Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Trip to the Wat Lao Buddharam of Amarillo

On Wednesday, Feb. 25th, my "Introduction to World Religions" class took a field trip to the one place here in Amarillo, Texas where we could get a taste of traditional Buddhism: the Wat Lao Buddharam, which means something like "Laotian Buddhist Temple." The campus, which includes several acres and a number of buildings, is located at 4695 Hwy. 136, just inside Amarillo Loop 335, and is open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm every day.

I had been trying to set up such a trip for a long time. Some of my first phone calls were answered by a monk who didn't speak much English at all, just enough to tell me that the one man who did speak English wasn't there. And since I hadn't gotten very far with my Laotian language studies, well. . .

Eventually, though, I was able to meet up with a new friend, Bantun, a monk who speaks English quite well and who agreed for my class to come out.

Coming through the entrance gate, we saw the small temple pictured at the top. We were told that this facility usually sits empty, used only on special occasions like the ordination of a monk.

Once inside the main building, which doesn't have the ornate exterior, we were greeted by Bantun who spoke to the group and answered our questions. Over all, it turned out to be a good trip, one that my students and I won't soon forget.

I really like it when my classes can get out of the classroom and do something out of the ordinary, something they didn't expect when they signed up for the course. People truly learn and retain things that they actually do. And, while things like field trips, experiments, etc., always involve more risk and inconvenience than keeping everyone in the classroom, I think that the extra effort is worth it.

10 comments:

hobo-bebop said...

I appreciate the effort you made in setting up the trip. I had no idea that we had anything like it in Amarillo.

I'm not sure if the comment section of your blog allows HTML tags, so instead of linking my photos from the trip, I'll just provide the URL: http://hobo-bebop.livejournal.com/55819.html

Frank Bellizzi said...

Thanks, h-b.

Chelly said...

I'm so happy I stumbled across your article. My daughter and I have been wanting to visit the temple and I have called, but with no results. Would you know how someone could appropriately visit?

Chelly said...

I'm so happy I stumbled across your article. My daughter and I have wanted to visit the temple for some time. We're both very drawn to Buddhism and I have made some calls to the temple, but have had no luck.
Would you have any idea how we might be able to visit?
Thank you very much and have a lovely day.

Frank Bellizzi said...

Chelly, I've had the same problem reaching someone there by phone. However, the temple is open most days of the week (or all seven?) beginning early in the morning. Your best bet is to visit the place during the day. Best wishes.

Rebecca said...

Hi I have called the temple several time. I am taking a World of Religion class and I am required to have and interview and visit for my final. I Chose to do my final on Buddhism because I find it very interesting. When I called this morning the mad told me sorry but no one here speaks English very well although I could understand him perfectly fine. How did you get your interview set up? any help would be great help. I would really like to visit!

Becca said...

Hi I have called the temple several time. I am taking a World of Religion class and I am required to have and interview and visit for my final. I Chose to do my final on Buddhism because I find it very interesting. When I called this morning the mad told me sorry but no one here speaks English very well although I could understand him perfectly fine. How did you get your interview set up? any help would be great help. I would really like to visit!

Frank Bellizzi said...

Becca,

When you call, ask for Bantun (pronouced, I think, Bahn-TOON). He is the best English speaker in the sangha. Whether you reach him or not, I'd just go out to the temple for a visit and see what happens. Good luck with your project.

Becca said...

The only thing bad with me just showing up there is that I don't live in Amarillo, I live 90 miles from Amarillo. I will try to call back and Bantun and see how that works. If not I might have to just drive to Amarillo! Thank you for the info!

Anonymous said...

You, sir, are amazing. I am pleasantly suprised and shocked that you introduced a group of kids to a different way of thinking. Thank you