March 6, 2009

3/9/09 Web Sites x 4

Sometimes I just can't think of anything to write. Not because nothing is happening but because it's difficult to express what is happening in words. But, here I go anyway.

Besides my regular English classes, I've been working on other ways, especially using the internet, to help my students improve their English fluency. Some of you probably know I have a 'class' website called 'Jim Bagsh' ('bagsh' means teacher) where I post my class handouts and audio recordings of these and other news or stories. That way the students can both read and listen to the English.

For example, some of the things I've posted with both text and audio is President Obama's inauguration speech. And recently, a fellow blogger and graduate student, Monica Sanford, recorded a story for me from her blog 'Buddhist in Nebraska'. And this week I posted all I could find online about Medical Terminology for some of my students who are in medical school.

Our center only teaches Beginner to Intermediate English classes. I had thought that my Advanced students would have enough English to begin to study the dharma in their second language or maybe take advantage of the mediation classes Glenda teaches. What would be even better is if they could read the dharma in English at an easier level side-by-side with a Mongolian translation. And of course. the text read in English so they could listen too would be even better. That was how was born.

We are so fortunate that Wisdom Publications has agreed to let me post 'Prince Siddhartha: The Story of Buddha' on the web. About ten years ago, the (Richard) Gere Foundation sponsored the translation and publication of the book into Mongolian. So, with both the English already translated into Mongolian, it was pretty easy to print everything up side-by-side.

But, wait, it gets even better. Both Roy and Glenda know the author, so I contacted him and Jonathan has agreed to record a reading of the entire book for us to post on the website. So everyone can either download an MP3 or, if all goes according to plan, subscribe to our dharma podcast. I can't tell you how excited I am about this new project.

The book is divided into 30 short chapters written in Intermediate English so it's perfect. After that, I hope to publish, side-by-side again, stories Venerable Gyatso wrote when he was the resident teacher here in Mongolia. He arrives soon and will be staying here again for the summer so I hope I can convince him to record the reading of his own words. After that, we'll see if I can get other Buddhist teachers and authors to submit dharma stories written in easy English.

A sample of the side-by-side English-Mongolian

Speaking of Roy, he's the director of Lamp of the Path, a social services NGO that is part of FPMT Mongolia. For a while now he has sent out email newsletters to everyone who is interested in the work Lamp of the Path is doing, like the free medical clinic, the soup kitchen for the poor or the children's program. In today's world, it is almost essential to have something on the internet. So, in the next few days, before he leaves on holiday I will be starting his new blog called So, with that makes four websites I'm involved in.