merasi-group-2Last week we celebrated Michaelmas at Hartsbrook in a variety of ways. Thursday we worked our beautiful land; we harvested ripe crops and prepared the land for next spring’s growing season. The Sixth Grade spread compost on our garden beds and the Eighth and First Grades worked together planting bulbs. On Friday the grade school played our dearly loved dragon’s den game which is a celebration of human courage.

The faculty and staff also explored Michaelmas themes joined by Arthur Zajonc, Board member and school founder.  Mr. Zajonc talked about the Michaelmas themes of courage needed to fight the “dragon” or “monster” in whatever form it takes in our lives and the need for us to take a deep interest in the land that surrounds us.

He also developed a third Michaelmas theme, the need for all of us to take a deep interest in the human beings who surround us. We tried an exercise contrasting what it feels like to actively listen to each other with openness and interest vs. listening to each other with a lack of interest or a wall in between. We all experienced the difference between the welcoming gesture and the way we felt unimportant and unseen when there was no interest. This theme seems especially appropriate for the concerts we experienced last Friday.

Thanks to the generosity of Hartsbrook parent Kelly Feeney and her sister Jeanne Feeney, and Folk Arts Rajastahn, we welcomed the Merasi musicians who came to us from the Thar Desert in northwestern India.  The Merasi are from an untouchable caste – a concept which is very hard for our minds to grasp and the Seventh and Ninth Grades grappled with this idea in the question and answer session which followed the first concert.  This was especially difficult as the concert and music had been filled with joy.  One of the most poignant moments was when a student asked the Merasi if they liked to play sports in India and they answered “We are not allowed to play sports.” One of the tour organizers went on to recount a moving moment when she saw three of the Merasi experimenting with riding a bike at a stop on the concert tour, something they do not have the freedom to do in India.

I will quote the words with which Arthur Zajonc closed his talk last Thursday – words which were very present in the hearts and minds of everyone in the audience for these two remarkable concerts.

Our brothers, our sisters,
When will we learn to welcome them?
Will we learn to love them?

Louise Spear, Faculty Chair

Many more photos can be seen on school photo site