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6 January 2008

Redefining Education

In our world most people believe that their way, or their religion, race, or nationality is better than that of others. This paradigm of exclusivity, fragmentation and disunity is perpetuated in all of our societal structures. Our education system is one area where competition and the pursuit of success at the expense of others is harnessed. Not so in the town of Little Hampton, England, where Margaret Appa has implemented a method of teaching that is based on mutual support and the belief that we each have unique gems, talents and insights that are not threatening to others but mutually enriching.

CREDITS:
Written & hosted by: LEYLA HAIDARIAN
Produced by: NAYSAN NARAQI, JANITA APPA, & HAMISH MCPHARLIN
Edited by: LEYLA & RYAN HAIDARIAN
Filmed by: HAMISH MCPHARLIN
Executive produced by: NAYSAN NARAQI
"TEACHERS" written by: JASON "MATU" GREEN, BENNY CASSETTE, ROBERT SINCLAIR, and TARA ELLIS; Performed by DAWNBREAKER COLLECTIVE
"SAY GOD SUFFICETH" written & performed by: JB ECKL & ERIC DOZIER

SPECIAL THANKS to Margaret Appa & all of her Students: Ann, Audrey, Dan, Jess, Libby, & Margaret



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2 December 2007

Gems of Inestimable Value

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A recurring theme on our doubletake website has become the importance of holistic education and of loving and raising children. This video uses quotes from many of the world's religions and constitutes a medley of footage from some of our existing doubletake videos. Its title, "Gems of Inestimable Value", is inspired by the quote: "Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value.

Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures." (Baha'i Writings). This video precedes next month's brand new release, which explores the implications of this very quote in redefining the meaning of education and introduces an exciting and entirely new approach to the theme. So stay tuned!

CREDITS
A Film by: Leyla & Ryan Haidarian
Music by: Amal Ma'ani & The African Children's Choir



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Scrubbing a gem makes it shine
Added: Friday, 15 June 2007

watch original V-Blog in Persian

I spent the weekend with a very inspiring family. In South Africa they would be referred to as a so-called "colored" family. As you might know, the country of South Africa experienced a few decades of racial segregation. These years were quite difficult for this family who had become Baha'i and whose fundamental belief revolved around the unity of mankind. But becoming a Baha'i was also a social challenge within their very own "colored" community. Many of their friends who were prejudiced against the Baha'i faith turned away from them. Some of the people who grew up with them crossed to the other side of the street if they saw them. They were treated as though they were lepers. Despite of the racial and religious prejudices prevalent in their reality, this family remained unified, joyful and kept their home open to all.

As the years went by, apartheid crumbled, as any system eventually does, which separates people and ignores our fundamental oneness. But this beautiful family experienced more hardships. One of their sons was diagnosed with a brain tumor after months of misdiagnoses. The physician who had been monitoring the boy's condition had initially belittled the mother's instinct and concerns. Yet he was suddenly faced with the realization that the little boy had developed a tumor, which was in the advanced stages. The news was devastating to the family. As the mother explained to me, she suffered both from unimaginable fear for the life of her child and intense anger for the insensitivity of the doctor.

The family's life began to change. They went from being very social and outgoing, to being introverted and introspective. They prayed, they changed their diet and they began to talk and spend time together in a whole new way. As a result, they had to sharpen their skills in areas like patience, compassion, selflessness and even forgiveness. As the mother recalls, her journey of forgiving the doctor who had brushed her off was a difficult but rewarding one. She spent months praying for the strength to forgive and move on.

She hadn't seen him for a while when she walked into the hospital elevator one day and bumped into him. This was the chance for her to prove that she had forgiven him. They're eyes locked and he said, "I'm sorry". The mother answered, "I accept your apology and please learn from this experience so you don't make the same mistakes next time."

When the family saw their son and brother off into surgery, they realized that his life was now in God's hands. No human could guarantee that he would emerge healthy and alive. No money in the world could buy a guaranteed outcome. They had to give it up to God. And so they faced their ultimate test of faith, trying hard to accept God's will, whatever the outcome may be. Happily the operation was successful and the young boy was healed.

Coming out of this dark tunnel, the family had changed forever. The experience had refined them, because they had chosen to it into strength. Baha'u'llah says we are like "mines rich in gems of inestimable value". We are created noble. And these tests and difficulties polish the gems within us. It hurts and it can be violent, but the outcome is a sparkling refinement – if we chose it to be.

The result of this test was that the family soon decided to adopt a child into their loving home. They went into an orphanage and consciously asked for the child that needed it the most. As fate would have it, they received a child who had experienced not only abuse and violence as a baby, but suffered from a condition that affected the brain. With this new child, their daughter and sister, the family was ready to take on the challenge with zeal and strength. Although this shouldn't matter to anyone, I wish to point out that the child was "black". From within the context of South African history, this is important. It is a demonstration that humanity is slowly approaching the day when it will realize that we are all fundamentally one, created from the same stock. When we begin to take care of each other as brothers and sisters regardless of the color of our skin or outer differences, only then, will this world change. Today they all live together happily and healthily giving back to their communities and growing from strength to strength.

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