provide, owing to the social degradation which seems to affect Thailand as well as most other countries today.  Being a global symptom in the modern world, everywhere in our societies we see the encroachment of globalization in the entertainment industry which is strangling local culture and lifestyle, especially affecting the young who are very exposed and highly susceptible to the desires and glamour of the entertainment industry while having few established references to live from but for the environment in which they live. 

 

In the famous literature of classical western thinkers and writers, Plato wrote beautifully of the trial and execution of his Teacher, Socrates, on the charge of ‘corrupting the young’ when in fact he was goading and entreating them to Think and Enquire for themselves into the nature of Reality and understand that in fact man knows nothing of real lasting value.  It is not an unreasonable claim that the modern world by its very mode of living and operating is in fact ‘corrupting the young’ – that the supposed crime for which Socrates life was taken is the same crime committed now in the modern world of aggressive marketing which sets out with the conscious intentent to attract the children of the world by appealing to cheap values and crude satisfaction. 

 

This should not be taken in a dark light, rather the view that if there is a lower path which binds and conditions, there must also be a higher path of freedom and liberation and it is that which must be practiced if we are to provide the young with the nutritious playful environment which will both educate, nurture and enliven, which in time has the opportunity to develop a society which naturally will not be perfect but which may also have the opportunity to transcend some of the binding conditioned living which results from the practice of poor values and agendas driven for personal gain and satisfaction alone.

 

It is fitting then to see how the Buddha’s teaching can be put into practice in providing the young with the right conditions for prosperous growth and development into affective adults capable of dealing with the rigors of the world with out resorting to the crude material supports which instead of elevating and freeing, actually lower and degenerate, causing more darkness while not even helping the causing conditions.

 

An opportunity the young have at Watpah Kanjanabhisek is to live as a monk for the school holiday and receive the Dharma in their lives on a daily basis, encouraging Right View, Right Action, Right Understanding, etc through the teaching which is given by the abbot; Luangpoh Sudhiro and Sangha.  It’s a valuable opportunity for children who would otherwise be out in the tumultuous cauldron of the modern social world of global entertainment conglomerates.  As it is, in the Monastery, they have a spiritually nutritious environment where they’re able to absorb wisdom from Luangpoh Sudhiro by virtue of his impeccable example and practice.  Its this exposure to the traditional values which supports them when they return to their homes and villages all around Khon Kaen Province and others from which they came, where they meet others, heart to heart and mind to mind in whom lives the same light which is illuminated by the teaching of Dhamma.