camphill schools

Summer Blog Series: Highlights from The Bulletin (#3)

This Summer, we are sharing some of our favorite articles published this past year in The Bulletin. Enjoy!

11th Grade Parzival Trip

by Angela Nusbaum, High School English Teacher

On a cold, rainy, Sunday night, our trusty Green Meadow buses fought their way through the harsh January rains. It was dark on our arrival at the Camphill Special School’s Beaver Run campus. The 11th grade unloaded the buses valiantly, perhaps inspired by the knightly fearlessness and constancy of the heroes in Parzival, Wolfram von Eschenbach’s rich tale of a Grail quest. Already halfway through the book, the students were deep into an experience which begged the question—among many questions—“How can I come to know the one standing in front of me?” With few expectations, the students were eager both to meet the children with special needs living at Beaver Run, and, through this intensive week, to meet each other newly. The weather echoed and enforced the class’s transition through the week. While the torrential rains made it hard to see past one’s own nose to begin with, by Thursday the sun lit up the rolling Pennsylvania distances, and gilded the fields and houses in which we had witnessed so much joy and steady love. The houses seemed woven together not just by their shared schedules, but by their shared goals and the wakeful practice of recognizing the highest humanity in each member of the community. Our concentrated morning conversations in the carpeted library or the vaulted, gloriously lit “Rainbow Hall” informed and were informed by the long, joyful exhale of activities the rest of the day. The trip was filled with quiet moments, outdoor work, conversations ready to happen, and a sounding chord of being open and awake to others. As students took up their own breaking through boundaries, the words of Karl Konig, founder of the Camphill movement felt true:

“There is a knighthood of the twenty-first century, whose riders do not ride through the darkness of physical forests, as of old, but through the forest of darkened minds.”

The following are words from the journals students kept during the course, writing on impressions of the people, the book and their experience.

            “ Her constant stream of jokes ever fail to make me laugh, and if life were to weigh me down, she would be the one to lighten my load. Going on 20, She bears the resilience and positivity of a child..”    

            “I was upset to leave because I enjoyed talking to him, but we both knew that we would see each other for lunch, as he asked me, ‘Corey, you need to leave? Aw. Will you come back?’ To which I replied, “Of course! I’ll be back for lunch!” He was ecstatic, as was I.”

            “The trip was incredible in many ways, but but most of all, it taught me how compassionate and caring my classmates can be…”

            “I have never seen an institution similar to this, and have already gained a massive admiration for it. Witnessing the intensive care and interaction that the aids and house parents give to the children shows the dedication of the school. The happiness of the children reflects the environment that they live in.”

            “Like Gawan, the creator of Camphill and all the caretakers and teachers dedicated their lives to asking questions. ‘What is hurting you? How can I help?’ Gawan, the asker of questions, would sacrifice his life for the sake of others.”

            “I hope that this coming summer I will have the opportunity to return to Beaver Run and volunteer for a few weeks. In this way I hope to create stronger relationships with the incredible children, and perhaps have a greater appreciation for the abilities that I have been blessed with.”

            “Answers are an odd thing. We yearn for them, are impatient for them…sorrow for them. It seems, though, that once we have our answers, we only have more questions.”

            “Parzival learns from trial and error, sometimes, which we are strongly able to experience when entering into someone else’s house. Just as when Parzival intrudes on Jeschute, we might rudely interrupt or cross over boundaries into someone else’s space, because we do not know better.”

            “We experienced and witnessed many moments that connect to the book: the ability and inability to be observant and aware (as seen in Gawan and Parzival); the innocence, honest and purity in each child; the sensitivity, love, and above all, the bravery these children hold.”