What Online Learners Are Writing about the Wilmette Institute: Six-Word Essays and More
To celebrate its twentieth anniversary, the Wilmette Institute staff decided to ask its online learners and students in its Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization program to compose “essays of six well-chosen words,” to share impressions of their experiences, to capture a favorite reminiscence, or to relate a story describing their experiences with Institute courses. We did know what to expect. But with our endlessly fascinating, international, creative, and determined student body, we should have known that we would be amazed by our students have to say.
Six-word essays have proved to be popular. From China and Canada two students have described the Wilmette Institute by focusing on the nature of the online community of learning:
Wilmette Institute, a living divine phenomenon —Barbara Pakravan, Hefei, China
Enriching learning, spiritual expansion, warm community —Donna Pickel, St. Marys, Ontario, Canada
Students from the United States have focused on the nature of the learning experience in Wilmette Institute courses, often mentioning the spiritual aspects of studying about the Bahá’í Faith:
Curious? Prepare to be. Engaged, amazed! —John Morgan, Austin, Texas, USA
Challenging, Eye-Opening, Inspiring Spiritual Experience —Cynthia Hall, High Point, North Carolina, USA
Knowledge that serves to deepen devotion —Niki Daniels, Waterloo, South Carolina, USA
A spiritual tour de brain candy —Linda Zahl, St. Helens, Oregon, USA
Well Paced Without High Input Overload —Rich Davi, Mt. Prospect, Illinois, USA
So far, the Wilmette Institute has heard from two students from its Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization (SFGC) program, a four-year online and residential program offered from 1996 through 2005. Nicole Zamir (from the Chicago, Illinois, area)—wrote about how she continues to put to use the knowledge about world religions that she learned in the SFGC program:
I have many fond memories of my time studying at the Wilmette Institute. It provided the foundation for my understanding of different religions that would last a lifetime, and I have often drawn upon the knowledge I gained there when teaching people of various backgrounds I meet about the Bahá’í Faith. I have had the unique opportunity to be able to answer live phone calls to seekers calling (800)22-UNITE and asking questions at our public website, and my understanding of various religions gained from that intensive phase of study has been put to use many times when responding to seekers’ questions or just having a better idea how to frame the teachings to the background of the inquirer. I will also always cherish the spirit of love and special camaraderie between the amazing individuals that were my fellow students back then. Although I was only able to commit to one year, I wish every youth had the opportunity to participate in this experience I had.
The course about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life, has been my first one at the Wilmette Institute, and I am looking forward to my upcoming course, Early Mystic Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, which starts on April 1, 2015. I am still active in my course about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
I have enjoyed my association with the Wilmette Institute, learning a lot more about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and sharing my posts with students at the Wilmette Institute and my friends in the Dayton, Ohio, area and other places. These have been great experiences and have made me to pay more attention to spiritual qualities, in addition to material factors.
It is not too late for you to send your own six-word essays or your impressions, reminiscences, or stories. E-mail them to Dr. Betty J. Fisher (email@example.com) and copy them to Dr. Robert Stockman (firstname.lastname@example.org). For more details, see the story called Sharing Your Six-Word Essays, Impressions, Reminiscences, or Stories about your experiences with the Wilmette Institute.