College students build a place of contemplation
MIDDLEBURY — For several years, Vergennes boat builder Douglas Brooks has taught Middlebury College students how to make boats using traditional Japanese methods. This Winter Term he mixed things up a bit by overseeing 14 Middlebury students in the construction of a Japanese teahouse, which provided the students a global, experiential learning opportunity.
The Middlebury students followed a strict adherence to the Japanese apprentice system in which there was no music, no talking and no power tools. One observer said Brooks “turned the studio into a peaceful oasis of concentration and focus.”
The handmade, timber-frame building was completed in the lobby of Johnson Memorial Hall last week. On Thursday it was dedicated with a Shinto ceremony blessing of the structure and its builders, followed by a tea ceremony conducted by licensed tea master Yui Kato, an exchange student from Tokyo studying political science at Middlebury this year. The building will remain in Johnson Memorial Hall at least through the end of February, and Brooks will discuss the class and its underpinnings in a public talk there on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.
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