Room with a view…on the Gandhi Foundation Summer Gathering 2014
by Linnet Drury, 11 years old.
The Gandhi Foundation Summer Gathering (GFSG) is a great way to combine sharing, peaceful thinking, practicality and ideas on fitting Gandhi’s practices into the modern world. This year we all had great fun exploring the Summer Gathering’s topic “Gandhi and Education” and it was hosted at the beautiful Abbey and its grounds in Sutton Courtney, Oxfordshire.
The GFSG this year had people of all ages (8 months to 80 years!) and people from many nationalities, even from India! We had great fun sharing games and delicious food from around the world. It was also excellent for our discussions as we had contributions from such varied backgrounds, as well as ideas and points of view about education from many different sources. In our discussions we shared our personal experience with education, and it was interesting that those who had experienced the Comprehensive system seemed to have enjoyed it more and met a broader range of people. We looked at how schools have improved, how they can still improve and about how we can include Gandhi’s practices in education even more. We picked up on different styles of education, ups and downs, about home education and learning throughout life.
But the morning discussions weren’t the only way of learning at the Summer Gathering. Through living in a community we find that we learn loads from sharing and having fun. Also individual ideas and thoughts can combine to create a harmonious teamwork that showed through in everything we did at the Abbey. In discussions, we combined ideas to think up answers to questions; in shramadana we worked together to do the jobs for the community; in free time we could have fun together; and in the creative activities sessions we combined our skills to fulfil Gandhi’s ideas on practical work.
We had a lot of fun at the GFSG. The beautiful Abbey (some parts dating back to the Norman period) set in between lawns, woods, orchards and a walled garden, was great for its peaceful and meditative aura and practical facilities. People could camp in the orchard, stay in the modern guest house or in the Abbey building itself. In our free time we set out badminton on the lawn, went on river walks, went swimming in the lido in the nearby town, read in the Abbey library, played games, and just talked on the grass. In our creative activities we did painting, weaving, calligraphy, bracelet making, photography and yoga. We had beautiful weather all week so we could do most activities outside. All the food was vegetarian, and delicious, ranging from salads, pasta and homemade bread to genuine Indian curries. The kitchen always had a great aroma.
We all enjoyed ourselves and with next year’s exciting topic “Gandhi in the Digital Age”, I can’t wait until next summer.