Meg Wilson, a long-time Abbey volunteer, has a “Wall of Sravasti Abbey” at a public high school in Oklahoma where she teaches 11th and 12th grade. She relies on Sravasti Abbey to bring compassion into her classroom.


open door with colorful words

When I tell people I teach eleventh and twelfth grade English, the most common response is something like “Oh dear” and a look of anxiety or outright horror. It’s not without cause: the stereotype of a teenager, especially in those last years of high school, does not paint a very positive picture of young adults.

However, if those same people were to step into my classroom, they would find themselves surrounded by kind and generous people. I firmly believe that this is a result of imbuing my classroom with compassion—not only in how I treat my students and what I expose them to, but also of allowing their own natural compassion to blossom.

And all of this came about through the influence of Sravasti Abbey.

Name that Monastic

My students in this tiny town in Oklahoma are very familiar with Sravasti Abbey. You can find many pictures of the Abbey and the monastics who practice there scattered throughout my classroom, and my students never tire of asking me to play the game, “Name that Buddhist nun or monk.”

They are also extremely curious about my connection to the Abbey. When a student asks what project I’m currently working on for “that place with the nuns and monks,” they all go quiet and listen as I describe my latest adventures as a volunteer-from-afar. 

open door with colorful words

Silent influence

They are also influenced by the Abbey and Venerable Chodron in ways they don’t realize.

We begin our class with three deep breaths and a reminder that we all want to be happy and free from suffering. And, of course, you can’t look anywhere in my classroom without seeing “my favorite quote,” as my students say: May we always be happy and free from suffering!

This doesn’t mean that my classroom is a utopia, though. Conflicts do arise and hateful things are sometimes said by those who are having a bad day.

However, instead of immediately reacting with sarcasm or something spiteful, I hear Venerable Chodron in my head asking, “Who is this I that is being criticized? Where is this me that is being blamed and is hurt?”

I’m not perfect, but these days I find myself looking within more than reacting externally. This is perhaps the biggest influence that Sravasti Abbey has had on my students—and they aren’t even aware of it.

You matter!

The Abbey’s influence has also given my students the support they need to grow their own good qualities. They were on the news in November because they gathered so much food for our Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets that it filled up a huge section of the classroom.

clasroom full of groceries

They buy and donate prom dresses for students in need. And they are currently planning the annual “You Matter Week” in which they do all sorts of projects to show every student that they are loved and their lives matter.

We host a “prom dress” fashion show highlighting dresses that student in need can borrow; we cover every locker with sticky notes full of kind wishes and affirmations; and we host games at lunch with the purpose of giving pep talks to those in the cafeteria. These events and activities are organized and completed by the students. I simply observe and smile.

Abbey nuns hold up the merit robe for all to see

Every day

All of this is possible because the teachings that flow from the Abbey have influenced my life which then influences their lives as well. It is very obvious to me that Sravasti Abbey is creating peace in this chaotic world and in my classroom every single day.