If a guy somewhere in Asia makes a blog and no one reads it, does it really exist?

Thursday, November 18

Buddhist schools

Have you heard of the Hongwanji Mission School? It's the only Buddhist K-8 school in America. They've recently opened a high school called the Pacific Buddhist Academy.

The curriculum of the schools is built on "peace studies," whatever that is. Sounds kind of like the UN University for Peace in Costa Rica.

What kind of hippie schools are these? What can you do with a university degree in "Gender and Peace Building?" (Answer: join EPIK.) It sounds too much like a magnet for misguided idealism, but I suppose you could say the same for a lot of schools that peddle dreams to idealistic youth. (Take APU for example.)

I actually do like the idea of a Buddhist school, if for no other reason than to offset the high number of Christian schools in the US. I also like that you don't have to be a Buddhist to attend the schools. But I can't help but be skeptical of peace studies. It sounds nice and warm and fuzzy, but what is it? Nothing I've read so far has clarified it for me. I guess it's the direct opposite of what you learn at a military academy.

Self-Immolation 101?

I get the impression that one of the main goals of the schools is to educate kids of Japanese descent in the Japanese language and to familiarize them with Japanese culture. A noble cause. As far as I can tell, there are hardly any such schools in the US that are geared toward Korean Americans. Why? After all, Japanese language immersion programs are a dime a dozen. Are Koreans more eager to become integrated into white America? Or perhaps Koreans tend to live in areas with such a high Korean population that special schools aren't necessary to preserve their culture? (Just take a walk to Koreatown.) Or, since many Koreans tend to be Christian, perhaps the bonds formed through the church are enough to maintain a strong sense of community.

I think the last one is probably right. While Koreans have both their "Koreanness" and their religion to provide a bond after they leave their homeland, most Japanese have little more than their "Japaneseness" to hold them together. (Uh, so what Shinto god do you worship?)

Anyway, I'm intrigued. I think America needs more Buddhist schools--one in Salt Lake City, one in every Bible Belt State and one next to George Bush's church.

Jen the Newfie told me that every time she teaches at one of her rural schools, she has a post-lunch meditation session at a teacher's house. Ohmmmm.


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