Immersed in the rich traditions of Catholicism from an early age, I followed the path paved by my mother, who embraced the faith after her studies at a Catholic university in Korea. In my youth, attending church services and participating in Sunday school felt like routine rituals, lacking deeper contemplation. However, with maturity came a profound appreciation for the impact of religion on my beliefs and actions. Moments such as communion and confirmation became pivotal, deepening my connection with Jesus and enriching my understanding of Catholicism. Now, Mass holds a sacred significance for me — a time of communal worship where we gather to glean wisdom from scripture, absorb guidance from sermons, and unite in shared devotion.

My childhood visits to Korea were characterized by accompanying my grandmother to Buddhist temples, steeped in the solemnity of centuries-old rituals and spiritual devotion. Guided by my grandmother, I would respectfully bow before towering statues and kindle candles, each action rooted in centuries of tradition. Even the journey from the airport to my grandparents’ home, with the distant sight of a majestic Buddha statue nestled among the hills, left an indelible mark of spiritual grandeur.

Back then, my understanding of Buddhism was superficial, perceiving it merely as another religious practice devoid of deeper meaning. However, a recent encounter at Chùa Tường Vân, a Vietnamese temple in Lowell, Mass., completely altered my perception. Stepping into its sacred halls, I was enveloped in a sense of familiarity intertwined with refreshing novelty. The temple’s vibrant yellow walls adorned with striking red decorations captivated my senses, a departure from the muted hues of the chapel I was accustomed to. The pervasive scent of candles imbued the air with sanctity, while the Buddha statues and revered figures offered glimpses into the intricate tapestry of Buddhist iconography.

What resonated with me most deeply was the pervasive tranquility that suffused every corner of the temple. Whether engaged in silent meditation or bowing in reverence, the atmosphere remained serene, nurturing a profound sense of inner peace. Conversations with fellow Workshop participants affirmed that this serene ambiance was emblematic of Buddhist practice, prompting contemplation on the concept of habit energy in a fresh light.

My visit to Chùa Tường Vân sparked a contemplation on the concept of habit energy — the deeply ingrained patterns of behavior shaping our spiritual and academic lives. Amidst the temple’s serenity, I pondered the contrast between the communal nature of Catholicism and the introspective solitude of Buddhism. The Workshops emphasis on mindfulness further underscored the importance of being fully present, whether in religious observance or everyday life.

Through mindful breathing exercises and meditative practices, I began to grasp the profound connection necessary for true mindfulness. This realization bridged the chasm between religious observation and personal growth, highlighting the universal pursuit of spiritual enlightenment and self-awareness. Amidst the tranquil sanctuary of the temple, amidst flickering candles and reverent whispers, I found a profound sense of peace — a testament to the transformative power of faith and mindfulness.



Each spring term, The Workshop welcomes approximately 20 seniors to this interdisciplinary, project-based course. With an eye toward reimagining what school can be, The Workshop is the senior’s only academic commitment for the entire term. Instead of splitting their time and attention into units of distinct courses and fields of study, they work closely with peers, faculty, and community and global partners on a series of linked, interdisciplinary projects that revolve around a single theme. Within the theme Experiments in Education, students explore areas of personal interest.

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