by Amrit Kaur Khalsa, school alumni 2007.
Studying at Miri Piri Academy, a Sikh boarding school located in India, is a very unique and life changing experience. Four years later I am still recognizing every day what an amazing opportunity I had in growing up there. Now, in college I am constantly asked “What is Miri Piri Academy and why would I attend a residential school in India?” My short answer is always because it was an amazing experience, the long answer being much more complicated.
Often when I am asked where I went to high school and I tell people at I was at an international boarding school in India, I get a look of surprise and a flood of questions starting with “Why? Did your parents live in India?” When I explain that I was there for nine months at a time and only saw them in the summer, people are even more shocked and usually wonder if I missed home. The answer is yes. For three months every summer when I was back with my parents, I missed home more then I can explain!
Miri Piri Academy is Home
After a year at Miri Piri Academy it becomes home, and the people you live with become family. Not to say that I didn’t miss my actual family, but that is the only way I know how to describe the connections you can make there. The people you meet and the connections you make are to me reason enough to go half way across the world to attend a boarding school in India. But there are more reasons that add to the unique experience that is attending a private school in India, especially one that focuses on both strong academics and personal and spiritual growth.
Amritsar and the Golden Temple
This wonderful Sikh affiliated boarding school is located in Amritsar, which is also home to a beautiful Sikh place of worship called the Golden Temple. No matter their religious affiliation or spiritual beliefs, I have yet to meet someone who has not felt an immediate sense of calm and awe when visiting the Golden Temple. Being located in such close proximity to the Golden Temple gives students at MPA an amazing opportunity to do seva (selfless service) everyday. This experience for me is one that I greatly cherish and one that I doubt I will have the opportunity to ever do again on such a regular basis.
Boarding School Builds Self-Discipline and Self-Awareness
On top of that, attending a residential school for nine months without my parents gave me a self-discipline and self-awareness that I could never imagine having other wise. Being separated from their parents for a long period of time can give a child the ability to grow into a strong independent person, aware of who they are and what they want out of life, something that many people do not have the opportunity to do until college, if ever. The students are on a rigorous schedule starting at 5:45 in the morning and ending at nine at night. Although I was not always happy about constantly being busy, I appreciate the lessons I learned from it, and the mental discipline that I gained to push through and accomplish the things that I need to do.
International Schools Offer Perspective
Attending an international school also gives the opportunity to understand many different cultures and perspectives of the world. By being in a diverse environment you learn how to relate to many different types of people and circumstances, a life skill that is very important in this age of globalization. By attending such a diverse boarding school you make connections with people all over the world, creating more opportunities to further understand cultures that differ from the one that you grew up in.
Spiritual Practice and Growth
A unique aspect of this residential school is its commitment to spiritual growth as well as academic discipline. While at school there I was able to deepen my relationship with the Guru’s through studies of Gurbani, Gatka, Sikh history and studying Sikh scriptures. While there I was also able to deepen my yogic practices through extensive training in Kundalini Yoga. The students attend yoga classes as part of the curriculum and are encouraged to practice yoga on their own as well, something that many of them enjoy doing and participate in often.
Part of the curriculum for the older students is learning how to become a yoga teacher and by the end of 11th grade I was a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher, something that I find invaluable. This gave me and my classmates the opportunity to travel with the Cherdi Kala Jetha and teach yoga and meditation in Malaysia as well as around Amritsar. I was then able to take my knowledge and continue teaching here in the United States and I find it to be one of the most enjoyable parts of my week.
Miri Piri Academy was an amazing experience in my life, one that I will be forever thankful for. I cannot imagine gaining such personal growth and understanding at such a young age anywhere else. Overall attending an international school in India was one of the best opportunities that I have ever had, and I would highly recommend the school to anyone and everyone.