May 04, 2013 by Yugen
We pride ourselves on being an internationally-minded Zen Center, but even we were surprised when we realized that of our 8 current residents, there were 7 different nationalities. Going from left to right, top to bottom, we have Sara (Japan), Susan (USA), Kate (Canada), Enguetsu (Brazil), Jokai (Wales), Hina (India), Hakujo (USA) and me (England).
Most people think of us as the local Zen center, or perhaps just one of the local Zen centers around Southern California. However, many people travel a long way to be here and take part in the training. Jokai and I came in on religious workers visas (albeit 8 years apart), and we are both now green card holders, having been in the country for long enough to apply successfully for permanent residency. Kate is now on the same religious workers (R-1) visa, as is Sara, who arrived earlier this week. The R-1 visa is designed for people whose sole purpose to be in the country is religious employment and/or functioning. Many thanks to Dean Doju Levay, a retired US immigration judge who has been a massive help in preparing the lengthy paperwork required to apply for the visas.
One other thing you may notice, is that we now have more female residents than male. Having checked with Tenshin Roshi, we think this may be a new and welcomed historical precedent at Yokoji.
We are close to the end of the Spring Training Period. One more week to go and then we enter the final sesshin from May 12th-19th. Hope to see you there!