Interview by Carole Rosner
Every gifted person has a unique story. The following story is part of a series of posts depicting the many faces of gifted by highlighting gifted children and adults we have found through IEA programs. IEA’s pioneering Yunasa summer camp – mentioned in this story – unites highly able children and experts in the social and emotional development of gifted children and provides an opportunity for campers to explore and grow the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social and physical aspects of their lives.
Matthew lives on the island of Java in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. He is 13 years old, is home schooled and has traveled to Camp Copneconic in Fenton, Michigan, for the last two summers to attend Yunasa.
How did Matthew hear about Yunasa?
Matthew first learned about Yunasa through his mentor. “Mark Lediard has been my mentor for three years now, beginning from the age where I was withdrawn from formal schooling. He and I now meet regularly to discuss opportunities for my enrichment and intellectual expansion, including out-of-country learning and meetings with learned professionals. It was through Mark’s collaboration with a homeschooling curriculum adviser named Kathi Kearney that I learned of Yunasa, and I was quick to jump at the prospect.”
But why Yunasa?
“Indonesia, despite being diverse both culturally and biologically, does not have the inherent essence that Yunasa offers. Although the country does have camps, most are relatively generic when compared to Yunasa; mostly they fall within the categories of academic, ecological, or religious. It can be said that the reason for my participation was to experience these new spiritual aspects that no other camp could seem to offer.”
What has he gained from attending Yunasa?
“Words alone cannot describe the effects Yunasa have had on me; intellectually, socially, physically, and spiritually. I have met people with radically varying perspectives, others with opinions very akin to my own, and those still who have enhanced me and the way I see myself by their personalities and experiences. Here, I found an arena to discuss and debate the theories I hold so dear, and to marvel at the ambitions of others who were driven by that same desire to cultivate humanity.”
What does Matthew like about Yunasa?
“The experience of Yunasa was terrifically structured, and my greatest thanks go to the IEA staff for organizing and providing such a seamless daily schedule. The topics and contributions of the Senior Fellows were invaluable in expanding my intellectual and emotional repertoire and are inspiring to reflect on, especially when considering their many possibilities.”
What part of Yunasa has had the greatest effect on Matthew?
“Although I meditate in my daily life, the concept of psychosynthesis itself intrigued me, and I quickly found out why. In the process, I experienced undoubtedly profound visions of the unified continuum of time; often, I would leave the session pondering my beliefs and what it meant to be there. Frankly, I cannot wait to experience pychosynthesis again next year and see what I may experience.”
What similarities does he find between himself and the other campers?
“I find that in a myriad of ways, we share similar perspectives, interests, and ways of comprehending reality. I can say that I have never felt more assimilated into a community than Yunasa’s gestalt, especially when considering I have lived in a foreign society for all my life. In this way, Yunasa is a sanctuary, a home for me. Even before I arrived, I had an innate knowing of the events to come, as it is an undeniable fact that Yunasa has that powerful quality of making one feel completely and utterly at ease with his surroundings, his peers, and most importantly, his inner beliefs.”
Does Matthew keep in touch with other campers throughout the year?
“As a matter of fact, I regularly keep in touch with my closer friends via email and online sources. They inform me on a constant basis about their current activities and circumstances, and it has happened more than once that we have asked each other for aid on issues that cannot be resolved by only a single perspective. It is an honor to know and communicate with these individuals, and I consider them to be important in my development.”
What does he do in his free time, and where does he see himself in the future?
“Being in the cultural fusion that is Indonesia, I am exposed to a wide variety of people, perspectives, and religions on a daily basis, even within my own household. The most enjoyable pastime is observing how all of these fundamentally different groups cooperate and interact in a common environment, even though many share dividing opinions and views.”
He also enjoys reading and writing, “mainly due to the unbounded creativity that they grant me in shaping myself as an individual. I greatly appreciate the intellectual diversity I gain from books and that I can create with writing. I believe that the greatest gift that is bestowed upon the world is the written word, and the knowledge that stems thereof.”
Like many gifted children, Matthew draws connections between different intellectual and spiritual subjects to make more sense of the world and wants to contribute positively to the world around him. “From a young age, I have expressed an intuitive knowing in the existence of an unseen organizational structure above the chaos of reality, and with it, a pressing need to aid humanity in grasping the concept of realms far beyond their understanding. Over time, this ambition progressed to an interest in the fields of theoretical physics and the philosophy of consciousness, namely Ontology. For as long as this aspiration has stood, I have dedicated my life to the unification of science and spirituality, the empirical and abstract. My purpose, I believe, is to aid humankind in reading what Einstein once termed as ‘The Mind of God.’”
Do you or your children want to share your experiences of being gifted? Please leave us a comment below or email us at IEAgifted@educationaladvancement.org!