This blog was originally posted on Little Ripples by Felicia Lee. 

My eyes filled up with tears today. Now, don’t go feeling bummed out yet. I wasn’t on the verge of crying because I was having a moment of despondency over the “plight of refugees,” or so the oft-used phrase goes. This isn’t going to be that kind of blog entry. The tears I had were the kind that come from being carried to a place of pride and confidence, through experiencing what our refugee friends are affecting in the lives of young children.

LR student practicing mindfulness We were able to see two Little Ripples Ponds in session today, and both of them were amazing coalescences of scholarship and fun. The teachers were sure as they led their students through the morning program, and the students were attentive as they eagerly participated in each activity. We saw students lined up for one of the teachers to help wash each of their tiny hands with soap. We saw lovingly-made rice dishes served to circles of children hungry for lunch and hungry to learn and play. We saw unabashed dancing as girls and boys jumped out-of-time to the beats of a wooden drum played by their encouraging teacher. My favorite part was when we saw all the students of each Pond lying on their backs, with hands on their tummies, and breathing deeply—and loudly!—according to the guidance of a chime. 

On our last trip, we held intense training for all the Little Ripples teachers, and one area covered was mindfulness. The teachers had already been doing some quick mindfulness movements with their classes, but this training delved into further detail and emphasis on the importance of this practice, as well as suggested additional exercises. What a long way the teachers have come, from that trip to this one! This morning’s mindfulness sessions at the Ponds were calm, unhurried, quiet, and permeated the atmosphere with wavelengths of peace. Our preschool program is called “Little Ripples” because of its “ripples” of effect into the surrounding community and beyond—and talk about ripples! As the students practiced mindfulness today, the feeling of serenity radiated out into all who looked on, including neighborhood adults and children who had stopped in out of curiosity about our visit. It was beautifully stirring.

My eyes were filled with tears today because my heart was filled with gratification and with gratitude.

Thank you, Little Ripples teachers, for allowing me to be privy to such tangible change that you are creating. Thank you, iACT family, for the same.