International Student Profiles

Isha, MA Environmental Leadership student from Nepal

What brought you to Naropa?
I first found out about Naropa in high school. I was interested in the Beat Generation which led me to Naropa. I had wanted to go to Naropa ever since but something or the other never worked out and I gave up the idea. However, in my junior year of college, I took a class called Buddhism in the USA in which I got reintroduced to Naropa. I revisited the idea of attending Naropa and coincidentally Naropa happened to offer a program in Environmental Leadership, which is the field I was planning to pursue graduate studies in. Through a chain of coincidental events, I ended up at Naropa. The reason why I wanted to attend was because it seems to be the only educational system today that is bold enough to challenge the prevalent mechanistic or industrial worldview and encourage the integration of the heart with the mind.

What personal goals or vision would like to accomplish while at Naropa?
I came to Naropa because it integrates and values inner as well as outer development. All through my life, I've been frustrated with the education system because it seems to devalue the knowledge inherent within us. Thus, my personal goal at Naropa is to explore my inner world and integrate the knowledge discovered through this with intellectual thought.

What has your experience been like as part of the Naropa community?
Although quite small, this community is very accepting of diversity and encourages it. I have learnt a lot from the people here even though I've just been here for a short while. The creativity that thrives in this community not only amazes me but also nourishes me. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of the Naropa community.

What surprises or challenges have you encountered at Naropa University as an international student and how have you addressed them?
Studying at Naropa can be challenging not just academically but also emotionally and mentally.
The classes at Naropa have encouraged me to examine my assumptions. This has been extremely difficult and uncomfortable at times but it has always leaded to a greater understanding of my conditioned way of thinking and habitual patterns. International or not, I feel that everyone who decides to attend Naropa should be prepared to face the grueling task of dismantling their habitual patterns and deep-set belief systems to explore the realm that exists beyond what they currently know.

What are your plans for after graduation?
Ideally, I would like to go back home to Nepal where I would like to apply the intuitive and integrated worldview that I am developing here to view some of the issues that provoke me and use the skills I have acquired to understand and engage in positively transforming these issues. In addition, I would also like to use my skills as an artist to encourage people to closely reexamine their relationship to nature and the industrial world.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live by?
As much as I would say yes to this question, I cannot because although I have many mottos and quotes that I love, I seldom seem to live by them. I love quotes but my fascination with them seems to be limited to the words and never translates into reality. I guess that this could be another goal to pursue while I'm at Naropa—to try and embody the million and one quotes I love.

Sandrine, MFA Theater: Contemporary Performance student from Germany/Austria

What brought you to Naropa?
In summer 2006 I spend my summer in New York City, where I met a number of fabulous theatre artists. So I also came in contact with several approaches to acting trainings and techniques. Then, going back and forth between Vienna and NYC I started to study in a two-year certification program in Fitzmaurice Voicework.

In 2008, I became an associate teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework. During the time of our final exam, I was encouraged by my acting teachers to continue to study acting abroad. I looked closely at many universities and drama schools, I wanted to apply for. I visited schools, watched their classes, spoke to faculty members and gathered a great deal of information. At the time, I realized how much each program had to offer in terms of skills and training for acting. I believed each one would benefit me for my education and career. So back in Vienna, I started to apply to several acting programs and was invited to audition by American universities and acting schools.

When I visited Naropa in summer 2008, I felt that this acting program would be a fabulous challenge to study abroad and because I saw that this acting training would be a chance for intensive education of theatre training with different approaches to acting and teaching methods, a deep drama foundation that includes classical training as well as experimental methods, and a chance to study the actor in a psycho-physical moment, to study text-analysis, specified movement classes as well as speech- and voicework in an acting moment.

In addition I received a scholarship as a major funding from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). The grant provides for a year of study in an American graduate program. I was chosen in a national competition by a selection committee made up of prominent German professors; I still feel honored to have received this grant. That all seemed a sign that I was making the right decision about developing my skills in an acting program elsewhere to gather fresh experiences for my acting training, which I wanted to takeback into my theatre culture.

And when I got a closer look into Naropa's mindful Buddhist-inspired concept about contemplative education, I became convinced of the immense benefits if I could study at Naropa and especially in this acting program. Though I have acted in quite a few projects and plays in Europe, though I was always connected to new approaches in performance by teaching acting and voice at schools and universities for art in Austria and Germany, I have felt in the last years a yearning to learn more about performing in a different methodological and experimental way, a liberty that has its roots in a mindful and creative environment that is very different from all I knew so far.

When I received my acceptance from Naropa's Performing Arts department, I was more than happy and absolutely convinced that I would like to spend my time as a student as best as I can to open as many doors as possible for my growing as artist and human being.

What personal goals or vision would like to accomplish while at Naropa?
With studying abroad and in specific with being a student in Naropa's Performing Arts department, with getting involved in the Naropa’s community and becoming engaged and inspired by the contemplative approach of education, I truly feel a major transition in my professional and personal life—a gift that opens a new door for myself in many ways, I am very grateful about.

And I’d like to see it as a gift and goal: to continue contributing to Naropa University’s contemplative idea of of forging the next generation of story tellers but also to support the idea for a genuine connection between diverse and multicultural theatre traditions liberated from difficulties in language barriers, political or religious determinations or diversity in culture.

What has your experience been like as part of the Naropa community?
I want to continue to studying at Naropa University’s acting program Contemporary Performance which in my opinion nurtures my joy in learning, a critical intellect and a sense of purpose that accompanies my compassionate service to the world, and the openness and equanimity that can be developed from authentic insight and self-understanding—as artist, and responsible human being in our society.

Encouraged by my experiences in the university’s community, I feel and believe that this is the way I need and want to go for my development and future!

Aware about my energy and passion and with all my being I hope to fulfill on an artistic and personal wish that is connected with my understanding a contemplative education: Getting prepared to meet the world as it is and to change it for the better with my work as authentic human artist—a goal I dream about.

What surprises or challenges have you encountered at Naropa University as an international student and how have you addressed them?
“At certain junctions in the course of existence, unique moments occur when everyone and everything, even the most distant stars, combine to bring about something that could not have happened before and will never happen again. Few people know how to take advantage of these critical moments, unfortunately, and they often pass unnoticed. When someone does recognize them, however, great things happen in the world." (M.Ende: MOMO)

...Moments that happened to me in my student life here at Naropa over and over again...!

What are your plans for after graduation?
Finding and attending the theatre program at Naropa gives me the opportunity to be in a creative, open-minded and balanced environment to approach self-knowledge and self-growth, as well as professional efficiency and achievement. Specified as a contemplative and mindful model of collaborative art work this program, is very new in the field and to study its unique training techniques means an invaluable chance for me to bring my experiences into the European theatre and performance world, both as actress as well as acting coach. A favorite goal that I will likely face after graduation and when I return.

With all my passion and heart for the wondrous world of performing arts, I have a dream about this idea of a global connected theatre world, where artists with their rich a imagery source and need for imagination as well as their ability to seeing an empty space transformed into stories, communicate and collaborate together to offer and create an potential inherent life event. That might have a chance to lead into intercultural discourse that acknowledges and wants the interaction with our society and an understanding for our individual as well as universal being on earth.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live by?
"YOU must be the change you wish to see in the world. (Mahatma Gandhi)
“It’s a question of realization that whatever your experience is, it is not necessarily all that solid. Things are not all that solid and substantial there is an illusory quality to things.” (Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche)

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” (E. Roosevelt)

Juju, BA Contemplative Psychology student from Thailand

What brought you to Naropa?
Two of my former professors graduated from Naropa, and one of them recommended me to check out Naropa after she read my paper on meditation and counseling.

What personal goals or vision would like to accomplish while at Naropa?
To work with myself in order to be a good therapist and to work with others based on Buddhist teachings and everything I have learned from Naropa.

What has your experience been like as part of the Naropa community?
Totally cool. Naropa is a wonder. It is different, in good ways, from everywhere I have known. Once one is here, one will definitely know what I am talking about.

What surprises or challenges have you encountered at Naropa University as an international student and how have you addressed them?
There are not many international students here. It is good in the way that international students can really learn English. However, their bond is not so strong; each person is independent and busy with one's business. Due to diversity, each of them has different needs and experiences of being here. Therefore, it is really hard to get together and support each other since everyone already has one's own problems. I am trying to make sure that the international students here can gather together sometimes. It is really hard for me to do that, but I am still trying. Hopefully, there will be more international students soon.

What are your plans for after graduation?
Getting the master's degree in transpersonal counseling psychology with art therapy emphasis.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live by?
Everything that has a beginning has an end.

Igor Guisti, BA Contemplative Psychology & Religious Studies student from Italy

What brought you to Naropa?
I was searching for a school in which I could be supported in my study of spirituality and psychology in both an academic and experiential way. Naropa seemed a perfect fit.

What personal goals or vision would you like to accomplish while at Naropa?
I would like to realize an eclectic view on spirituality by learning how different cultures, religions, philosophies, and schools of psychology approach the subject. It is fascinating to learn how the mystical side of each religion approaches the same subject in its own different way emphasizing some mystical aspects more than others.

What has your experience been like as part of the Naropa community?
It has been extremely supportive to live a spiritual life in the here and now. Here everyone understands in a way or another what spirituality is. In fact, after a while, this is assumed. When that occurred to me, I felt home. From then on, because I felt very supported, the basic struggle to live a spiritual life was gone and I could focus better on my personal growth.

What surprises or challenges have you encountered at Naropa University as an international student and how have you addressed them? 
At first it was difficult to relate to people. Coming from a culture where feelings are the main means through which communication occurs and landing into a culture that uses mostly the rational mind in its interpersonal relationships threw me off. That time was isolating and painful. I would make many inappropriate moves such as consistently touching people or being in their space as a way to relate in a more feeling-oriented way. In time I learned a different way of relating—the American way.

The Diversity Seminar was very helpful to deal with this challenge. In that class I voiced much of my difficulties and then wrote a final paper on the subject. Also, I read about people who had had similar experiences and this made me feel understood and seen. This mere fact allowed me to acknowledge my pain, look at it, and eventually heal. This process is not over; however, the worst has passed.

What are your plans for after graduation? 
I plan to do my master's degree in Transpersonal Counseling at Naropa.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live by?
Live life, put your heart in it.

Capella, MA Transpersonal Counseling Psychology student from Mainland China

What brought you to Naropa?
My former professor was trying to introduce mindfulness-based stress reduction to China, so I learned mindfulness from him and wanted to study mindfulness-related therapy in the future, and Naropa University seemed to be a pretty good choice.

What personal goals or vision would like to accomplish while at Naropa?

  • Learn to deal with emotional and life issues in a more mature manner.
  • Reach a better understanding of myself.
  • Equip myself with more practical counseling skills.
  • Bring what I learn at Naropa to China, and bring what I know about China to Naropa.

What has your experience been like as part of the Naropa community?
I was in business school before I came to Naropa. The sincere friendliness and openness of people here impressed me a lot. Teachers and classmates are always nice and kind. Naropa should be one of the kindest schools in U.S.

What surprises or challenges have you encountered at Naropa University as an international student and how have you addressed them?
Although Naropa has been influenced a lot by Eastern concepts, there are only few students and faculty really from Eastern countries. Actually the community still lacks diversity, which makes an international student as me feel more lonely and harder to find support. The international student advisor helped me a lot in diversity and life issues. Accessing CU's multicultural communities is another way I use to find extra resources and support.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I haven’t figured out exactly what I want to do after graduation, since I still have two years to go. I’m very interested in doing cultural communication, training and other education and information exchange related to psychology and spirituality. There is a huge gap between East and West in understandings of society, psychology and spirituality. Facts and information worth spreading on both sides to reduce unnecessary conflicts and cultivate a better understanding of human race. Counseling is another option. Facilitating people in their psychological and spiritual journey one by one is always my dream.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live by?
Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

©