by Christine Albers, Director of Expansion
When Oprah Winfrey walked through the doors of Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment on Wednesday, October 19th, I knew I would remember that day for a long time. For several weeks, her Harpo Productions film crew was at the school interviewing students. Rumors circulated that perhaps Oprah might make an appearance, but nothing was certain.
When she actually arrived, it was momentous. The shiny black SUV pulled up inside the school fence, drove along the sidewalk and stopped. Faculty and administrators peered out their office and classroom windows to catch a glimpse of this woman who has touched so many lives.
There she was, Oprah Winfrey, stepping out of her SUV, adjusting her sweater. Is it really her, I wondered? Yes, it was—one of the most famous and powerful women in the world, at little Maharishi School. Dr. Richard Beall, School Head, greeted her. When she saw the school’s name, “Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment,” engraved above the door, she told Richard, “I always wanted to help create an Age of Enlightenment, but I didn’t know how.”
Bob Daniels, Chairman of the School Board, attended a brief “Meet and Greet” with Oprah, where she said, “How have you kept this school a secret for so long? Well, it won’t be a secret any longer. “
She walked up the center staircase to observe the Lower School children practice their walking meditation. Then she went to the Hall of Bliss to see the 5th through 12th grade girls meditating. She closed her eyes and meditated with them. When her cameraman zoomed in on her, she waved him away. This was a moment for her to relax, too.
Afterward she spoke to the girls. Kai-Li Diyaljee, a 6th grade student, remembers what Oprah said: "You're helping the world. You're raising consciousness in the world. There are so many people talking about raising consciousness, and you guys are living it. So, YAY for you!" (applause!)
Teachers and staff members gathered in the lobby to greet Oprah as she was leaving. A crew member warned us that Oprah was on a tight schedule, and not to be disappointed if she didn’t talk and visit with us or shake our hands. But when the great woman appeared we were thrilled that she took the time to shake every single person’s hand. And then she stayed a few more moments to address our group.
“Here are our teachers,” she exclaimed. “I love teachers.”
“Teachers can change lives,” she said. “It was my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Duncan, who changed my life and helped me become the person I am today. So I always honor teachers.“
She continued, “Who knew that there was a school in Iowa based on consciousness? I’ve done a lot of TV shows and often feel like it’s stepping backwards. With you guys, it’s a giant leap forward. My whole life I’ve been trying to raise awareness and help people live better lives. You guys are doing this. This is a dream come true to see a school based on consciousness. It’s a very special day to actually see it.”
When all the faculty and staff applauded, Oprah motioned to the group and said,
“THANK YOU! You should celebrate yourselves. I’m clapping for you.”
So we all clapped. We clapped for her, she clapped for us, and we concluded with an uplifting wave of mutual love and appreciation. This one woman who can change the world left with a promise, “The TV show will make people aware of Maharishi School. We will fill the school with students. The world needs to know about you.”
At right: Watch Dr. Oz's interview of Oprah in which she describes her experience in "TM Town"