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Professors Isaac Calvert and Buddy Richards took students to visit the Kirtland, Ohio, area and places of learning and worship at the University of Pittsburgh.

Students at the Kirtland Temple
Top Row: Buddy Richards, Sara Pearce, Hunter Garrett, Annie Lincoln, Joan Halsey, Arianha Groesbeck, Eva Farley, Emma Eversole, Isaac Calvert
Bottom Row: Mrs. Brudno, Lauren Bushnell, Sydney Triggs, Adalaine Sowards, Emily Brudno, Shea Tanner, Melissa Hawkley
Picture courtesy of Sydney Triggs.

It’s not every day you get to meditate with monks, but Sydney Triggs was one of 12 McKay School students, who, along with EdLF professors Isaac Calvert and Buddy Richards, took a trip where they meditated with monks at a Buddhist temple and had other first-hand experiences on how different religions and cultures worship and learn. 

Triggs is a junior in the elementary education program and plans to be a second grade teacher. When Professor Calvert came into her class at the beginning of the semester to pitch the trip to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Kirtland area, Triggs had no idea what she was in for. “I honestly wasn’t sure what the trip was about and I didn’t know what to expect.”

To prepare, the students attended a four-week class, taught by Professor Calvert, in which they studied different ways to worship and discovered what makes a temple a temple. Triggs said she enjoyed Calvert’s approach, “His style of teaching is so unique to anyone else’s, which is really awesome. He made us debate on educational topics, which was interesting because that’s how they do it in Jerusalem.” Some students were actively engaged and really enjoyed the debates while others were hesitant, but Triggs found that the class debates sparked her interest and got her more excited for the trip.

On the trip, the group visited a Buddhist temple, an Orthodox church, a Hindu temple, a mass at a cathedral, and a Jewish synagogue. Leaders of other faiths were impressed that they wanted to be taught about the educational aspect of their religion. Although they loved being taught, learning through application had the biggest impact on the group, “Most beneficial experiences were when they invited us to come learn with them. In the Buddhist temple they talked with us a little bit on how they taught and then they had us sit down and meditate with them. That’s when all of us got it and realized how cool it was,” said Triggs.

Triggs especially enjoyed the Buddhist temple—built in a family’s home, it brought a whole new meaning to ‘our home is a temple.’ She also enjoyed the Jewish synagogue, the Ukrainian Orthodox Christian church, and the church history sites in Kirtland, Ohio. While visiting Kirtland, the group had the opportunity to sing “The Spirit of God” in the Kirtland Temple. Triggs said the group described the experience as ‘surreal’ and one of the highlights of the trip.

For most of the group, going on the trip was an eye-opening experience. They had connected with individuals from other faiths while discovering that they all valued the same thing—just in a different way. “From an education standpoint, I will have the opportunity to influence a lot of lives as an educator, and ultimately if our goal is the same, then we can be successful,” said Triggs.

The trip gave Triggs a new perspective of what she truly values as an educator. “I thought it was cool to see the intention of people wanting to learn. How can I apply that when I become a teacher? Obviously, it will be with second graders, but I want to help them have that same desire or promise themselves to want to come [to school] to learn and become better.”

Writer: Cameron Hussein

Contact: Cynthia Glad 801-422-1922