It was an honor for School of the Nations to host an International Seminar for Bahá'í-inspired, educational projects and institutions organized by the Office of Social and Economic Development at the Bahá'í World Centre (OSED). Mr. Pejman Samoor and Ms. Elisa Caney, Members of the Advisory Board of OSED, conducted the two Seminars in Brasilia. The first took place from October 20 through 22 at School of the Nations and was a forum for Bahá'í schools, universities and educational projects in the region. Twenty-nine participants from Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Costa Rica took part. The second three-day Seminar took place off campus from October 23 through 25 and focused on the study of principles of social action through the guidance of a document on this topic prepared by OSED in 2012.
During the three-day Seminar at School, participants exchanged presentations on the nature and objectives of their respective projects and reflected on the history and purpose of Bahá'í educational projects, the components of institutional capacity building, and the development of Junior Youth Programs in various countries.
Participants included representatives of Bahá'í Institutions, among them: two OSED Board Members, representatives of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Brazil (Assembléia Nacional Espiritual dos Bahá'ís do Brasil) the International Desk of the Junior Youth Program (Escritório Internacional do Programa de Pré-Jovens), and the Centers of Learning for Canoas and Brasilia (Centro de Aprendizagem Canoas/RS e Brasilia).
The following educational institutions and projects (with number of participants in parenthesis) took part:
Nur University – Universidad Nur in Santa Cruz, Bolivia (3)
Universidad Tecnológica Privada de Santa Cruz de la Sierra (UTEPSA) (1)
Affinity Arts School of Brasilia (3)
The Association of Cohesive Development of the Amazon (ADCAM) (5)
Projeto Monte Carmelo in São Paulo
Escola Olavo Novais located in Salvaterra, Marajó-Pará, Brazil (1)
School of the Nations (8)
We studied the importance of teachers as moral examples and guides to youth in their integral development.
"The teacher is a beacon of morality in society, a promoter of moral values, and a vitalizer of the spiritual life of the community. Distinguished by his or her high standard of conduct, the teacher assists children in laying the foundations of a noble and upright character, and nurtures their moral faculties...."
"The teacher is a promoter of the well-being of the community in all its physical, social, and spiritual dimensions."
We also shared experiences and stories of our joys, triumphs and struggles in overcoming adversity in the path of developing social/economic projects for the advancement of education. Every project and participant has been tested in multiple ways, as there are no easy answers or actions on the path of promoting social justice and implementing successful educational projects.
Among our reflections, we consulted on the importance of approaching development and change through a mode of learning in action. We also explored the challenge and the need of working with coherence. Our actions must reflect our principles and vision. Our efforts must be coordinated and integrated to create organic conditions of evolution, as expressed in two brief quotes on these themes:
Mode of Learning in Action and Achieving Moral Coherence
"The mode of operation adopted in the area of social and economic development, in common with other areas of Bahá'í activity, is one of learning in action. When efforts are carried out in a learning mode—characterized by constant action, reflection, consultation, and study—visions and strategies are re-examined time and again." OSED 2012
"Achieving progressively higher degrees of coherence both within and among the broad interconnected fields of endeavour in which the Bahá'í community is engaged is clearly a vital concern. It suggests that areas of activity are to be complementary, integrated, and mutually supportive. Further, it implies the existence of a common, overarching framework that gives shape to activities and which evolves and becomes more elaborate as experience accumulates." OSED 2012
We will be happy to share with our wider community information and insights gained from the seminars. One great benefit was strengthening ties with like-minded institutions and projects, forming a collaborative network.
The participants complimented our friendly staff and campus. They felt warmly welcomed!