Fairfield (IA) Ledger
By DIANE VANCE, Ledger staff writer | Oct 20, 2011
“It was a tremendous honor to have Oprah Winfrey here even for a brief visit,” said Richard Beall, director of Maharishi School. “We’ve been in communication for some time about this visit; it’s hard to believe it’s actually happened.”
Oprah came to the kindergarten through 12th grade private school around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on a planned visit. She brought an entourage of film and production crews.
Fairfield Police Chief Julie Harvey said Oprah’s visit included her trip to Maharishi School, a visit to the campus of Vedic scholars (the pundits in Maharishi Vedic City), a visit to a private residence, coffee at Cafe´ Paradiso and meditating in the women’s dome. She left Fairfield airport about 6:30 p.m.
Beall escorted Oprah around Maharishi School to the places she had indicated an interest in visiting. The crews mostly went separate, pre-assigned ways, he said.
“She had an opportunity to watch the children’s meditation,” said Beall. “Then she participated in meditation with older students.
“She talked briefly with all of the high school students, boys and girls. She selected a few students to interview more closely,” said Beall. “All together, she interviewed about 10 students.”
Beall said a lot of cameras were around, but they all belonged to Oprah’s people. It was Oprah’s request to not have publicity about her visit.
“I was so busy, I didn’t really think about photos,” said Beall. “If Oprah’s people release any of the photos, then we’ll have some.”
All MSAE staff were told not to bring cameras or gifts to school, another source reported.
“She’s an absolutely remarkable person,” said Beall. “She’s clearly passionate – and compassionate of others.”
Oprah left the school around 1 p.m.
About three hours later, she was seen around Fairfield’s square.
“My wife Linda and I were driving over to pick up The Ledger in the late afternoon,” said Ralph Messerli this morning by phone. “We saw a commotion, a bunch of people clustered on the sidewalk near George’s Pizza. My wife said, ‘that looks like Oprah!’ and I said, ‘yeah, right.’
“We saw a parking space and started to pull in. Police Chief Julie Harvey was standing nearby and motioned us to go ahead and pull in,” said Messerli. “Then I see a gal who looks like Oprah. It was Oprah! She was talking with Fairfield folks, shaking hands and letting people take pictures with her.”
The Messerlis stayed in their car, observing.
“After she took some pictures, she walked over to our car, stuck her hand in to shake ours,” said Messerli. “We said some nice things and chatted briefly. It was pretty informal.”
Messerli said they don’t watch the Oprah show normally, but have caught a few now and then.
“She’s certainly made her impact,” he said. “She’s quite a lady.”
Married Maharishi University of Management students, Baruti and Mina KMT-Sisouvong had taken an afternoon walk and stopped at Cafe´ Paradiso about 4:15 p.m.
“I ordered a wonderful organic, raw, chocolate cheese cake,” said Baruti by phone today. “My wife and I sat down to enjoy our coffee and cake – and in walked Oprah.”
Two bodyguards and a few staff accompanied her.
“She saw my sweatshirt and made a connection,” said Baruti.
He was wearing a Morehouse College, Atlanta, sweatshirt.
“She let out a ‘Moor-house’ in the way it’s said around campus,” said Baruti. “She got it right. It was fun. We talked a little about Morehouse College, my awards from there and my mentors, Dr. Franklin and Dr. Carter. Oprah asked Mina and I how we came to be in Fairfield.”
Baruti is a doctoral candidate and Mina is in the graduate program to earn a master’s degree in Vedic Science at M.U.M.
“One of the nice things about Fairfield is people are very respectful here,” said Baruti. “Who ever we might see around town, we stay respectful. Those of us at Cafe´ Paradiso got to have a little time, sharing afternoon coffee.
“Oprah sat down, people came up to speak with her and she was very friendly and welcoming. She ate and drank, and visited. It was very nice.
“Later, I talked about the experience with Tom Morgan, who was also there,” said Baruti. “It’s a little strange to admire someone for some time, then meet her casually in everyday life. I’m getting ready to call my mentors in Atlanta and share with them.”
An M.U.M. employee shared her experience in an email Wednesday night:
“I walked [along the sidewalk to the dome for evening meditation] behind Oprah tonight. I didn’t realize it was her until she turned around near the gate and greeted us.
‘Hi ladies,’ she said. ‘Are you coming here from work? From home?’
Some of us responded ‘work,’ others ‘home.’
‘Work? Home? Homework?’ Oprah said, then laughed.
We were all going to the women’s Golden Dome, a meditation hall here at M.U.M. Oprah recently learned Transcendental Meditation and wanted to experience meditating together with hundreds of women, so she joined us.
It was a very sweet experience. The room seemed to be filled with more love and bliss than usual.
My daughter, 19, especially enjoyed being there. It seems the younger generation were more excited about having her here; the college-aged were chatting away animatedly about it.
My daughter’s comment afterwards, ‘I got to meditate with Oprah in the dome and my sister didn’t. I’m gonna rub it in her face!’
See this earlier post where: Oprah says she and her staff meditate, enjoy a Quiet Time twice a day—Facebook Live interview
Other reports of Oprah’s visit to Fairfield include:
KTVO: Oprah and her jet land in southeast Iowa | Oprah Jets into Fairfield and Meditates | Oprah Winfrey Meditated in Fairfield Iowa tonight with other Transcendental Meditation Meditators | associated content from Yahoo | The Associated Press: Chicago Tribune: Oprah travels to Iowa school for group meditation |KGAN CBS 2 News: Oprah travels to Iowa school for group meditation|Washington Examiner | The Republic: Oprah travels to Iowa school for group meditation, talks to students about spiritual journey, includes a Comment by Jean Welch Tobin: Oprah was so appreciative and eloquent about Transcendental Meditation. She commented on her experience of practicing the TM technique with close to 500 other women – over 2000 people if you consider everyone in the community. She said, “That was amazing, that was truly amazing!” | The Washington Post: Oprah Winfrey meditates with women in Iowa, talks to students about her spiritual journey | The Huffington Post: Winfrey meditates with women during Iowa visit | WHO-TV: OPRAH VISIT: Oprah travels to Iowa school for group meditation | TheCelebrityCafe.com: Oprah meditates in Iowa, and more.
The Fairfield Weekly Reader, October 27 – November 2, 2011. Oprah visits the Fairfield Square
“It was great to spend time with Oprah. She is so excited about Fairfield and the peaceful energy she felt while here.”
—filmmaker Zappy Zapolin
Here’s a PDF of a follow-up article in the Nov 23, 2011 Fairfield Ledger: Oprah’s network to air Fairfield footage.
Here’s a link to a report in the MUM Review: Oprah Visits Campus; Program to Air Early Next Year on OWN.
Here’s a report in the Maharishi School News: Oprah Winfrey Visits Maharishi School
Some Reports on Dr. Oz’s Interview with Oprah about TM and her Next Chapter.
Follow-up piece in the Fairfield Ledger, March 19, 2012: Oprah’s Fairfield show set to air Sunday night
See NPR: Fairfield, Iowa: Where ‘Art Belongs To Everyone’