Windward Students Head For India To Study Jainism

Posted: 07.07.2008
Updated on: 12.11.2010


Sarah Hadmack provides an independent study course for those interested in Jainism.

Photo: Tara Severns

Four WCC students are among a select group chosen worldwide for a month-long, expenses-paid study tour in India.

Students Jonna Manatad and Jennifer Pedroso Lett have been accepted to participate in the 2008 International Summer School for Jain Studies from May 31 through June 30. Amber Long and Shelby Carlos are preparing for the 2009 program.

“I am so excited for them because I know they are about to embark on a life-changing journey,” said their teacher, WCC religion instructor Sarah Hadmack.

Jainism is one of the oldest of the three major religions that have developed on the Indian sub-continent. It is based on the principles of non-violence, non-possession, self-control and strenuous effort in pursuit of spiritual goals.

The ISSJS provides a link between the Jain community and the academic world. The study of Jainism is an underdeveloped area of research, and the ISSJS is working to rectify this by fostering an interest in universities around the world.

For the month they are there, the students will take classes from Indian scholars, monks and nuns. They will visit places of historical and religious interest, including temples, forts and the Taj Mahal.

Students will experience Indian culture, visit with indigenous families, study Indian languages and observe or participate in rituals—the list goes on and on.

“I’m really looking forward to the cultural experience,” says Manatad. “I’m working toward a bachelor’s in religious studies, and I thought this would be a great addition to my resume.”

Sarah Hadmack, WCC religion instructor and lecturer at UH-Manoa, is helping the students to get the most out of the trip. She offers a three-credit independent study of Jainism, where the students meet once a week.

“The summer program is free for advanced undergraduates students and for all accepted graduate students,” says Hadmack. “I participated in as a graduate student in 2005, returned in 2007 as an alumni scholar, and now am a member of the academic council that reviews the applicants and decides who is qualified to participate.”

Hadmack knows the ropes and has many suggestions for students wishing to get involved, such as taking either religion 150 or 202. “I learned about the program from Sarah,” said Manatad. “She is a great teacher and she inspired me to apply for the program.”

Manatad knows being away from home won’t be easy but says her family is there to support her.

“The hardest part is going to be leaving my daughter behind,” adds Manatad. “She is almost two and my mother will be watching after her. I really don’t know what I would do without my mom - she is always there for me.”

After working closely with the applicants, Hadmack knows they are up for the challenge.

“I’m really proud of all their hard work in learning about an understudied faith,” she says. “The students participating in the independent study this semester are very bright and highly motivated.

“They have the qualities necessary to be successful and to get the most out of their ISSJS India experience: curiosity, an open mind, critical thinking and analysis skills, and determination.”

If you are intrigued and want to know more, you can visit the ISSJS website at or email Hadmack at minis(at) She said other students can still apply for the 2009 program.

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