The 2013 graduating class of MUM South Africa
Students after receiving their diplomas
Nine-story office building in downtown Johannesburg where classes are held
People paying tribute to Nelson Mandela outside his home
Dr. Pearson being interviewed by the South African Broadcasting Company on the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve
Wildebeests (also called gnus) on the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve
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MUM Executive Vice-President Craig Pearson delivering the commencement address
In South Africa, the tradition at a graduation ceremony is for the commencement speaker to tap the cap of the graduating student with his or her own cap, just before the student receives the diploma
Dr. Taddy Blecher, one of the founders and directors of the Maharishi Institute, speaking to the audience
Some of the proud parents of the graduating students
A Maharishi Institute student receiving her bachelor’s in business degree from Maharishi University of Management. Pictured above: Dr. Bruce McCollum, MUM business faculty member who also attended the ceremony; Dr. Richard Peycke, who along with Dr. Taddy Blecher founded and directs the Maharishi Institute; graduating student; and Dr. Pearson
South Africa’s Maharishi Institute
Graduates First Class
The first group of 27 students enrolled at the Maharishi Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa, graduated in December, with MUM Executive Vice-President Craig Pearson delivering the commencement address and helping award the degrees.
The students received bachelor’s degrees in business from Maharishi University of Management. Students take their initial coursework (86 credits) from faculty at the Institute. Then they enroll with MUM for their final two years of coursework (42 credits), with MUM faculty delivering instruction online.
“I spent two weeks in Johannesburg altogether,” Dr. Pearson said. ”It was among the most inspiring two weeks of my life — I had no idea how moving it would be.”
It was while Dr. Pearson was in South Africa that Nelson Mandela passed away. “I was staying just five blocks from his house,” Dr. Pearson said. ”I felt inspired to be so close to this great man and planned to walk down and see the house and take pictures. Then he passed away — so when I did go there, the streets were filled with people — people of every color and age, people singing in groups, with mountains of flowers and beautiful handwritten notes piled up outside his house. It was extremely moving to be in the country at this time.”
Most Maharishi Institute students come from the impoverished townships around Johannesburg and would not typically have the opportunity to attend college.
Students enroll without cost for the first year and a half — they even receive a small stipend to cover the cost of transportation to and from the Institute, which does not yet offer a residential option. Then students begin a work-study program, such as staffing a call center located at the Institute, to help fund their tuition. They also receive student loans from a local non-profit organization.
The students practice the Transcendental Meditation® technique and learn the TM-Sidhi® program, thereby helping create invincibility for South Africa while also receiving an education. Maharishi Institute currently has 400 students, 180 of whom are practicing Yogic Flying®. The Institute plans to increase enrollment to 1,000 in 2014.
“People from the townships receive an education through high school, but their opportunities for college education are minuscule,” Dr. Pearson said. ”The Maharishi Institute gives high school graduates a college education at no cost. One student told me he would probably be in a gang if not for the Institute. I have spent most of my adult life in Consciousness-Based education and have seen its power to enrich people’s lives — but in South Africa I really saw its power to redirect people’s destinies.”
“These graduates are starting to go into jobs that will enable them to earn far more money than anyone in their families has ever been able to do,” Dr. Pearson said. “They look forward to using their income to support their families — build them better homes, help their brothers and sisters with school, and more.”
The Institute also receives corporate grants — from the Rockefeller Foundation, for example — as well as private donations. “With the recently enacted Black Economic Empowerment program in South Africa, the Maharishi Institute is also now partnering with a rising number of South African companies,” Dr. Pearson said. “These companies are not only giving them stock, as required by the legislation, but are also becoming inspired to donate professional services.”
“The directors of the Maharishi Institute, Dr. Taddy Blecher and Dr. Richard Peycke, and their team are incredibly dedicated, creative, resourceful, and persistent,” Dr. Pearson said. “It was amazing to be in the middle of what they are accomplishing.”
Dr. Pearson sees a growing momentum of success. “The Maharishi Institute provides a model for the future of the country,” he said. “Millions of people in the country are without jobs, while there are millions of jobs without people to fill them. Education is the missing link, and the Maharishi Institute offers an economic and educational model which, when coupled with its Consciousness-Based approach, shows the way toward the future success and well-being of the country.”
And he sees this model spreading. “Maharishi wanted one of these schools in each province in South Africa, and then in each country in Africa,” Dr. Pearson said. “When you go there, you can really see a future in which Africa’s problems begin to dissolve away and the whole continent rises to be a shining, nourishing light for the whole world.”
Dr. Pearson was also the commencement speaker at the first graduation of students at South Africa’s Neotel corporation, a telecommunications firm. At this event, which took place the day before the Maharishi Institute graduation, 10 of the company’s managers received MBA degrees from MUM. These individuals had been taking the University’s MBA program part-time for the past several years.
While in South Africa, Dr. Pearson visited the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, which encompasses more than 4,000 acres and is home to 22 plant communities, more than 286 bird species, and a variety of small and large mammals including zebras, springboks, ostriches, kudus, leopards, aardwolves, and brown hyenas. The reserve was donated to the Maharishi Institute several years ago by the Oppenheimer family of De Beers diamond mining and trading fame.
“The Maharishi Institute holds courses there, including a sustainability program,” Dr. Pearson said. “While we were there, coincidentally a crew from the South African Broadcasting Company came to do a television program on sustainability education at Ezemvelo. When they saw me there, they interviewed me — and, of all things, asked what advice I had for the farmers of South Africa. I encouraged them to shift to organic farming, because this would be healthier for the country and would bring them greater profits as the world market moves increasingly in this direction.”