San Salvador, El Salvador—An educator and bestselling author from South Korea, Ilchi Lee, was given the national award, José Simeón Cañas Slave Liberator Order, at the El Salvador Ministry of Foreign Affairs on September 12 at 10:30 AM local time. The award recognized the emotional resilience and culture of peace his Brain Education method brought to gang-violent schools throughout the country.
In a speech before the main award ceremony, Ilchi Lee thanked the 250 public school principals in attendance for their tremendous support for Brain Education. He credits the event to their determined and unwavering efforts to bring peace and wellness to their students.
Ilchi Lee receives award from El Salvador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carlos Castaneda.
Brain Education is a five-step mind-body method that includes brain exercises, meditation, and mindfulness that enable people to use the latent power of their brains to create internal health, happiness and peace regardless of outer circumstances. By helping individuals manage their emotions and feel greater empathy and mental clarity, Brain Education improves interpersonal relationships and fosters positive, peaceful communities.
Brain Education was brought to El Salvador by the IBREA Foundation, an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations ECOSOC that was founded by Ilchi Lee. After attending an IBREA-led conference on Brain Education at the UN headquarters in New York City in 2011, the Ambassador of El Salvador asked IBREA to start a pilot project at a school in Distrito Italia, one of the most socio-politically violent neighborhoods situated just outside of the capital of San Salvador. The school was facing a rampant gang problem that was terrorizing the students and teachers.
The four-month project, which included a group of 39 students aged 14 to 16 and 20 teachers, initially met with much resistance from the students and staff. However, as the students and teachers gained a connection to their bodies and minds with the meditation techniques taught in Brain Education, their attitudes started to change positively. Absenteeism was cut in half, peer relationships improved, and peaceful dialogue increased over fighting. Improvements were also seen in health condition, energy level, stress management, motivation and focus.
Soon, teachers, students, community members, and the government learned of the success of Brain Education in transforming what was deemed an “impossible” and “hopeless” school. In 2012, the Ministry of Education asked IBREA to expand the program to four more schools. With the help of the Ministry of Education of South Korea and the Global Cyber University in South Korea, the IBREA Foundation brought the program to 12 groups of teachers and students in four schools.
One of these schools was a notoriously violent one: Joaquin Redezno. Gloria Müller, the school’s principal, said that after taking on the role of principal, “I was able to secure the safety of the students. But after that I did not know how to tell these kids how to live. At that time, Brain Education came to our school and taught the students how to live by utilizing their brain.”
After seeing similarly positive results in these schools as Distrito Italia, more school administrators and community members worked to spread Brain Education to other schools in El Salvador. By the next year, through a partnership with the Salvadorian Institute of Educator’s Wellbeing (ISBM), IBREA Foundation was providing the Brain Education program to 230 principals and teachers annually, as well as to medical doctors, psychologists and other staff who serve educators. It also certified educators as Brain Education trainers who helped to bring the program to other schools. Now, seven years after it was first brought to El Salvador, Brain Education has been implemented in 1,340, or approximately 25%, of all public schools in the country.
The Principal of Francisco Morazan School, Edis Margoth Cañas de Amaya, herself found relief through Brain Education. “I had witnessed my sister die from the hands of gang members, and a few days later, her daughter was decapitated. Needless to say, I was under immense stress and trauma, and Brain Education gave me the tools to overcome this horrible situation.”
Soon after the main award ceremony, Ilchi Lee met with Salvadoran President Salvador Sánchez Cerén and discussed Brain Education with him and also with ambassadors to El Salvador from Honduras, Panama and Argentina.
Lee hopes that more schools in El Salvador can experience a peaceful change in their school environments through Brain Education and believes that El Salvador can become the symbol of peace in Central America.
About Ilchi Lee
Ilchi Lee is an impassioned visionary, educator, mentor, and innovator. He has dedicated his life to helping people harness their creative power and potential. He has developed many successful mind-body training methods, including Body & Brain Yoga and Brain Education. Lee is a New York Times bestselling author of over 40 books and a well-respected humanitarian who founded the Earth Citizen Movement and works with the United Nations and other organizations for global peace. Lee serves as the president of the University of Brain Education and the IBREA Foundation.
About IBREA Foundation
IBREA Foundation was established as a non-profit organization in the United States in 2008, with the vision of raising awareness of the great value of the human brain and unleashing its capacity to create the world we all wish to see. It does this through educational programs and seminars on brain-based holistic education methods that include body movement, stretching, meditation, breathing, artistic expression, group work, and community action, among others. These methods are applied through projects in different countries, such as El Salvador, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Philippines, and Costa Rica. As an NGO with Special Consultative Status in the UN ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council), IBREA strives to offer its program as a tool to advance the United Nation goals of development and peace.