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Albert recalls his first experience walking into the Buddhist Temple of Chicago, describing the imposing yet intricately designed doors that symbolized the beginning of his journey. Upon entering, he was struck by the diverse and down-to-earth community, challenging his expectations of a predominantly Asian congregation. The fact that the reverend was a female resonated with Albert, emphasizing the equal respect in Buddhism. Curiosity led Albert to explore the temple's teachings, appreciating the absence of emotional manipulation and the focus on understanding oneself and fostering interconnectedness. The chants, like the golden chain, and the absence of labels provided a liberating experience. Albert delved into Buddhism's varied forms, including Pure Land Buddhism, which allowed him the freedom to be himself and practice responsibility without conforming to specific rules.


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William, a combat veteran with a diverse background, is deeply connected to his roots despite being far from them. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, to a Protestant minister grandfather and a missionary grandmother, he was exposed to various cultures during his travels with his grandmother to places like Central and South America, Pakistan, and more. His journey into Buddhism began while traveling with his grandmother as a missionary. Despite initially considering following in his grandfather's religious footsteps, William found himself drawn to Buddhism. This interest deepened during his time in the military, where he sought solace in Buddhism's teachings while enduring challenging training.

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