How did you get started with Wake Up?
I began practicing with all-age Sanghas approximately 8 years ago when I was in my mid-twenties in the San Francisco (SF) Bay Area. There weren’t groups in my area targeted for young adults. So naturally, when the Wake Up movement began to spread to more areas, I branched out to connect with them. I still practice with the all-ages Sanghas, both English and Vietnamese speaking, even though I do not speak Vietnamese. I learn and grow from all varieties of Sanghas. I first sat with Wake Up Milpitas in January 2014 and the rest is history. As I found myself in a long distance relationship with a member of Wake Up Sydney, I would attend when I visited Australia and when I finally moved back to Sydney, I became a regular member.
How did you transition between the two Sanghas?
I felt right at home with Wake Up Sydney. The commitment of the four core members was strong and they had been practicing for eight months or so after a retreat. I was so surprised when I learned how new a few people were to the practice, yet there is one elder member of the group who has a couple decades of practice already. I just kept doing what I did with Milpitas. I help out where I can. I noticed their Facebook was not active so I took admin control of that. I knew they were strong enough to open up the group and advertise more. It was generally 6 or 8 people. Now the group is usually over 10 and at peak times we’ve had close to 20, just 19 recently! Wake Up Milpitas was very unplanned whereas Sydney is more structured and supported by the larger regular members, so it was an easy transition.
What are your thoughts on how to bridge the language and cultural considerations in our transnational movement?
Language is not an issue here in Australia, still English. I just gotta switch some pronunciation here and there. Culturally, I find SF Bay Area and Sydney to be very similar, if not more diverse in Sydney.
And any tips for Wake Uppers who are moving to another continent either in a written sharing?
I suggest just going to Wake Up or a Sangha and trying it out. It may be a bit different, but just look for the good in the group and what they do well. Then if there are areas for improvement you can offer your support and effort in those areas. Your presence and practice is all that truly matters in the end. Like I said, I go to all the Vietnamese speaking groups and I still get a lot out of the collective energy and support via other’s practice… not to mention yummy vegetarian food. You don’t need to speak to enjoy that practice, haha!