The 2010 Report
We thought that 2009 was a busy year... and then came 2010!
As in 2009, during last year we kept records of all the students who joined our courses & retreats throughout the year. We have since analysed those records to give us a more precise understanding of the demographics of those who come here to study Buddha Dharma.
We also thought that it would be interesting to compare these statistics with those we gathered from 2009. For example:
And the same information presented in graph form:
The Hayagriva Retreat
Our 2010 season began with a long-anticipated event - The Most Secret Hayagriva Retreat with Lama Zopa Rinpoche from March 3 - 31. Around 120 long-term students of Lama Zopa's gathered from all over over the world for this unique event, one that had been 15 years in the waiting!
And on the final day - the retreatants were given a a private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama! More can be read about the Hayagriva Retreat here.
As you may notice, the most radical difference between 2009 & 2010 was the inclusion of daily drop-in meditation sessions (Mon-Sat 9:15 – 10:15am). Throughout the year we were so fortunate as to have 2 well qualified meditation leaders on site, and so for the first time, newcomers to meditation could pop in to try it out.
This has had a knock-on effect on all our courses; people who try the meditation sessions and find it to their liking are more likely to join a residential course. It also means that a great deal more people have accessed the facilities here and learned some simple meditation techniques to take home with them.
We kept track of how many people attended every day, so these figures are fairly accurate, however, we must point out that many of these people would have been counted twice or more, depending on how many sessions they attended. Still, we think it a conservative estimate to say that at least 2,000 individuals attended these sessions.
We began the sessions in April and continued until the end of the season in late November. The peaks reflect our peak seasons, April/May/June, and to a lesser extent September and October. The many dips in autumn represent the local teaching dates of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We don’t hold any sessions when He is teaching, and there were several teaching dates in succession.
You’ll notice that things quietened down in late June, which is normal since it is monsoon season, but picked up a lot again in late July and August. Our theory is that the terrible flooding in Ladakh impeded the travel plans of many, who then decided to stay in McLeod and meditate.
A similar pattern can be seen in our records for the number of people who attended our drop-in twice weekly Movie Day screenings (Mondays and Fridays at 2pm)
Tushita's Student Diversity!
We thought it would be interesting to look at how many different nationalities had attended courses at Tushita during the 2 years we’d been keeping records – the answer – 66!
Student Participation, by Course
Student participation on courses and retreats in 2010, by percentage.
As you'll notice, more than half the students in 2010 were here on Residential "Introduction to Buddhism" courses, but equally, almost half were not!
Although the Introduction courses are the staple of Tushita's programme, we also put a lot of effort into making our schedule of interest to those who have different areas of interest, practice or commitment to the many life-enriching elements Buddhism has to offer.
The variety ranges between our popular 1 or 2 day Non-Residential Courses to our annual Pre-Ordination Course (POC)! The POC was considered so valuable for those about to make Monastic vows, that His Holiness the Dalai Lama made Tushita's course a pre-requisite for those wishing to ordain with Him.
Our commitment to making authentic Buddhist Teachings more accessible seems to be working!
2010 by Nationality
Here is the breakdown of how many people from each nationality joined each particular kind of Residential course or retreat (we don’t take records of nationality, gender, age etc from students on Non-Residential Courses).
So, 1243 students from 59 different countries took part in our courses and retreats in 2010, with just over half of these on “Introduction to Buddhism” courses.
“Tantric Retreats” includes the Hayagriva Retreat with Lama Zopa Rinpoche, which was a unique event for Tushita.
Here is the same information, presented as percentages of the total.
2010 by Age
Next we looked at age ranges of students on Introduction to Buddhism courses.
This graph of course illustrates the overall rise in student numbers; the age range (youngest student aged 17, oldest 80) was almost exactly the same.
This shows that 58% of students who attended our "Introduction to Buddhism" courses in 2010 were under 30.
29% were aged between 31 and 40, while 13% were aged over 40.
2010 by Gender
The gender division was also relatively unchanged:
Changes in student demographics between 2009 and 2010
Although the same nationalities dominated in both years, we noticed some big changes in numbers, with Israel and the UK dropping, and a large increase in numbers of students from Canada and India.
We hope that these figures will give you a sense of how Tushita has been keeping busy!
2010 was a very rich, busy and fulfilling year, and it is very heartening to see that we have grown so much in this 12 month period.
So many thanks to all our Teachers and Meditation Leaders in 2010; Glen Svensson, Andy Wistreich, Jimi Neal, Sister Jotika, Ven. Rita Riniker, Mark Smith, Richard Meijers, Tim Van der Haegen, and our Guest Teacher, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo for providing such a rich and diverse texture to the year. And last, but definitely not least, our Resident Teacher in 2010, Venerable Robina Courtin.
Without their generosity, discipline, patience, energy, meditation experience and wisdom, more than 6,000 people would not have been able to explore Buddhist wisdom in such inspiring circumstances.
Our local staff keep Tushita functioning in a stable environment and we depend on their loyalty and hard work every year. In addition, Tushita has an ongoing need for willing volunteers. In 2010, many people brought enthusiasm, creativity, initiative and plain old hard work and helped Tushita fulfill her aim of providing a friendly and conducive environment for people of all nationalities and backgrounds to learn about and put into practice the teachings of the Buddha.
Thanks above all go to all our students and visitors. Everybody here at Tushita finds their interest, determination, and openness truly inspiring, we thank them for their support in the thriving of Tushita and the increased accessibility of authentic Dharma to all. We sincerely hope and pray that their experience here will continue to enrich their lives, and in consequence, those of all beings.