Category Archives: International Connections

Collingtonians Join Tibetan Prayers for Worldwide Peace

mandala 3On Sunday morning I did something rather unusual.  I joined 2 other Collingtonians and went to the Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda.  I was motivated by the opportunity to participate in a spiritual experience that was offered by the Tibetan Buddhist Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery.  The Monastery was reestablished in South India by escapee monks after the Chinese invaded Tibet and killed or imprisoned others.

The monks, endorsed by the Dalai Lama, are touring the country to promote world peace and healing.  At Cedar Lane they laid down millions of vibrantly colored grains of sand to create a mandala sand painting. Formed of a traditional prescribed iconography that includes geometric shapes and a multitude of ancient spiritual symbols, the sand-painted mandala is used as a tool for re-consecrating the earth and its inhabitants.  The monks constructed the mandala between August 23rd and and August 26th.

mandala 2

The day included an incredibly moving ceremony that included blessings, chanting, a guided meditation, gleanings from ancient and contemporary wisdoms, and a dedication prayer.

 

Perhaps most moving for me was the deconstruction of the mandala. This was done as a metaphor of the impermanence of life. The sands were swept up and placed in an urn. To fulfill the function of healing, half was distributed to the congregation while the remainder was carried to Rock Creek where it was deposited. The waters then carried the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there it spreads throughout the world for planetary healing.  I can say that this was a once in a lifetime experience for me and that it was both mystical and transforming.  The grains of sand I received will always be a reminder of the preciousness of each moment of this fleeting life of mine.

Mandala 4

If you would like more information or would like to see their schedule you can visit their website at https://www.mysticalartsoftibet.org

 

New York Times Article on Ageing and Creativity

Nice NYT article on Ageing and Creativity.

It starts with research that shows how young minds are much more imaginative, but older folks are more traditional and limited when asked to explain things.

Buit, how about this:

But there was a different pattern when it came to the social problems. Once again the preschoolers were more likely to give the creative explanation than were the 6-year-olds or adults. Now, however, the teenagers were the most creative group of all. They were more likely to choose the unusual explanation than were either the 6-year-olds or the adults.

At least an argument for multi-generational input!

The explanation offered might help us think our way into a new vision of ageing:

The answer: Childhood and adolescence may, at least in part, be designed to resolve the tension between exploration and exploitation. Those periods of our life give us time to explore before we have to face the stern and earnest realities of grown-up life. Teenagers may no longer care all that much about how the physical world works. But they care a lot about exploring all the ways that the social world can be organized. And that may help each new generation change the world.

I like to think that, at our best, we are often just like teenagers, precisely because we are no longer responsible for everything.  We can dream and imagine — but with the benefit of a lifetimes of learning, including our mistakes and unfulfilled dreams.  So, as we move our community into a broader outreach and learning mode, maybe we are more ready than we realize.  All we need is the practical support.

Any ideas for how to do the research to explore this?  In our strategic plan?

Our Sibling Community, Lathrop, Is a Pioneer in Assisting Refugees

One of Collington’s sibling communities in the Kendal Network has recently held up a beacon for the rest of us to follow.

Lathrop in Northampton, Massachusetts, has found a way to put our values into practice in assisting the resettlement and integration of refugees.  As described by Executor Director Thom Wright:

We feel blessed to be a small part of the conversation related to refugee resettlement. As I’m sure you can attest, Kendal communities strive to put our deeply held beliefs into action each day and to foster inclusivity and diversity as intentional expressions of these values. This often leads us to consider the ways in which we can actively transform the experience of aging in community, on both a local and a global level.
 
At a fundamental level, Lathrop provides housing services for diverse groups seeking a place of refuge in which to engage with like-minded, value-driven contemporaries. Our inclusive environment speaks to the notion that for some who come to live at Lathrop, we are a place of ready-acceptance. We consider ourselves to truly be a safe haven.
 
At any given time we invariably have some unoccupied units (although our townhomes are generally 100% occupied), along with other property we own but currently do not lease, which led us to consider how we could bless others in need of transitional housing, such as homeless families and refugees.
 
Last year, Catholic Charities began the conversation around resettling refugees within the local community. The city of Northampton agreed to work with Catholic Charities to resettle 51 refugee families in 2017! Several of our residents subsequently joined the Circle of Care, a local volunteer cohort willing to come alongside refugee families to assist with starting anew; ESL classes, transportation, furniture, etc. Several housing providers met with the group to discuss options within the city.
 
It was at this point that I suggested that Lathrop might be of assistance. We have residents who teach ESL, one who speaks fluent Arabic, many highly-active caregivers and we have housing. We held a campus workshop to learn more about the resettlement process and to discuss the ways in which Lathrop could be involved.  We initiated an evaluation of a home we own on an adjacent property and were not too far into our process when I received a call 2 weeks ago. A mother and her two adult sons had been cleared to arrive within days and none of the local housing options were viable due to the need for a handicapped accessible dwelling.
 
Unfortunately, none of our accessible apartments at the Inn were available but the next day, a resident who is co-chair of the city’s Circle of Care, asked if she and her husband could give up their townhome for two weeks and invite the refugee family to stay there, instead. A perfect solution!
 
I was able to offer this couple an Inn apartment and meals on our Easthampton campus and the refugee family arrived within days and settled into their “new community. ” They have been busy learning English and looking for permanent housing, with assistance from Catholic Charities and the Circle of Care. One son has even joined in with a group of residents that plays ping pong and billiards on Fridays. I am happy to say that the family will be staying for an additional two weeks but have since found suitable housing to begin the process of assimilating into Northampton.
 
I must share that this one small act of humanity has united our community in wonderful ways. It has reaffirmed for many that Lathrop/Kendal truly lives its values and is not isolated from global matters that matter most. We continue to dialogue around this and other areas in which Lathrop can have impact. In the coming weeks, once this lovely family has been resettled and begins to tell their story in more detail, Lathrop will also share it more broadly, with humility and gratitude to our residents who are truly the ones transforming the experience of aging for all who call Western Massachusetts, home.

What more is there to say?

Can we all try to find ways to “unite[] our [broader] community in wonderful ways?”  Maybe the opportunity to experience an act of helping as a helper might covert some in the outside world who now fear such integration.

Washington Post obituary of Warren Unna

Below is the Washington Post Obituary for Warren Unna:

Warren Unna, journalist and Post bureau chief in India, dies at 93

Warren Unna, a Washington Post correspondent in India who later became Washington correspondent for the Statesman, an English-language newspaper based in Kolkata, died Feb. 9 at a retirement community in Mitchellville, Md. He was 93.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said a friend, Marea Hatziolos Grant.

Mr. Unna covered national news after joining The Post in 1952. His aspirations were to cover South Asia, where he had served with the Army during World War II.

In lieu of a Post bureau there, Mr. Unna made a specialty of writing about Asian affairs from Washington by cultivating sources at embassies and international organizations.

Mr. Unna was bureau chief in New Delhi from 1965 to 1967, then returned to cover national affairs in Washington. He was one of many journalists whose names appeared on President Richard M. Nixon’s enemies list in the early 1970s, presumably for his reporting on the Vietnam War for The Post and for a short-lived public television program, “Newsroom.”

He joined the Statesman in the early 1970s and remained with that publication for approximately the next two decades. He also contributed to other publications.

Warren Walter Unna was born in San Francisco on Sept. 14, 1923. He graduated in 1943 from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in international relations. He worked at the San Francisco Chronicle before coming to The Post.

In the late 1950s, he traveled widely as an Institute of Current World Affairs fellow, for which he studied the Non-Aligned Movement countries during the Cold War.

He wrote a memoir, “Letters From America” (1994), and in retirement did consulting for the Westinghouse and McClatchy media companies. He was a member of the Metropolitan Club in Washington.

His marriage to Louise Thompson was annulled. Survivors include a stepsister.

(Copyright Washington Post 2017)

This website has commissioned a more detailed appreciation, which we look forward to publishing in the future.

In the interim, readers may find interesting this article from the Collingtonian of March 2012.

Unna Relates His Experiences in Asia

The March 21 guest speaker was no guest at all, but 12-year (almost) Collingtonian Warren Unna, who spoke of his experiences with celebrities from presidents to foreign heads of state while he was a newspaper reporter.

Warren graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and rst worked for the San Francisco Chronicle. The Institute of Current World Affairs gave him the opportunity to travel- study around the world for a year. He concentrated on how countries achieved neutrality.

He then obtained employment at the Wash- ington Post because, he said, the chronicle’s management didn’t want to pay the Newspaper Guild’s required salary for a senior reporter. For the Post, he primarily covered Asia. Warren rattled off a list of famous people whom he had met, beginning with then past-president Herbert Hoover who was chairing the Hoover Commis- sion for President Dwight Eisenhower. He found Hoover quite pleasant to deal with.

Not so Ike, who did not seem to like doing press conferences and kept the press at bay when he traveled. On the other hand, a John Kennedy press conference was “just a joy.” Lyn- don Johnson, who believed that “every man had his price,” was the best politician of the presi- dents, he thought. “He got his votes,” Warren said

Warren attributed his success in conducting interviews to being friendly and listening to the person being interviewed. It is also important to sit so as to make eye contact, he said. In Indonesia, he managed to obtain a difficult interview by learning that it was the local custom to not turn away any visitor who arrived in the late afternoon. In his travels about Asia, Warren recounted many experiences and listed the many prominent people he met: Indian Prime Minister Jawaharial Nehru who answered 17 questions for him, thereby generating two major stories with Warren’s byline; the King of Bhutan who sought advice on educating his son; an Indian health minister who walked briskly back and forth in a garden while he trailed her trying to take notes; President Lee Kuan Yew of the Republic of Singapore with whom he argued about the Viet Nam War; the daughter of a Japanese Prime Minister for whom a gift of stockings got him an interview and a nice meal in a restaurant; the wife of the president of South Korea who tried to nd eligible ladies for him to marry; Madame Chiang Kai-shek whom he watched squirm as her support from the “China Lobby” in America dried- up and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who rejected his questions.

Of particular interest to residents was his accompanying G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams, then assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, on a whirlwind tour of 16 countries in 31 days for President Kennedy. In Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia, he met and lunched with Collingtonians Bill and Nancy McGhee, who were then stationed there. He apologized to them (they were in the audience) for impertinently asking if they “always ate that well.”

(Copyright Collington Residents Association 2012)

Collington Director Marvell Adams reassures staff team that they are all “part of a large and close knit international family” and that “Collington stands firmly shoulder to shoulder with all of you”

Obviously, this is not as easy time for those of us who believe that all human beings are brothers and sisters, that diversity is a strength not a weakness, and that we are obliged to act in accordance with those beliefs.

It is important, and may become even more important as time goes by, that we feel part of a community that understands this, and can act appropriately based on it.

I am again proud of Collington, and hope that we can be a national model, as I here report the efforts made by our Director to support those who may need it.

Here is the full text of the letter sent by Marvell to the staff today.

January 30, 2017
 
Dear Member of the Collington Team,
 
Each and every one of you reading this is a part of a large and close knit international family here at Collington.  We represent numerous countries from all over the world and proudly celebrate that diversity throughout our community.
 
As you undoubtedly are aware, an executive order recently signed by President Trump placed a ban on immigration into the United States from certain countries.  This ban is currently being challenged within our judicial system.  Be that as it may, I feel it is important for you to know that Collington stands firmly shoulder to shoulder with all of you.  We welcome with open arms all individuals.
 
In writing this letter, I am reaffirming Collington’s commitment:
 
“To encourage and welcome all people without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, or any other characteristic protected by law, to live in our communities and to serve on our staffs and boards.”
–  Excerpt from our Values & Practices
 
As a reminder, you have access to our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which can help with a variety of personal concerns including legal matters.  You can utilize this service at no cost to you and confidentially by calling Carebridge Employee Assistance Program toll-free, 1-800-437-0911, for immediate consultation.  Brochures with more information can be picked up in Human Resources or by visiting http://www.myliferesource.com (website access code:  XEGKX).
 
Thank you for all you do in service to the Collington Family.
 
Sincerely,
 
Marvell Adams
Executive Director

Here is the cover note that Marvell sent to the Board of Directors with the above.  It includes some important background information.

Dear Collington Board Members,
 
Today I shared th[is] letter to all staff of Collington.  I am sharing with you as well for your information and knowledge of how we are supporting our staff.
 
For those that may not know, a significant portion of our staff are Muslim and/or immigrants and the recent executive order has many of them fearful even though they are all either naturalized citizens or permanent residents of the US.  As one staff member said to me today, “Collington could not exist without immigrants that come here to work.”
 
Thanks and be well.

Marvell

I would urge residents to share with friends in other communities who might find this a useful model.

I would also remind that there are online tools to help people with such issues, as discussed here.