July 2018

RSCT Foundation Studies Intensive in Hanoi, Vietnam, July 2018

While the Summer Festival unfolds here at the RSCT in Thornhill, half way around the world, another team of RSCT faculty are busy leading an four-week Foundation Studies intensive in Hanoi Vietnam from July 9th to August 3rd. Presenter Grant Davis took time out of his busy schedule there to send us this brief report and these photos:

Putting together the first-ever RSCT Foundation Studies in Hanoi, Vietnam, we have from Canada the teachers Reg Down and Grant Davis and the translators Trinh Huynh and Lan Nguyen. We also have a new volunteer teacher, Miki Higashine, who is delivering unplanned and greatly appreciated lectures on Waldorf teaching. Next week Reg and Miki will leave Vietnam and Jonathan Snow and Regine Kurek will arrive. 

We are based in northern Vietnam, in the capital city of Hanoi. The classes take place in a spacious music school, generously arranged by the school owner who is one of the class participants. 

The students are all adults, mostly in their 20s and 30s. Most are women with a smaller proportion of men. Many are Waldorf teachers or parents of Waldorf children. Two older participants are parents of the translator. 

The students are hard working note takers and enthusiastic questioners during the lecture sessions. They have been very joyous and engaged eurythmy students as well. I have never worked with such dedicated students of the planetary seals!

I have added a section on ‘Buddha to Christ’ to relate to this predominantly Buddhist country and a section on Curative Education by request from the many Waldorf teachers in the audience.  Much of the rest of the course is pure Foundation studies and the students are taking it all in as well as any western group but in a very concentrated form - four weeks of back to back full days. 

The students come from all across the country. Some traveling as far as 1000 kilometers. Devoting a whole month to these studies, in some cases away from a young family, show the tremendous commitment that many of them bring to this course. 

The city in some ways is typical of a Southeast Asian city with a mix of traditional buildings and ‘western’ office towers and condos.  You may see an electronics store side by side with a hundreds of years old temple. 

The traffic appears chaotic to western eyes with hundreds of electric scooters vying for space among SUVs and mass transit buses.  A scooter on which I am a passenger may pass an SUV on the right side in order to turn left - straight across the front of the car! Rather like the entrance to a beehive it all seems to work with no conflict. 

Having visited many Asian countries and tasted a wide variety of dishes I must say that Vietnam food is among the most interesting and varied. The restaurants largely specialize in a single type of dish and reflect that in their name e.g. Banh Mi 25 sells excellent banh mi sandwiches and is found at number 25 Hang Ca street. 

In answer to the question of how there came to be an RSCT Foundation Studies program taking place in Hanoi, Grant Davis sent this:

A year ago, my wife and I returned from a vacation to several Southeast Asian countries. Back in Toronto, I happened to meet Trinh in the street ‘by accident’. I commented on how much my wife and I enjoyed our stay in Vietnam. Another casual meeting or two between Trinh and I led to the question as to whether I might be willing to help the fledgling Waldorf and Anthroposophical community there. Eventually Trinh asked directly if I would be willing to present the Foundation Studies course in Vietnam. 

I said yes and quickly Trinh and local Vietnamese organizers put together a venue and a substantial roster of interested participants. Working with the RSCT to ensure that the curriculum was of a sufficient standard to allow certificates of completion to be issued, we were soon in a position to present a complete plan and the registrations quickly followed. 

Thanks to Grant Davis for the photos and the story.

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