New Vrindaban Hosts Harvard’s Pluralism Project

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By Bhaktin Rita Gupta
April 11, 2010

This past weekend, New Vrindaban Community hosted 36 students from the Global Leadership Center (GLC) at Ohio University it Athens, OH. Dr. Greg Emery, the GLC’s Director, is an affiliate of Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, which studies religious diversity in the United States, focusing on communities and religious traditions from Asia and the Middle East. The Pluralism Project is funded by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.

Dr. Emery first encountered the Hare Krishna tradition as an undergraduate student in 1980 when he met Radhanath Swami, who was then a member of New Vrindaban Community. Dr. Emery continues to visit New Vrindaban regularly as part of his on-going research on the community.

The GLC offers a two-year undergraduate certificate that prepares students to be internationally-minded professions. “Studying the Hare Krishna tradition is the most exciting project we’ve had over the past two years,” said Diana Gryniuk, a junior in Communications Studies. “A lot of us are Catholic, and this is the first religion-based project we have had.”

“Visiting New Vrindaban was refreshing,” agreed Tara Frazier, a junior in Communications Studies. “All our other projects have involved business, politics, and history. It’s nice to think about something besides yourself and the world’s problems.”

“I am going to go back to school happy. Visiting New Vrindaban got me out of my bubble and made me see that spirituality is important,” said Michael Lupsa, a junior in Arabic and Italian.

On Saturday, the GLC students took guided tours of the Palace of Gold, and attended workshops on spiritual food and the intersection between spirituality and sustainability. In the evening, there was a variety of entertainment options, including a lake-side bonfire, music in the temple, and a showing of the new film “The Lost Village.” On Sunday, the GLC students heard some basics of Hare Krishna philosophy, visited New Vrindaban’s Small Farm Training Center, and attended a panel discussion on women in the Hare Krishna tradition.

Many students agreed that they will visit New Vrindaban again, when they need a break from school and studying. “I definitely want to come back for the 24-hour Kirtan Festival on June 19,” said Lupsa hopefully. “This is what I want to do with my life – experience things, taste the food, and visit the farm. I want to be a world citizen and not live in a bubble. ”

New Vrindaban Community is located south of Moundsville – Wheeling, off Route 250. For more information, contact (304) 843-1600 x105 or mail@newvrindaban.com.

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