A Culture of Change
Scottish Summer School – St Andrews, August 2005

2005 was the Year
of the Rabbit
Another summer school to remember, or would it be better to say not to be forgotten. While the flats left a bit to be desired, and meant that some got plenty of exercise walking to and from the school venue, this was more than made up for by the excellence of the programme! A retired member of the Universal House of Justice, two current and one past members of the National Assembly, and one of Rúhíyyih Khánum’s travelling companions, made up the core of speakers together with Drs Abdullah Brooks (from Bangladesh, who, with his family, has been a regular at Scottish summer schools in recent years) and Kevin Sabet (from the USA). The remaining speakers were Andrew Goodwin (Council for Scotland), Ian Fozdar (Training Institute Board), and three Bahá’ís from overseas who spoke of the state of Faith in their countries.

There is no arguing that the highlight of the school was a series of addresses by Mr and Mrs Nakhjavani. Mr Nakhjavani spoke on a variety of subjects including “From Chaos to the Most Great Peace” and “The Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice”, while Mrs Nakhjavani spoke about her memories of travels with Rúhíyyih Khánum, relating may amusing stories, that kept her audience spellbound.

Fidelma Meehan kept the audience on their toes, and laughing, as she delivered a fast moving series of talks/workshops on a “Culture of Change”, encouraging enthusiastic audience participation. Wendi Momen told those present about the work of BOSED (Bahá’í Office for Social and Economic Development), and how it differed from BASED, while John Parris spoke, and ran a workshop, on ‘One Common Faith’, brought us up to date on the new Bahá’í Centre in Edinburgh, and tried to answer the question “What does a new culture look like?”

Dr Brooks presented three session on the subject of change (the slides for which can be found on his Website at homepage.mac.com/abrooks/ under ‘Public...’ followed by ‘Bahá’í’ – no password is required). Another inspiring speaker was Dr Kevin Sabet who spoke about wellness and the use and abuse of prescribed and illegal drugs. Andrew Goodwin gave two talks, one on the culture of change and the second on John Esslemont. The remaining session was given over to three Bahá’ís from three middle eastern countries – one aided by his two energetic young sons!

Of course, it was not all work and no play and there were the ususal ‘extracurricular’ activities. Although I missed it, I understand that the Mr and Mrs quiz game was particularly popular, as was the comment by ‘Smartie Pants’ (not repeatable here) in the fancy dress night. The penultimate night was given over to a ceilidh and dance, the highlight of which was the appearance of Mr and Mrs Nakhjavani in full Highland regalia. And on the final afternoon, we had the now mandatory Bahá’íland Games. (How do they keep coming up with all these new ideas?)

Many thanks for all the work done by those involved in both organising and contributing to this wonderful experience.

So there we have it; I, for one, will be back next year.

Oh yes. “Why Year of the Rabbit?” Well those who were in the flats will have an abiding memory of the ‘lawn mowers’ used by the college authorities!

And some personal thoughts, from Scotland and the USA

The summer school this year had a different feel to it than the usual Aberdeen gatherings, possibly due to the new location in sunny St Andrews. There were a few sentimental remarks and slight reminiscing of the way things had been and the good times had in Aberdeen, but the new surroundings did not disappoint. Neither did the program, which was filled with exciting and motivating talks centred on the theme of ‘A Culture of Change’; so, helped by Abdullah Brooks, John Parris, Andrew Goodwin, Ian Fozdar and Fidelma Meehan, the Scottish community were really given a sense of the what our task is in this remaining year of the Five Year Plan, with the goal of a new culture in mind. And of course we were blessed with the visit of Mr and Mrs Nakhjavani who inspired us with visions of the Most Great Peace and stories of Rúhíyyih Khánum. The entertainment evenings were certainly memorable as well, with never-ending laugher and smiles created from the Mr and Mrs quiz game, the fancy dress night and talent show, and we were treated to a special performance from Omid Djalili which, as always, left most people crying with laughter. The atmosphere at the school was definitely as pleasant and loving as always, a wonderful week characteristic of the Scottish Bahá’í Community.
Carmelia Carew

Being from America, and having never travelled outside of it, I was extremely excited about coming to the Scottish Bahá’í Summer School. I didn’t know what to expect, so naturally I thought it was going to be similar to the conferences and forums we have here in the States. Oh, was I wrong! The amount of unity and love I felt there was like nothing I’ve experienced at any big conference of 500 people that I have attended. Everyone was so loving and yearning to learn; I loved it! The sessions were very informational and inspiring; I felt the harmony between all the speakers and those attending. One of the biggest differences that I noticed was the youth! All of them seemed to get along and socialize with each other trying not to exclude anyone, that sense of love and friendship made me feel at home. I feel I can say in all honesty, it was one of the greatest Bahá’í events I have ever been to. Keep up the great work Scotland!
Borna Goharriz