Weston Buddhist Center Celebrates 10th Anniversary

May 30, 2006

Source: The Miami Herald


On May 30, 2006 The Miami Herald reported, "At 14, Sydney Ramgolam is trying to find enlightenment. When she chants nam-myoho-renge-kyo, she relaxes and puts her life in perspective. She ponders what she needs to do that day, how she will achieve those things, and strives for self-improvement. 'With Buddhism, if you want something, you have to work at it,' said Sydney, an incoming sophomore at Boyd Anderson High School in Fort Lauderdale. `You aren't allowed to let yourself settle.' Sydney, along with thousands of South Floridians, is a member of Soka Gakkai International USA, an American Buddhist organization that runs facilities around the world, including the Florida Nature & Culture Center in Weston. The center opened on 125 undeveloped acres in Weston 10 years ago this summer, moving from a small meeting space with a window-mounted air conditioner and peeling wallpaper behind Loehmann's retail store in what is now Aventura. About 2,200 local members -- nearly twice the statewide number of a decade ago -- can celebrate the anniversary Saturday at an open house featuring information sessions in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and a performance by musician and fellow Buddhist Nestor Torres. The celebration continues Aug. 27, with a Hispanic culture festival. Frail saplings planted a decade ago are now providing shade and a place for members to reflect. Their Weston campus boasts 11 buildings, including a conference center, dining hall, gymnasium, dormitories, outdoor amphitheater, swimming pool and a 1,000-seat Friendship Auditorium. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, local membership spiked, said Ellen Soto, South Florida region director for SGI-USA."