students on a mountain

Mahnoush’s Story

In the Fall of 2018 we were trying our best to rejuvenate the high school at Ananda Village. Our program which had started in 1997 had fallen on hard times with enrollment shrinking to two students. As part of our outreach, we received an outstanding application from Mahnoush, a student in Iran. Since all of our classes at that time were taught in-person here at the Village, we began the process of getting her a student visa. Due to the political climate at that time, we continually ran into roadblocks. At one point Mahnoush was having an encouraging conversation with an agent at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi (there is no U.S. Embassy in Iran). He told her that everything looked to be in order, but that he would need to make one last check with his supervisor. When he returned, his face looked tense, and he told her that her application was not approved. Mahnoush was devastated. When I heard the news, I took my frustration into meditation with a conversation that went something like this. “Master, I know you want your approach to education to continue to grow. Here is a perfect student who would benefit greatly by joining us. Why can’t it happen?” When I got calm enough, the thought came to me, “Why don’t you try to work with her online?” I immediately got up and went to my computer. There, in my inbox was a message from Mahnoush’s parents that said, “Is there any chance that she could join you online?” We forged ahead and a year and a half later when Covid hit, we had an up and running online program that could serve our students seamlessly.