Joyous Celebration with Adele Diamond,
4 Special Days in Vancouver, BC
This was the most amazing and generous and important gathering I have ever attended. Because of her declining health Adele Diamond invited 500 friends and colleagues from 41 countries, to join her for several days of sharing and making connections. 90 of the group gave 15-30 minute presentations over the four days. We all paid our own transportation and hotel and Adele fed us all for the entire event! Here is the description of the gathering in her words:
A cross-cultural gathering that spans the Arts, Humanities, Sciences, and Humanitarian and Social Justice Initiatives. Designed to build community that crosses continents, cultures, and fields, bringing people from quite different backgrounds together to learn about and from one another . . . to form new friendships and understandings, to push people to think in new ways, see the need for different perspectives, and birth new insights. With the goal of trying to help make the world a better place where children (indeed all people everywhere) can thrive.
To see the schedule of all four days: CLICK: schedule
The Event began with a First Nations Blessing, a mindfulness moment, and a welcome by Adele. Then Lynne Lawrence, General Director of AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) gave an amazing description of the work of AMI and ESF (Educateurs sans Frontières). She introduced several projects and focused on the Samburu project in Africa. CLICK: Samburu
I have been in touch with Maung Nyea from Bangladesh (Founder and Director of “Our Golden Hour”, extending education opportunities for marginalized and underserved kids) for some time so it was good for us to meet, especially sharing in smaller gathering of about 20 of us who have experience working in “third world” countries. I will add his website as it develops.
Ashli Akins (Cultural Ecologist & Founder of Mosqoy, a non-profit working with the Quechua of the Peruvian Andes) hiked in the Peruvian mountains at age 20 and then . . . began a project to help the weavers of the mountains value their work. CLICK: Peru
In many of my talks I have used these two pictures as examples of imitation, mirror neurons, and how children learn. Andrew Meltzoff was the originator of this work and I was very glad to get to tell him how his pictures have meant so much to so many.
The first speaker on day two was Gabor Maté (Author of best-sellers, e.g., When the Body Says No and The Myth of Normal). And another was Thuptem Jimpa, long time translator for the Dalai Lama and board member of the Mind and Life Organization (more on this below). I was able to thank Gabor for his books, so valuable in our Montessori work, and to talk to Jinpa about my work with the Montessori teachers in Dharamsala, India, and his organization the Compassion Institute. CLICK: compassion
It was very special for us Montessorians to be gathered, to be included in this very broad experience of working together with so many others to help the world. Above is a picture of Lynne and me, Every 10 years or so we celebrate our friendship by wearing our Tibetan necklaces and having a picture taken. Below is a picture of most of the Montessori participants. We gathered from the Czech Republic, Amsterdam, UK, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, Puerto Rico, India, Switzerland Canada, USA, and maybe more . . .
I will just share two more presenters. James Heckman, Nobel Prize Laureate ranked the second most influential economist in the world today. His research shows that high-quality birth-to-age 5 programs for disadvantaged children can “deliver a whopping 13% per year return on investment.”
And Loise Nashepai, who left her native Kenya, risking everything, to work to help the girls and women in her country in many ways. To learn more of her project CLICK: Kenya
I fully intended to share a lot more in this blog post but I am overwhelmed as I returned to the online videos of the presenters, the wealth and depth of each of the 90. So I have shared just 9 of the presenters. Here is information on the whole group. CLICK: speakers
I want to say just a bit of how I know Adele, self-proclaimed “Montessori Groupie). We first met at an AGM (Annual Global Meeting) of AMI in Amsterdam. Later we spent two weeks together at an AMI ESF meeting in Thailand, and a week together in Sikkim, where a smaller version of the Mind and Life Meetings mentioned above was held by the government to solve the problems of education of the youth. You can read more about that event here. CLICK: Sikkim
Adele arranged to have books of many of the presenters available for all of her colleagues and I felt so honored that she selected three of mine, Beginnings, Montessori and Mindfulness, and Montessori Cosmic Education, and she announced my books to the entire gathering and made me stand up – yikes.
During the whole event I did not sit down at a table once to eat a meal! There were many breaks between talks where we could gather with the presenters to ask questions, or meet with each other over food, standing at tall tables, introducing ourselves and getting to know as many as possible. But this went from morning till late in the evening each day!
NEW BOOK! Finally, on the last day after we all helped clean up, I sat down in the hotel restaurant to have a meal with friends. Here are the people who gathered. One of the projects that was born during this event was a joint book between Anne Kelly (lower right in the photo) who is the head of the Dementia and Aging training at AMI, and me. Our book, entitled “Glimpses of Elder Care through a Montessori Lens” is now available on Amazon in many countries.
You can scan the QR code above for all “First Montessori Books”. Or CLICK: books
Who knows how many other projects were birthed during these days. Since that time, people in all walks of life from many countries who did not attend have been able to share the inspiration by purchasing the videos of all of the talks and even the music performances that graced the end of each day. Here is the link if you would like to do this.