Greetings from John Calogero, Program Director
Hello Brian, Perrin, Rebecca, Travis, Helena, and Pamela,
As the new guy to your group I will introduce myself first, but I look forward to hearing from each of you in the next few weeks. I am excited to learn what your hopes are for our learning adventure.
One thing I really enjoy is seeing how others perceive the world. I enjoy experiencing other cultures, and I particularly enjoy experiencing them with other people. Some of the most memorable experiences I have had occurred when I took the time to listen. In the last few years I have listened to the early morning drumming during Ramadan to wake people up to eat followed by the call to prayer, before the sun rises and the fast begins. I have listened to stories of tragedy and survival following the Indian Ocean tsunami. I have listened to a monk who changed his schedule to explain the principles of Tibetan Buddhism to me before I left Dharamsala.
As much as I seek new and different perceptions I am frequently and pleasantly surprised by the similarities among people. I’m originally from New York, and although my family moved around a bit after I was born, for the most part I grew up in Connecticut.
Now, my wife and I live in a house we built on an island in the Pacific Northwest almost as big as Staten Island but with fewer than 7000 people. We made the deliberate choice to use solar panels to generate electricity and a woodstove for heat. Although we discussed living without electricity, we like to watch TV and movies too much for that. And, of course, there is the computer.
During the years we built our house it seemed natural to me to work for Outward Bound as part of that experience is learning to live simply. The challenges of living and working together on an Outward Bound course brought me to the field of peacebuilding and studies at the School for International Training. My master’s studies took me to Sri Lanka where my most recent work there was to help reduce violence in the war ravaged East of the country.
I had told the monk in Dharamsala I was going to do peace work in Sri Lanka. He said he had to explain Buddhism to me before I went. Once he did, I understood why. I am glad I listened.
There will be challenges for each of us during our adventure. I look forward to us all meeting those challenges, with compassion. This is an amazing opportunity for all of us, and I feel fortunate to travel with you, while learning with you and from you.
Be in touch,