Meet some of the fantastic people who make up Camphill

Sumin Dai

Sumin is a psychotherapist, a communitarian, and a musician. She came to Triform for a gap year and fell in love with Camphill.

Sumin recently earned a Masters in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania and works in community mental health. Before that, she spent two years volunteering at Triform Camphill community, where she returns regularly for holiday visits to help out, connect with old friends, and make new ones. Sumin is a gifted musician and thinks she may end up back in Camphill someday.

Sumin is from Xiamen, China and did her undergraduate studies in Beijing, where she volunteered at a Waldorf Art Therapy institute for children with autism. It was there that she first heard of Camphill. She decided to travel across the world to take a gap year so she could learn more about handcrafting, spend more time in nature, and experience a different way of life. But it gave her so much more. She discovered in herself a passion for lifesharing and intentional community. She rediscovered her love for creating music.

“I play piano and flute, I sing alto; I’m happy to provide harmony. I started playing when I was very young, around 3 or 5. But I had stopped playing a long time ago. When I came to Camphill, I picked them all up again. I learned many other types of music at Trifrom, and I learned how they can have different effects and purposes. Even though I’ve left, I still practice and am now learning the harmonica.”

And she found a deep appreciation for the moment-to-moment mindfulness that is a part of Camphill life and the ongoing inner growth it cultivates. It helped her build the most essential, the foundational skills that every great therapist must possess.

“The mindfulness comes from knowing that my reaction has a visible effect on people. It comes from being aware of how I think and what I do. I feel like it’s the best way to learn about myself - to think before I act rather than act without considering the consequences. With my background of being an only child, growing up in a city in China, where the emphasis is on studying and academic performance, I hadn’t really learned how to care for other people. I think the most important thing I learned is the self-awareness that I’m able to carry with me.”

At her job in Philadelphia, Sumin meets with individuals and groups for psychotherapy. Camphill inspired her to start listening more to people’s stories. Now she gives her time and attention to help people tell their stories and heal. Before her volunteer experience, Sumin couldn’t imagine herself working with people. She and her whole family thought she’d go into Academia. So it’s not surprising that she finds it pretty funny that now she pays her rent by talking to people.

“One of the best gifts from the experience is my interest in other human beings. Folks with special needs showed me how being true and open and vulnerable can be a powerful thing. It’s empowering.”

Sumin says she may return to Camphill – it’s very clear how deep her love runs and how much the work we do and the way we live resonates with her. Meanwhile, she has become very good friends with some other former Chinese volunteers – there is a growing network of Camphill alumni back in China that she has connected to and it’s only a matter of time before one or more of them starts a Camphill community there. The possibilities are endlessly exciting!



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