Although the online format has certainly changed the way of interacting and activity among students, the RYI Student Society has still remained active, organizing events and get-togethers virtually for all students, as well as physical events for those in Boudha. Here is a quick recap of what has happened in 2021.
In 2019, there was an aspiration by the students to start a tree planting project in Kathmandu, and a small amount of money was raised for this cause. However, with restrictions and uncertainty due to the global pandemic, these plans had to be moved. In 2021, the plans were brought back to life. Along with community members of Boudha and the monks from Shechen monastery, RYI students planted trees inside Shechen monastery. This was part of the Bhumisparsha (2021) project by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche. This project aims to plant 84,000 trees all over the world. The plan is to plant hundreds of trees in and around Kathmandu Valley.
As a way for students to rewind and relax in the middle of a hectic semester, the Student Society held a movie screening of the documentary film, Summer Pasture. This film follows a man and his wife from Kham, Tibet, as increasing pressure from the outside world threatens their daily life. This was some welcomed down-time from the business of study. While most days were spent studying in front of the computer screen, the Yoga group offered some relief in the form of weekly meetings for students to get some physical activity. Meetings were held via Zoom and led by yoga teacher Xinzhen McMinn.
Rachel See held a workshop focusing on narration and the transformative power of storytelling. This workshop explored both personal and collective narratives. Participants shared stories in a group setting and discussed concepts like “home” and “safety”.
Normally students would mingle naturally on campus, but since it wasn’t a possibility since moving online, the Student Society held several Mingle events for students to socialize outside of the classroom setting. The Mingle events were organized approximately every two weeks, and they were mainly quite casual meetings where anyone could join, offering a chance to see old friends and make new ones.
Although Nepal faced several lockdowns and strict restrictions, Utpala Cafe continued to provide free meals during the lockdown, and later meals at reduced prices for students. For students stuck in Nepal, Utpala Cafe became a safe haven for studying outdoors, having healthy meals, and seeing familiar faces. Utpala also provided a space for other projects, such as blood donation and clothes donations, as well as farmers’ markets. One highlight was also the visit of Mingyur Rinpoche, Phakchok Rinpoche, and Tsoknyi Rinpoche. Many thanks to Utpala!
A series of lectures focusing on Buddhist Art were held as a conjunct to the Buddhist Art course. Professor Diane Denis invited various artists and scholars to talk about different topics. These lectures were made available to the public for free. To see some of the lecture material and view student artwork from this course, please visit https://buddhistartexhibit.wordpress.com/ While not being on-campus has limited normal interaction among students the Student Society has made great efforts to bring students together and to connect with one another. Many thanks to the Student Society for their initiative, for organizing these events and making this connection possible.