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The first Buddhist English Institution founded by the Jogye Order of Korea celebrated its 100th day on July 3rd. This school was built to nurture future global leaders, who will take on the responsibility of propagating Korean Buddhism to the world. The Institution opened its door on March 25th and is managed by Jijeong Sunim (Director) along with 9 other Sunims and two native English teachers. The first class begins at 7:30 a.m. and the day ends around 9:00 p.m. This article will introduce the way these monks perform their duties in English from the moment they wake up until the time they fall asleep.
At the InternationalBuddhistSchool, the students are taught to discuss the contents of CNN and BBC News, learn to write stories, and draw pictures appropriate to a given theme and discuss in English. Even the monks who are normally silent are bound to express themselves in this situation. In order to express themselves, they have to continuously look within. The meal time is not any different. As opposed to the silent ways the monks eat in other temples, International Buddhist Monks talk to foreign teachers during their meals. As such, even the meal time is utilized as a studying time. The time to study the Dharma is the same. Much of the English Buddhist terms are unfamiliar to the monks. The only way to become familiarized is to speak and write repeatedly in English.
Special activities operate at the same level. For example, the monks went on a field trip on June 3rd to Itaewon, Seoul. Maya, a native speaking teacher who coordinated the trip, designed the trip in a way that foreign workers and managers working at a hotel restaurant will only respond in English. On this trip, 9 monks were divided into 3 groups to complete a task, such as taking a picture of specific sign or store front, finding a specific item from a designated store, etc. Their task must operate under one term, only English must be spoken; following this rule, the monks poured out questions to the passing foreigners. It was a new learning experience, which allowed the class room learning to transform in to real life learning. Although it may seem like an insignificant experience, the monks all had a great time.
In addition, the Templestay was conducted last April for the foreign visitors. The monks helped to explain the temple life to people from India, U.S.A., and Australia and made special mugwort rice cake and had a great time. The monks also made western food, such as spaghetti and risotto to share with monks in HwaunsaTemple.
The role of the native speaking teacher is quite big. Kendra, a native speaker who made documentaries in school allows students to discuss global issues using her documentary. Maya, who makes stained-glass, applies creativity in all her class work. She also organizes video conference to parents, relatives and friends and special field trip (ex. Itaewon), which makes the class vibrant and never boring.
Due to a wide range of programs and limitless effort of the instructors, the monks always feel happy to study.
Sungwon Sunim said, “It was very difficult at first to converse only in English. However, now it has become very natural” and added, “Thanks to the interesting lectures organized by the instructors, I feel very comfortable and I gained a lot of self-confidence.” Seongjae Sunim also stated, “In the past, I used to feel very awkward and tense when I encountered foreigners. But, I was able to overcome my weakness through these studies.” and added, “If there is an opportunity for me to go to a foreign country to propagate Korean Buddhism, I would gladly take the opportunity.”
Although the changes occurring in the Students may seem very small, it is quite well defined. We can’t help to wonder what kind of transformation will take place to the monks until next year. We look forward to the birth of a new “Great Buruna Master” who will globalize Korean Buddhism.
-Introduction to the International Buddhist Schools of Jogye Order-
The first International Buddhist Schools for the female monks opened its door this year in Korea. This professional school was built to educate female monks who will contribute greatly to globalization of Korean Buddhism. This school offers 2 years program divided into 10 semesters, and the monks can go abroad in their last semester of studies. The monks will go to US in Janary 6th,2011. This is when they finish their first year of studies. They will learn Buddhist activities in foreign countries and have various inter-religious experiences.
All classes are taught in English and the curriculums include Introduction to Buddhist Doctrine, English Greeting, Buddhist education and counseling, Buddhist art, computer literacy, Zen Meditation methods, Templestay operating system, etc. In addition, special lectures such table manners and cooking methods are taught, as well as the field trips are organized for the monks to directly interact with foreign visitors.
The school’s curriculum is divided mainly into two parts: English studies and Buddhist doctrine. In the morning, daily English conversation class is taught by a native speaking teacher. In the afternoon, Buddha’s life and other Buddhist related studies are taught in English. The evening classes include diary writing in English, watching BBC and CNN news and discussing in English. At the end of each semester, a formal exam will be given to students to evaluate their progress.