Newsletter‎ > ‎February 2016‎ > ‎

East Meets West

posted Feb 4, 2016, 12:43 PM by Kristin Snell   [ updated Feb 4, 2016, 12:48 PM ]

by Diana Pasquini, San Juan Ridge Family Resource Center

On a cool, cloudy January morning a smiling delegation of five Tibetan Buddhist monks from India’s Gaden Shartse Monastery were greeted to the Oak Tree Campus by Grizzly Hill student ambassadors, Timo Berardi and Ireland Brown. After refreshing themselves with a quick visit to the games room and a warm cup of tea, the monks filed into the Oak Tree Lodge and greeted a group of Grizzly Hill and Ananda Living Wisdom School students, teachers, parents, siblings, neighbors, and friends. After a brief introduction, and a period of chanting, Geshe (Tibetan Buddhist equivalent of a PHD) Phuntso spoke with an emphasis on delivering some words of wisdom to the students. He urged them to conserve natural resources, study hard, do well in school, respect their teachers, treat their parents with kindness and consideration, and work hard to make their parents proud. The group then had the opportunity to ask questions, ranging from, “Why do you shave your heads? And “What do you eat?” to “How old are your chants” and “What is the highest number of incarnations of someone you know?”

After the presentation everyone was invited to stay for lunch. The preschool and art rooms were transformed into gracious dining areas that accommodated all who wished to share a lunch of hearty soup, rice, bread & butter, mandarins, and cookies. Led by their teacher, Cheri Smith, Grizzly Hill School’s youngest students sweetly serenaded our visitors with Mister Rodgers’, It’s You I Like. More questions were answered, photos were taken, warm smiles and embraces were exchanged. Then, just as it began to rain, it was time to load up the school buses and bid our friends a fond farewell.

Now that the dishes are washed, the tables are stacked, and we have resumed “business as usual” we fondly remember our friends from afar and the message of simple human kindness that they bore. We are grateful to Joseph Guida of Sierra Friends of Tibet, Grizzly Hill School, Ananda Living Wisdom School, Anjelica Duarte, William Kimball, Pascale Berardi, the Safeway Foundation, Tal Benrud, Nish Tully, and all our friends and neighbors for helping to make such a special day possible.


“The monks told us they usually meditate for six hours a day, and for sixteen hours straight once a month. Meditation can calm you. I was impressed that they could speak English so well. I want them to come again.”

Bryana Walker

4th Grade Student~Grizzly Hill School



“I thought it was great! I loved the story the Geshe told about the child earning his own money because it teaches children responsibility and that when you earn something you enjoy it more than when it is just being handed to you. River, my three year old daughter, enjoyed talking with the monks at lunch. She was really excited when she got home.”

                                                                   Krista Marchetti

                                                                                            Mother of Three



“I thought it was very interesting how they chanted for 45 minutes and how they used bells and drums and put on yellow hats. I think it’s important for them to travel and show other communities what they showed us.”

Myra Walker

8th Grade Student~Grizzly Hill School


 “It was fun listening to the monks chant. What was interesting was that monks can be any age. The youngest is 2 ½ and the oldest is 103. That’s a pretty old man. The youngest monks wake up before 6:00. Every day they have to memorize 72 words. The Geshe said that there is a difference between being reborn and being reincarnated. Reincarnation is when you choose to come back. Rebirth is when you have no choice. The Dalai Lama has been reincarnated 14 times. It would be fun to see them come back here. Every time the monks they seem to bring the rain.”

                                                                             Marshall Varner

                                              8th Grade Student~Grizzly Hill School


“The monks hold themselves with such grace and a sense of beauty and peace. I think that, without a spoken word, they are able to communicate that beauty and state of being. The thing that impressed me the most was the blessing of the food. They were so appreciative when the kindergartners sang to them. I could tell that the children and the monks were really happy. It was touching and beautiful to see.”

Anjelica Duarte



“My sons, aged 2 and 3, and I ate lunch with the monks. The soup was really good. My son dropped his orange. Then the monk picked it up for him. They were laughing and smiling at each other and enjoying the oranges together. At the end of lunch each monk took the time to thank everyone and say goodbye. I’d love to see them again.”

                                                                    Amber Nusser


“It’s such a reminder to the community of how much we value community traditions, and that in the bigger scheme of things we have relationships and sharing of spirit around the world with those who value peace and kindness. Having the Tibetan monks visit is such a gift to our children.”

Jenny Travers

Educator & Community Member




“I enjoyed seeing the way the Geshe communicated with the students and gave them special insights into their situation as young people. The monks’ good will was very uplifting.”

                                                                         Marc Ryan

                                                                    Music Teacher