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Sharing Peace and Service With Our Seattle Partners

Dr. Michele Murray Associate Vice-President of Student Development at Seattle University with Haru Inouye

During an unusually sunny weekend in Seattle, Washington, several Shinnyo-en Foundation staff members, Shinnyo Fellows and interns visited the Shinnyo-en Temple in Burien, Washington as well as the Seattle University campus to report on recent peace and service efforts by the Shinnyo-en Foundation and build relationships with long-term partners in the area.

At Shinnyo-en USA, Seattle temple, the Shinnyo-en Foundation cohort consisted of Gordon Greaves (Seattle University, Seattle, WA) and Sara Mizner (UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA), both 2009-2010 Shinnyo Fellows, as well as Aki Kishihara (International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan), 2010 intern, presented on the recent Shinnyo-en Foundation sponsored “Peace Through Service” trip to Japan in July 2010. This trip exposed select Shinnyo Fellows, Blake School (Minneapolis, MN) students and teachers to many meaningful cultural and spiritual experiences in Japan, including visiting Ogen-in, Daigo-ji, and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Dome among others. The trip also provided time and space to contemplate the myriad ways in which peace and service connect.

In her account of the “Peace Through Service Trip,” Sara described the excitement of being immersed in Japanese culture and Japan for the first time. As a recent graduate of UC Berkeley and a new intern at the Shinnyo-en Foundation, Sara discussed the ways in which her experience in Japan created a shift in her consciousness about her approach to peace. In particular, Sara expressed the joy of discovering the intentional spaces in the gardens at Ryukyo-in in Kyoto as a metaphor for making more conscious alignment within herself and with others to create peace for herself and others.

As one of the leaders of the trip, Aki described the importance of the dynamic opportunity to learn about Japanese culture through the eyes of her fellow travelers from the U.S. Even though she is a native of Japan, she appreciated this opportunity to take time to get to know the many different facets of Japan. She described the differences between the mood of participants in boisterous Tokyo compared to the calmness of Kyoto and the solemn but hopeful experience in Hiroshima. Aki connected the experience of translating her culture with her intention of serving her fellow travelers and articulating her path to peace through her work.

Gordon expressed his sincere gratitude to the Shinnyo-en Followers for supporting the Foundation sponsored trip to Japan. He described the profound experience of witnessing Buddhist monks at Daigoji in Kyoto chanting and praying. As he watched the monks, Gordon felt for the first time that his great-grandfather was with him in spirit since he passed away several years ago. As an individual who pursues peace through service, Gordon arrived in Japan with an ambivalent feeling about his great-grandfather who came to Japan as a solder during the World War II. Gordon attributed this intense and spiritual experience at Daigo-ji to a more peaceful acceptance and appreciation of his great-grandfather.

Then, the Shinnyo-en Foundation cohort had the opportunity to meet with Director of the Center for Service and Community Engagement, Kent Koth, as well as Associate Vice-President for Student Development, Dr. Michele Murray on Monday, August 23, 2010.

Gordon Greaves 2009-2010 Shinnyo Fellow, John Conway, Alison Pollack and Rebecca Recinos all 2010 ShinnFellows reflect on their experiences at the Summer Institute and the Retreat

The Center for Service and Community Engagement has been a long-time partner with the Shinnyo-en Foundation and receives annual support for several age-appropriate fellowship opportunities for college students throughout the year. Most recently, the University included the year-long fellowship on campus during the 2009-2010 academic year of which Gordon Greaves was a part.

Dr. Murray expressed her gratitude for the Shinnyo-en Foundation’s generous support on her campus. As recent co-author of “Helping College Students Find Their Purpose,” with Richard Nash at the University of Vermont, Dr. Murray described the importance of providing opportunities for students to learn about themselves and their life’s purpose in a supportive and reflective academic context. Dr. Murray and Shinnyo-en Foundation CEO, Haru Inouye, found alignment with their ideals for student development and growth in creating peace for students, the Seattle University community and the world.

During the visit to the Seattle University campus, the Shinnyo-en Foundation cohort received a campus tour from Kelly Benkert, Program Coordinator for the Shinnyo Fellowship at the Center for Service and Community Engagement at Seattle University. Despite tremendous campus construction and subsequent maze of orange cones, the Shinnyo-en Foundation staff was able to spend time learning about the Jesuit Catholic tradition as well as the various gardens, most of them edible or native to Washington, on the campus.

Dr. Murray, Kent Koth Director of the Center for Service and Community Engagement at Seattle University and Haru Innouye and Ineko

The visit to Seattle concluded with a lively group lunch including the Shinnyo-en Foundation cohort, Kelly Benkert, and several past and current Shinnyo Fellows at Seattle University. CEO Inouye asked the fellows to reflect on their experiences at the Summer Institute and the Annual Retreat during the previous week in San Francisco and Marshall, CA respectively. The students shared the highlights of their time in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as suggestions for improvement for next year. With the countdown to the start of the academic year, many of the fellows expressed their excitement for school to start and for some, the inception of their work as Shinnyo Fellows.