Monday, May 23, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
I started off visiting my cousins Lindsey and Cyrus in Redwood City, CA a few days before the whole shebang started. This is a view of the sunset from their apartment balcony - beautiful!! I had a great time hiking while my cousins were at work and then eating wonderful cuisine downtown. Much thanks to their wonderful hospitality! :)
The first part of my three-part summer YES! journey began in Lake Tahoe, CA. I attended a YES! Support Meet and then was able to sit in on a Teacher Training Course for the YES! program for people that were already Art of Living teachers. The TTC was absolutely wonderful. Even though I was by far the youngest there at merely 19 years old, I was able to connect with these incredible people and have an awesome time. I sat through knowledge points that are taught on the YES! course, my favorite of which is "Be Buttonproof." Here's a quick synopsis of the point:
You know the saying that people "push your buttons"? You know exactly who or what kind of people I'm talking about, right? Which button do they press? Anger? Jealousy? Sadness? Fear? Everyone has these buttons. For example, if you walk up to a vending machine, put in your money, push the button for the item, you want, and nothing comes out...what do you do? Push the button a few more times? Shake the machine? Kick it, even? If nothing comes out, eventually you give up and walk away. When people come up to you and push your Anger or Jealousy or Sadness or Fear button, who has the control? They do, not you! They push your button because they want that reaction out of you. And what do we usually do? Give it to them, right? Why do we give other people control? You want to be in control of your emotions, right? Yes! So the next time someone comes up to you and pushes your button, be aware of the control you are giving them. That awareness will allow YOU to have control. You'll be able to recognize "Oh, s/he is pushing my Anger button right now" and just smile and walk away. The person may get frustrated and push the button a few more times to get what they want, just like that item from the vending machine that won't come out. But eventually, they'll give up and walk away. Can you do that? Can YOU "Be Buttonproof"?
Awesome, right? I got to learn great tools like that, and learn how to teach them, too. The cool thing about being the intern was that I got to participate in the TTC as well, not just sit and listen. I also took the Art of Meditation course, an advanced Art of Living Course (also called sahaj samadhi in Sanskrit), which is a requirement for YES teachers. I learned a different kind of meditation from the course, and I deeply appreciate how beautiful it is.
At one point, Rekha (pictured below with a red flower), who is kind of a big deal with IAHV (the International Association of Human Values), and I got to sit down together and discuss our dreams. She shared with me her vision for the YES! program, and the amazing things she believes that it can do. I shared with her my desire to make a difference through YES! -- and voíla, an idea was born between us. With my background as a Special Education major, after I become trained in the YES! program, we plan to develop a similar breathing/yoga/knowledge program for special needs children. For example, many children with ASD (Austism Spectrum Disorder) get anxious in certain situations, such as in crowds, or throw tantrums because of an uncomfortable anxious feeling. If these kids have even just the Victory Breath (ujjayi breath in Sanskrit) as a tool, once they start to feel that anxiety, they'll be able to control it and calm down. This would be a huge step in advancing in academics, social skills, and communication. I'm so excited to help design a program like this!
We all bonded over doing seva (service) and making and eating AMAAAZING vegetarian Indian meals. At night we would sing satsang, and a few times we did so on the shore of Lake Tahoe under the moon. It was incredible.
Setting moon on Lake Tahoe
We had some great times on the TTC:
THE WHOLE CREW!
After the Tahoe TTC, Jackie (an AWESOME YES+ girlie I met in Tahoe - we ended up as partners for the whole summer YES! internship journey) and I rode back to SF with Wes, another rockin' dude who drove us from San Francisco to Tahoe and back
. Jackie and I stayed with another Art of Living teacher, Clarke, for a few days as we did seva in the city. Jackie and I transplanted baby exotic plants into new homes at the Presidio National Park. It was a great experience, and really therapeutic. Our day with the plants ended with a trip to the hospital when Jackie got something stuck in her eye from the wind. She was a trooper and pushed through!
From San Francisco, Jackie and I traveled to Carmel Valley, CA for an Art of Silence course. This Art of Living course is another advanced course, the majority of which is spent in silence to quiet the mind and turn the attention inward. An Art of Living teacher-to-be must take a required amount of Art of Silence courses, and this was my first. I won't go into much detail about the course, but being in silence was a beautiful experience for me. We sang satsang every night, which had quickly become a favorite event of mine from my experience in Tahoe. We did yoga and seva, meditated, did some processes, walked in nature, and gained knowledge. The food, of course, was amazing - cooked by an absolutely spectacular cook named Hyson. I came out of the course feeling grounded, settled, and focused.
After the AOS course, I flew back to Chicago to stay with Bill Herman, an incredible force of nature - he is the coodinator for all YES! programs in the U.S. and the mover and shaker of the International Association of Human Values, the Art of Living's sister organization. This was awesome: I got to help teach the first few classes of a YES! program in a brand-new school in Chicago called the Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy (which is now the first school in the U.S. to hire a full-time YES teacher to teach YES! to all of its 180 students - VERY exciting!!). I taught the YES! teachers (Jenna, Clay, Linda, Pear, Kiki, and Bill) how to play Ninja, an awesome and addicting awareness game. Once I taught them, they couldn't stop playing! It was great to bond with them and also see how YES! is taught firsthand.
This entire experience, spanning about three weeks in the summer of 2010, was simply incredible. I came out of it with a whole new appreciation, excitement, and faith in the Youth Empowerment Seminar; a deeper sense of my own being; and a greater connection to nature and the people around me. I was privileged to meet countless amazing souls, hear inspiring stories, and to laugh, love, and learn more than I had before.
The YES! program is spreading wildly across the United States, and the demand for the program in schools is much higher than the amount of teachers currently trained. I believe with all my heart that I can truly make a difference as an Art of Living teacher. As my first post below explains, my dream is to be that teacher that a student will always remember because I was able to help him or her realize who s/he truly is. We all have that special teacher, right? If you wish, you can still donate by clicking the Donate button at the top left corner of the page - the money will go towards my Teacher Training Course, which is about $6,000. Thank you so much to those of you who believed in me and/or donated to my summer internship with YES - the experience truly had a huge impact in helping me decide and finalize my purpose as a teacher.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
About two years ago, I decided I wanted to study to be a teacher because I want to make a difference in kids' lives, especially the lives of individuals with disabilities. I want to make kids realize that they are capable of anything; that they have all the potential in the world to do whatever they want to achieve. Some kids need just a little push to realize this; others need quite the shove.
An opportunity has been offered to me through the Art of Living Foundation and its sister organization, the International Association for Human Values. I can go train for two weeks to be an instructor for a program called YES! for Schools. YES! stands for Youth Empowerment Seminar. The course teaches high school kids breathing techniques to calm their minds, control their stress, and empower their potential to change the world. I wish I had learned these techniques in high school; my life would've been so much more productive -- and I already had a pretty productive high school career! Teaching kids these techniques is important to me because they learn how to be the best they can be. I've heard stories from instructors that have gone into inner-city Chicago schools, taught this course, and have seen the complete turn-around and change in kids. My YES+ instructor always likes to tell a story about a 15-year-old drug dealer and gang recruiter who went through one of the YES! courses she taught and who is now devoted to serving his community. It's not enough for me to tell you all this; please go and see for yourself: there's a video on this website that is a testimony to the YES! course from several different schools. Here's the website: http://yes4schools.wordpress.com/
Here's the catch. In order for me to be on my way to teach this course, I need to attend a two-week training-intensive session in the San Francisco Bay area over the summer. Unfortunately, everything these days, including volunteering, costs money. I'm coming to you to ask you to help my achieve my dream. I think this is truly something that is not only an investment in my future, but in the futures of others. I'm going to make a positive impact on the world by empowering others to do the same.
Please donate to my cause. The donation button at the top left corner of this site will allow you to donate online. It doesn't matter if it's $1, $3, $5, or $20 -- every single bit brings me closer to achieving my dream.
More information on the YES! for Schools program can be found at: http://www.youthempowermentseminar.org/YES/YESHome.html
Here's some information about the YES! program from http://yes4schools.wordpress.com/___________________________________________________________________
Public schools in this country are failing our young people. School’s emphasis on standardized testing tells students that it’s more interested in the student remembering facts, than learning things relevant to their lives. The focus is on academic learning only, ignoring the development of the WHOLE person. We demand that students PAY ATTENTION without actually teaching them HOW TO PAY ATTENTION. Student’s minds and emotions all over the place YET we wonder why 50% are dropping out of high schools in major cities.
Schools don’t address the issues that teens are facing outside of school, such as domestic abuse, gang violence, and substance abuse. Schools address these deeper issues that are in the forefront of the minds of their students. How can young people learn academically when they’re afraid to walk home because they might be killed on the way; or their parents beat them when they get home; or they’re pressured constantly to drink and take drugs?
When we give the youth the opportunity to define a clear direction for their own lives, then we are giving true guidance. This is what the Youth Empowerment Seminar does. YES! allows for students to realize that I create my own reality. I choose the direction of my own life. In YES! students learn,”I cannot change all the circumstances of my life, BUT I can change the way I deal with them.”
YES! is a dynamic program that teaches practical and powerful techniques to deal with stress and manage emotions in a unique and FUN way. YES! provides a variety of breathing techniques, yoga, games, opportunities to connect with people on a deeper level, and interactive processes which bring a deeper understanding of basic human values, emotions, and the mind. STRESS is replaced with EMPOWERMENT, ENTHUSIASM, and a sense of belongingness to the people in my own community and the world.
Here is an opportunity for YOU to be a part of making a positive impact in the lives of high school students; to be a role model for a young person who has little positive influence in their life; to make a difference in your own life by helping young people realize their potential; to uplift society by uplifting its future.
THIS SUMMER IAHV (International Association for Human Values) is offering a 2 week training, as well as 2- 5 week fieldwork, to become an intern for the YES! program in high schools. First you learn techniques to focus, become more efficient, and reduce stress overall for your own life. THEN we learn how to teach YES! to high school students. You will assist certified YES! teachers in summer programs taking place in various cities across the U.S. A.
Teaching YES! is an opportunity to color the outlook on life, and provide choices for the young people of America.
Intensive Leadership Training:
- YES+ program
- Learn Meditation technique and daily practice of yoga, breathing and meditation
- Learn to teach YES! for high schools
Fieldwork options will be assigned for various cities:
- Assisting Certified YES! Instructor for High School programs and camps
Training: June 20 – July 4 2010
Fieldwork: July 4th thru Aug 10th 2010 2-5 week options
Training: San Francisco Bay Area, California
Fieldwork: SF Bay Area, CA; New York, NY; Chicago, IL
A desire to make a difference for the youth of America.
$1200 for the program including food and lodging, TRANSPORTATION not included. You will pay the cost of travel to and from training location and fieldwork venues.
For more information on the YES! Program visit
(The above text is from http://yes4schools.wordpress.com/)
***SEE ALSO: http://www.dosomething.org/project/yes-schools
Check out this news piece on YES! for Schools: