The Shree Mangal Dvip school or SMD Boarding School, founded by Thrangu Rinpoche, and run by Shirley Blair for 30 years has provided UWC ISAK with five of the seven Nepali students who have attended or are attending our school now, and are sending one more student for the 2018-2019 school year. Thus far, all the SMD students have been prime UWC ISAK students, especially when it comes to our mission and vision.
During our first Project Nepal visit to Kathmandu, the students from SMD, along with Himanshu Bhurtel and the Bhurtel family, helped all the first timers to Nepal find their way and expedite all aspects of the trip, allowing for the project members to spend their precious little time focused on the work of the project rather than the many hours required to arrange the day to day logistics of operating in Nepal.
For our 2018 Nepal excursion, we have had the benefit of graduated students, current project members, and SMD students to help the group along. The SMD school has finally completed repairs from the 2015 earthquake and is again using the large main building for classes, canteen, library, offices, and performance space. But one thing that was never splintered, broken, damaged was the loving spirit of the students and faculty of SMD.
On my first visit to the school in its damaged state with temporary classrooms made of tin, which roasted in the sun and struggled to hold back the monsoon, I was awe struck with the loving sense of family, which pervaded every aspect of the community. As our initial visit was at the end of the second year of ISAK, our focus in Japan was to create a family feel up on ISAK Hill, and have our own strong sense of community and I hope we emulate this as strongly as SMD.
Understanding how essential a strong head of school is in creating a school culture, you can see in every moment how Shirley is a driving force behind the love pervasive at SMD. Whether she is asking the little ones if they are brushing their teeth after leading them through a meditation session, or dedicating time to seriously listen to a returning graduate tell of their experiences at UWC Nordic, you can see Shirley giving all of her heart to this community.
UWC ISAK Japan has a debt of gratitude owed to Shirley Blair for giving us a handful of her wards to help promulgate the spirit of UWC ISAK Japan. These students continue to be leading lights for our campus from Lhamo initiating Meatless Monday in order to demonstrate her commitment to the preservation of all life, Pema furthering the drama program without a drama teacher and now becoming a regular fixture as emcee of school events, or Dolma meeting everyone everywhere with a smile and her two handed wave as well as serving as the unofficial school babysitter for the kids of the faculty. These SMD Nepalese students are truly important to our community.
With all the support mentioned above, I would encourage members of the UWC ISAK community, from our students to our founders, to consider supporting the SMD Boarding school in any way they can as a way to say thank you for sharing their loving sense of what makes a community with ours at a time when we were formulating our own school culture.