Thursday, August 7, 2008

"We may think we are doing the 'teaching' but the neighborhood is actually teaching us."

It is a delight to share this story about a children’s class in San Jose, CA (A), which is taken from the July 2008 issue of “Learning in Action”, a newsletter published by the Regional Bahá’í Council of the Southwestern states. The openness, dedication, respect, humility and sincerity of the friends who are conducting classes for children and adults are truly inspiring. Carefully observed by community members, the friends’ genuine efforts have now built bonds of unity, trust and sharing.

On the first day, some of the Bahá’ís met a friendly family who requested repeated visits and were interested in hearing Anna’s presentation and studying the deepening themes from Ruhi Book 2. . . .

Soon after, this family’s front lawn became the center of activities for the neighborhood. A children’s class in front of their apartment door soon attracted large numbers of not just children, but people of all ages who welcomed this service. At present, 25 children attend the class weekly. The building manage says he can see improvement in the children’s behavior.

After closely observing the children’s class for several weeks, many residents started to appreciate its value. Adults became increasingly open. Youth became helpers. The diversity of the Bahá’í teachers was admired and their services were accepted because everything was out in the open and it was clear there was no hidden agenda.

More and more of the women in the neighborhood kept watching the children’s class, and it was discovered that they were interested in learning English. So the teachers offered to teach them English through prayers. The adult class is set up as a devotional meeting, also held in the open, and like the children’s class more and more people are showing interest in it. The women are thrilled to be learning what their children are learning. Comfort levels are rising and they are proud to be sharing Spanish-speaking tips to those Bahá’ís that are less than fluent in that language.

One of the Bahá’ís who teaches the classes says, “We may think we are doing the ‘teaching’ but the neighborhood is actually teaching us.”

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