That’s the only word that best sums up our East West 2012 seminar – amazing!

While our annual seminars are always great and well received, somehow this one was quite exceptional. Everything seemed to coalesce beautifully – students, teachers, food, setting, classes, guest instructors – you name it, it worked! When all of us at East West compared notes, we agreed about this year’s stellar seminar and felt quite inspired by our attendees’ enthusiasm, appreciation and genuine heartfelt presence. You, the East West Family, are the best ever!

Perhaps one of the elements that helped was a new idea this year: to have our guest speakers, Efrem Korngold and Harriet Beinfield, teach Five Element theory to the entire group on our first day together. As we split into breakout groups to discuss our element types (or brag about them – you know who you are!), we bonded beyond class levels and newbies/oldies. This was such a terrific way to begin the seminar that I plan to schedule an all-group class at the beginning of each next seminar as possible. What better way to get to know each other from the start?

sem12treesWe also offered several spontaneous classes this year. One, the lunchtime herb walks, were so popular that we will need to coordinate more, smaller groups next year. Another new installment was the "Open Mike-ael" evening (my corny name for it – sorry!) that featured a local teashop owner who not only taught us about teas and inspired some to open their own tea shops back home, but also served several delicious teas throughout the night. This was followed by our very own Jerry Angelini, who generously shared his inspiring expertise on medicinal mushrooms. It was a special night indeed!

Another spontaneous class, "Michael Says," highlighted individual students sharing their various areas of knowledge. Everyone like this so much, that next year we’ll give you some advance notice so you can prepare something to bring and share for 5-10 minutes. I find the best learning is from each other, for truly we are all each other’s teachers.

And as if that were not enough, we were fortunate to have excellent guest teachers K.P. Khalsa and Robert Campbell share their wisdom with every group throughout the week.

As a result of this super week, the newly bonded foundation class is staying in touch throughout the year to help each other study, while the intermediate group has threatened to break the mold for advanced groups and be the best ever (we look forward to that!). It was also joyful to share our advanced students’ excitement and relief as they graduated. We look forward to our continued association through mentoring, practitioner classes and perhaps even teaching.

Many commented on Jill’s gift for picking roommates and want to know her secret. Through the years, she seems to always pair people perfectly, creating lasting friendships and study buddies. Well, I wish I could reveal her secret here, but you’ll just have to find it out from her. All I know is that whatever she does, it works brilliantly!

One outcome of the seminar, among new Facebook and study groups, is that Miles Coleman will now offer one materia medica webinar a month. This is a terrific way to study throughout the year. There is so much material to cover in one week and only so much time, that this extends your opportunity to learn in depth and cover more material. Stay posted for the first one, to be announced soon.

As always I take into account all that you share about what you liked best along with your ideas and suggestions so I can plan the best seminar possible for you next year. We are here to serve you and herbal medicine AND to have a blast while doing so. I think this year proved that it’s possible. Many thanks to all of YOU who came to learn, study, teach and share, which is what truly made it such an exceptional East West seminar year!


Photos courtesy of Jessica Young

What a sensational seminar we had this year! Everything seemed to click and come together perfectly. We had created several new changes and all were received successfully. We had more people than ever with a huge practitioner track added in this year, several guest teachers presented exceptional classes, and even the weather cooperated when the sunniest, warmest day of the week sparkled on our new garden party day.

Foundation students read tongues and pulses

Several people attended from afar this year -- Japan, Singapore and Trinidad. The Foundation students came well prepared with a solid base knowledge of herbs, diet and theory. Although this is not necessary, it was obvious they had done their reading and were actively involved with herbs. The Intermediate students soaked up lots of case studies, herbs and formulas, while the Advanced track not only worked hard in clinic, but found time to celebrate their progress and graduation a few times during the week.

2011 East West graduates

Anne de Courtenay and Ben ZappinThe new garden party we added this year was a huge success! All the teachers and students gathered in our home gardens to socialize, ask questions and eat yet another delicious lunch prepared by our chef -- acupuncturist and herbalist Ben Zappin -- with his new assistant this year, our very own Anne de Courtenay -- course graduate, editor (of our new course to come out this summer), creator of the monthly e-news and manager of our website (in other words, a true mistress of many trades).

I added the garden party in response to your past requests to create a time when students could socialize with and ask teachers questions outside of normal class and meal time. See, I listen to you and your ideas!!!

Sydney BarthellAnother wonderful addition was the presentation of our seminar poetess, advanced student Sydney Barthell. She read one of her many insightful poems every day and inspired many students to write their own stanzas after the seminar. One of these, "Raccoon Time: A Lesson from Rock," is posted in the private student forum, and was written by intermediate track student, Mark Dieve. Definitely go read this wonderful tale about his experience preparing for and experiencing our annual closing Medicine Wheel Ceremony. (I hope Sydney will post some of her fabulous poems there as well -- hint, hint!)

This year during our annual party night we coupled herbal charades with an herbal product contest. Amazing products were submitted this year, including edible cosmetics by Jerry Angelini and two stellar herbal beers by Foundation student Kristi Shapla, which Michael is still enjoying to this day! It was such a successful evening that everyone voted to do this again next year (which may or may not include the wild and rowdy after party!).

Michael Tierra takes Johnny's pulseSo start dreaming up your products for next year's contest. We may judge such aspects as the best overall product, best label and presentation, best tasting, most effective and so on. As well, be sure to tell me any ideas/desires for guest speakers or special topics that you want covered next year. I definitely listen to your comments and try to incorporate your desires so we continue to make our East West Seminar the best it can be each year. And this year definitely hit that mark -- thanks to all of YOU.

Here are just a few comments about this year's seminar:

"What a wonderful thing you have going there, Michael and Lesley; I sincerely hope it continues for a long time." S.B.

"East West is more than a school -- it's a family!" J.K.

"I loved the seminar and the location is amazing. I felt there was a lot of great information and because it was such a quality program I will attend again next year. I feel that every teacher was knowledgeable and communicated well." J.S.

"This was my favorite year. The instructors were supportive and informative, my classmates were stellar, and the food was impeccable!" R.D.

Jerry does cupping on Kevin

Photos by Lesley Tierra and Foundation student Johanna-Maria Wagner.

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