by Christine Albers at Enlightenment Magazine, Interview with Daniela Hillman, Maharishi School Boarding Student from Mexico
Daniela Robles Hillman is busy packing. Today is her last day in Fairfield, Iowa, after spending her sophomore year as a boarding student at Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (MSAE).
The 30 students who participated in the boarding school program this year came from China, Mexico, Germany, India, South Carolina, California, and New York. Rather than staying in a dormitory, these students from other countries and states live with meditating host families from the Fairfield community. Joining MSAE students from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and Gambia who already live in Fairfield with their families, students from 30 countries now attend Maharishi School, creating a rich, multi-cultural environment that truly expresses the motto, “The world is my family.”
“It’s a good day to be interviewed,” Daniela tells me, “It’s a day to remember everything about this wonderful year.”
Monica Robles, Daniela’s mother, helps her carry a huge silver suitcase downstairs, and they sit to rest on the red sofa. Monica took time off from her position as Congresswoman for the state of Vera Cruz, Mexico, to accompany Daniela on her trip back home. Daniela’s two sisters and her father, Ivan Hillman, Director of the Water Commission for five states in Mexico, are eager to see her.
Here Daniela and her mother reflect on Daniela’s year as a boarding student.
Christine Albers: Monica, why did you choose Maharishi School for Daniela?
Monica Robles: I heard about MSAE from a friend who practices the Transcendental Meditation technique. He sent his daughter here for her freshman year, and they were very happy with her experience. I wanted Daniela to learn to meditate and to have that tool for the rest of her life.
After 10 months, I see a lot of changes in Daniela. She’s more confident and she laughs more.
Christine: Daniela, what were you looking for at Maharishi School?
Daniela Hillman: Some high school students in Mexico can take a year off to have an international experience. Two years ago, my older sister went to London, and then it was my turn. I was very interested in Maharishi School because the students meditate at school every day, and it helps them to learn.
Christine: What kind of changes have you noticed?
Daniela: I learned to meditate the first week of school. As soon as I started Transcendental Meditation, I could engage more in activity because I was more rested. I could experience life on a deeper level. Meditation has given me this feeling of tranquility that I hardly experienced before. It has helped me become calmer and find mental and emotional stability. I think I’ve become much more responsible and mature.
Christine: What was the best part of being here?
Daniela: I met a lot of amazing people, including so many international students. I learned to relate to different kinds of people and now I have a wider perspective.
Christine: What activities did you participate in?
Daniela: I was a cheerleader, sang in the choir, and played volleyball, but my favorite part was the creative writing elective. I like to write, and my teacher was great.
Christine: How is MSAE different from school in Mexico?
Daniela: When I came here I noticed that everyone in general was a lot nicer to each other. In my other school there weren’t big problems, but there were certain groups. At MSAE there’s more integration, and everyone gets along. It’s a great environment to be in, really happy and friendly.
Christine: Why do you think that is?
Daniela: I think it’s the meditation. I see changes in myself and the way I interact with people. I feel more at peace, more blissful. I think all of us students have had a similar experience of easiness that puts us in a better mood and makes it easier to be ourselves.
Christine: How were your classes?
Daniela: Academically, my teachers at MSAE were excited about their subjects, and they encouraged us to put our best into what we were doing. With the Science of Creative Intelligence course, which I never had before, our teacher helped us see the relationship between ourselves and what we were studying.
Christine: Monica, would you recommend this school for your younger daughter?
Monica: I would love my younger daughter to also come to MSAE. I like the deep approach, related not just to isolated knowledge—but to life itself. The meditation would benefit her a lot if she can incorporate it into her life.
I would have loved to learn to meditate when I was at such a young age. So I’m very happy to have my daughters experience this now.
Christine: What do you think about your sister coming here, Daniela?
Daniela: If my younger sister decides to come here it would be beneficial for her. I know that she has an idea of what she wants to make out of her life. I think if she incorporates the TM technique into whatever she does, it will help her get more out of it. If she comes to MSAE, she would like it because people are so welcoming. She would get the experience of being with many different kinds of people and she could learn a lot from that.
Christine: Will you continue meditating when you return to Mexico?
Daniela: I would like to continue meditating because I feel better when I do. I enjoy the experience of transcending and want to get the most out of my life.
Christine: I’ve been hosting two boarding students myself and I know how close we’ve become. What was it like for you to live with a Fairfield family?
Daniela: One of the highlights of this entire year was living with my amazing host family, the Labaghs. They made me feel at home. We managed to work out our different personalities. We were respectful of each other’s space, and we also spent a lot of time together. I really love my host mother, Donna. We have many interests in common. Now that I’m about to leave I’m sad because I’m so fond of my host family, but that’s part of the experience.
Christine: Is there anything else you would like to say, Monica?
Monica: I would like to thank Dani’s host mother, Donna, and her daughter, Veronica, and Sammy the dog. Daniela felt loved and taken care of, and we hope that we see them again soon.
Overall, I’m very happy about Daniela’s experience at Maharishi School and the changes I see in her. I also want to learn the TM technique when I get back to Mexico. I think it’s something we should do as a family.
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