Children Study 16 Guidelines & English in Mongolia

 Youth participants in the 16 Guidelines English language classes, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 2018. Photo by Altangerel Tumurtogoo.

Youth participants in the 16 Guidelines English language classes, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 2018. Photo by Altangerel Tumurtogoo.

FPMT center Ganden Do Ngag Shedrup Ling has begun offering children’s classes on the 16 Guidelines for a Happy Life. These classes are taught to the children in the English language so the youth can learn English while also learning how to live a happy life.

Ganden Do Ngag Shedrup Ling’s center director Ianzhina Bartanova shared the inspiration behind this initiative, the first of its kind in Mongolia:

Since the early 2000s it has been one of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s visions for Mongolia that we commence teaching the English language with a Dharma focus. In May 2017, while Lama Zopa Rinpoche was visiting Mongolia, Rinpoche advised that it would be very good for us to continue offering English language classes, and to utilise the 16 Guidelines for a Happy Life for the curriculum.

Our first initiative was to develop the program for children, based on the lesson plans contained in the kit Ready, Set, Happy. Published by FPMT international project FDCW, Ready, Set, Happy is a collection of songs, poems, plays, games, and scientific experiments adults can use to present the 16 Guidelines to children ages seven to eleven.

 Youth participating in the 16 Guidelines English language classes, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 2018. Photo by Ianzhina Bartanova.

Youth participating in the 16 Guidelines English language classes, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 2018. Photo by Ianzhina Bartanova.

With great help and support from FDCW and Denise Flora who has participated in FDCW’s The a.r.t. of Fulfillment course, we were able to prepare our curriculum.

We chose to initiate the 16 Guidelines English language program with children because by sharing the knowledge and skills gained through the program with their families and friends, the children can bring compassion, wisdom, and universal responsibility to their families. We have the intention to gradually adapt the program for adults and in this way effect positive changes in more Mongolian families.

Also with the English language being a most convenient and popular language in the world, we see that this learning will open many more doors for the participants and their futures as so many Dharma materials and teachings are available in English.

Our sincere aspiration for this project is to support the development and growth of universal children, who will be able to spread the values of love, compassion, justice, forgiveness, mindfulness, tolerance, and peace throughout the world.

 Ganden Do Ngag Shedrup Ling’s 16 Guidelines teacher Altangerel Tumurtogoo and students, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 2018. Photo by Ianzhina Bartanova.

Ganden Do Ngag Shedrup Ling’s 16 Guidelines teacher Altangerel Tumurtogoo and students, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 2018. Photo by Ianzhina Bartanova.

Ganden Do Ngag Shedrup Ling’s 16 Guidelines teacher Altangerel Tumurtogoo shared stories from the children’s classes:

There are ten children, ages ten to fifteen in our 16 Guidelines classes. At the beginning the children were very shy. I had noticed in other previous classes that shyness and humility are the biggest barriers for Mongolian children. Besides shyness, speaking in English was the second problem for the children.

The children steadily began to express their opinions in class. This started to happen after we read some stories, something we do in every class. When the story finished the children had the opportunity to exchange thoughts, explore ways of working together, and express their ideas as a group.

 Buckets made by students in class, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 2018. Photo by Altangerel Tumurtogoo.

Buckets made by students in class, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 2018. Photo by Altangerel Tumurtogoo.

When we read the story Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud, one of our children said, “The bucket represents people’s minds. When we are happy and satisfied, our mind is peaceful. When our mind is peaceful, we can make us as well as others happy like filling a bucket. But when we are sad and dissatisfied, we make us and others unhappy like dipping a bucket.” Of course after reading this story together we all just want to be the bucket filler.

We also drew pictures and made our own buckets, filling them with the words that we want to have, and did a wonderful rainbow according to the stories.

 Student artwork made in class, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 2018. Photo by Altangerel Tumurtogoo.

Student artwork made in class, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 2018. Photo by Altangerel Tumurtogoo.

As a tradition, we play active games at the beginning of each class to motivate ourselves and have fun. At the end of every class we play games to practice our English such as broken phone, word guessing, and puzzles.

 Students playing games together and practicing their English, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 2018. Photo by Altangerel Tumurtogoo.

Students playing games together and practicing their English, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 2018. Photo by Altangerel Tumurtogoo.

The children shared some stories about the importance of humility, patience, contentment, delight, generosity, and honesty from their lives. We discussed the disadvantages of being proud, greedy, and telling lies, and how we could behave the opposite way. Surprisingly, we needed almost six months before we were able to become open-minded and treat each other as one team.

I find it beautiful that the children now have the power to make good behavior decisions and act with kindness in society. We are trying to increase the number of this kind of people in our society.

For more information about Ganden Do Ngag Shedrup Ling visit their website.

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