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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008


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We've been home for longer than we were gone, and I really feel like this isn't real, like I left my life behind at swagat overour last meal of daal bhat, like I can't possibly function without another mo-mo or cup of milk tea, and yet I do. This fall I changed far more than Iever expected. But rather than make me feel different, it made me feel likeI had become something thatI was always meant to be, so much more real. Nepal is a beautiful cocoon for a teenage girl, and butterflies like to fly. I'm not flying. My life is wonderful; I have great friends and many luxuries. Unfortunately luxuries are nothing compared to the jammed streets of kathmandu, and the toothless grin of a sadhu at pashupatinath temple. I prefer the feeling of dirt under my nails than polish on them, and fresh yogurt is better than yoplait. With my new view of hard work, and something to be motivated to achieve I am currently working hard to afford to send myself back to Asia. I plan to continue this incomplete journey as soon as possible. I wonder how the rest of you feel at this point. Where have you found yourself after three months home? Are you setting out on new adventures? Or have you learned to treat home more like traveling by exploring yourself and your own area more (something thatI am struggling with)? Have your goals changed? I am excited to see where the next year takes me, hopefully with more traveling and starting college. I hope that you are all as excited as me.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Reflections on home.

Chrissy,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

We’ve been home for longer than we were gone, and I really feel like this isn’t real, like I left my life behind at swagat overour last meal of daal bhat, like I can’t possibly function without another mo-mo or cup of milk tea, and yet I do. This fall I changed far more than […]

Posted On

03/23/09

Author

Chrissy

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    [post_content] => Nepal, you gave me so much. So much freedom, and joy, and frustration. Working in Sabin's shop making metal into beautiful things, and my hands intobeautiful tools, you gave me art. Sitting in my candle-lit kitchen making mo-mos with my family of strangers, you gave me a home. On the floor of that little house in Chowkati, I ate roasted soy beans and popcorn, and even though I didn't always know what was being said to me, you gave me understanding. You gave me perfect days, and mosquito-bitten nights. You gave me friends, and you gave me teachers. Elephants, and tiger-hunts. You gave me street-dogs, and holy cows. Tihar and Dashai. Oh Nepal, you gave me so much life, and so much inspiration to do more with mine. How canI ever repay you, Nepal?
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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Nepal

Christine Anderson,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

Nepal, you gave me so much. So much freedom, and joy, and frustration. Working in Sabin’s shop making metal into beautiful things, and my hands intobeautiful tools, you gave me art. Sitting in my candle-lit kitchen making mo-mos with my family of strangers, you gave me a home. On the floor of that little house […]

Posted On

01/10/09

Author

Christine Anderson

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All of my clothing smells; I have not taken a hot shower in three months; my palat craves comforting foods; and my soul craves the embrace of family and childhood friends.

I am ready to go home but at the same time I look around and absentmindedly plan future weeks in Nepal that don't exist. I spin dreams of greater journeys through Asia, and I look at my newfound interest in South Asia and wonder if I would fall in love with parts of Africa if I spent this much time there and went so deeply.

I humor myself that I am preparing myself for reverse culture shock by eating more imported snacks and ordering less Dahl Bhat; I read fiction instead of relevent analysis of Nepal.

I am intimidated by the thought of being surrounded by old forms that I have come to see in a more objective and critical light. Christmas and the American materialism it embodies this fear. I also do not want to fall back into certain dynamics and certain constructions within my own personality. But if I allow fear to dominate the way I look at coming back then I will retreat into quiet abstraction characterized by distain for my native culture.

My greatest challenge now is to look at all I have learned and proactively apply it to my life at home: use my new insights to change old habits and improve my happiness and lifestyle. I am inspired to explore my home, New York City, with the same curiosity and beginer's eyes that I brought to Kathmandu. I am inspired to bring what I learned about minimalism and the destitute home and shake off the dust that lines my thoughts about environmental responsibility and service work for the hungry and suffering that surround me in my home.

I also want to take returning home as an opportunity to better understand exactly what has happened to me here and hopefully this process will fill me with a determination to return to Ladakh and Nepal with more questions and more fervor than I even had this time.

I want to thank my instructors; they were inspiring beyond what I conceived possible.

I want to thank my fellow students for the loving support and evironment they created, but this is hardly a goodbye to all of these friendships that are just now budding.

Love always,

Charlotte

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Goodbye

Charlotte T. McCurdy,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

All of my clothing smells; I have not taken a hot shower in three months; my palat craves comforting foods; and my soul craves the embrace of family and childhood friends. I am ready to go home but at the same time I look around and absentmindedly plan future weeks in Nepal that don’t exist. […]

Posted On

12/5/08

Author

Charlotte T. McCurdy

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We come home in two days. It's really amazing to think back on all we've accomplished. Here's a short list.

6 Weeks of homestays, two in very rural, self sustainingvillages.

Summiting 20,000ft.

Seeing a lamo, and shamen healer.

Visiting countless Buddhist Gompas, hindu temples, and Muslim Mosques.

10 days at a monastery, some of the time in silence.

4 weeks of Independent Study Projects.

and so much more!

See you all soon in the states.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Coming home

Adam Starek,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

We come home in two days. It’s really amazing to think back on all we’ve accomplished. Here’s a short list. 6 Weeks of homestays, two in very rural, self sustainingvillages. Summiting 20,000ft. Seeing a lamo, and shamen healer. Visiting countless Buddhist Gompas, hindu temples, and Muslim Mosques. 10 days at a monastery, some of the […]

Posted On

12/5/08

Author

Adam Starek

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My didi and I had planned the night before that we would wake up at 6, eat popped corn and soy beans, drink some tea, and then head out to "gas katna" (cutting grass) for the animals to eat. Waking up early was never a real problem. My didi and I slept upstairs, in the midst of the recent millet crop that they had collected. I slept on the dirt floor with millet at my feet, and she in a small bed just to the left of me. Every morning when she would wake up, which was usually just before 6am, she would go downstairs and begin a fire. The houses in Chokati were not built with any ventilation system, and therefore smoke would collect in the upstairs, and basically suffocate me awake. There was really no sleeping once the fire had started. I shuffled down the rickety steps, did the routine coughing and tearing from the smoke, and then sat down on a mat across from my didi. Dimly lit by the fire, i watched as she cooked the tea, and corn.

After we had eaten and sipped on our tea, she handed me a sickle and we were out the door. It was about 7am when we got under way, and it was a crisp morning. With the sun just about to rise over the ridge, and the normal thick cloud cover, it was quite cool for most of the walk. As I was walking I was completely absorbed in my surroundings, but I soon noticed that Didi was stopping, looking up into the terraced hill, and yelling at someone or something. I asked "Ke bayo didi?" and she pointed up into the hillside and replied, "Kukur." Our dog, Adjun had somehow ventured very high in the terraced hillside, and was staring down at us. Didi began stomping her feet, yelling "SHHHH SHHHH" and throwing rocks down the terrace below us. I was a bit surprised by the abrupt behavior, but when i looked up again, Adjun was flying down the hill, bounding down from terrace to terrace. When he finally reached us, he looked like the happiest dog in the world, and we gave him some serious lovin' for a few minutes. We continued on our walk with Adjun obediently tagging along behind us. After about an hour we finally reached her uncle's field, which was full of millet, grass, trees and bushes. All the villagers already working in the field got a big kick out of me coming down there to work, and stared at me for a good 10 minutes. We hopped down to the millet terrace, and she began showing me how to cut the "gas".

*oop. Typical, right as im writing my yak yak something goes wrong. The internet cafe guy just told me that the computer is about to shut down, so i will post this now, and i guess continue it later...

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Life in Chokati

Meriwether Denman,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

My didi and I had planned the night before that we would wake up at 6, eat popped corn and soy beans, drink some tea, and then head out to "gas katna" (cutting grass) for the animals to eat. Waking up early was never a real problem. My didi and I slept upstairs, in the […]

Posted On

11/30/08

Author

Meriwether Denman

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"If you sacrifice any part of yourself in an attempt to conform to another's expectations, you've truly compromised not only your experience—but your identity as well."

Disorientation has begun, and for those unfamiliar with Dragon's terminology, that means the emotional process of preparing ourselves for our reintegration into our home country. And that’s a heavy process. For me, it meant addressing the expectations that I have for myself and who I expect to be at the conclusion of this journey. Originally, I always thought these expectations to be of an external nature, retained by my family, friends, and acquaintances. I have carried these with me for the past three months, comparing who I was at the beginning and who I am now, and every time I do that I'm always disappointed to find I just haven’t changed enough and in the direction that I expected. Expected. Planned for since the beginning.

What? I knew nothing about the place I was going to before, how the hell could I plan how I was going to react to it. Furthermore, how could anyone I know begin to imagine all I was experiencing and how I was reacting to it? And the fact that these "plans" carried as much weight as they did, and occupied as many of my thoughts as they have is bewildering. Why did it take Adrian, sitting in twilight in the middle hills of Nepal to snap me out of my stupor? I grow in reaction to what I experience, not in response to what people tell me. I can always speculate and guess how Nepal is going to change me, but it's nothing more than a shot in the dark.

So now, as I sit once again in the hustle of Kathmandu, washed by the waves of Delhi, Ladakh, Trek, Bhaktapur, Hasera, Doshain, Kopan, Tihar, Kathmandu, three home stays, two village stays, a crash course in Nepali language and Tibetan medicine, and the looming wave of Chitwan on the brink of crashing over my head—I don’t feel different, but its hard to believe that I'm the same grain of sand I was at the beginning. But the differences are for the observer to detect, I'm done speculating.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Thanks Adrian.

Phil,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

"If you sacrifice any part of yourself in an attempt to conform to another’s expectations, you’ve truly compromised not only your experience—but your identity as well." Disorientation has begun, and for those unfamiliar with Dragon’s terminology, that means the emotional process of preparing ourselves for our reintegration into our home country. And that’s a heavy […]

Posted On

11/30/08

Author

Phil

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After just returning from a week in a remote village of Nepal, I was shocked to open my email to many wondering what was going on with the terrorists’ attacks in Mumbai. Ironically, before I could reply to any of their worried responses, I had to google the tragedy myself. I was completely horrified to come across an article naming India to the 20 most dangerous places to travel in the world; although I am safe in Nepal as of now, I did just book a ticket to Delhi for February to continue with my study abroad. Hopefully things will get a bit more under control by then.

While craziness endures in the country below, I have been living for a week in a village untouched by electricity or a connecting road. To get to this village we bussed for four hours and then hiked up a mountain for another four. We arrived sweaty, tired, and with our huge western hiking packs to be met by families that have only seen Westerners when other groups of students had come before. This village is called Chaukati and is nestled on the side of one of Nepal’s middle hills. Below and intermingled between the village houses were fields and above us was a lush jungle full of old rock lined trails and secret water falls.

At first I was totally entranced by the beauty of the village, continually amazed at the preservation of nature and of the culture of this village that has barely changed in the past 50 years. However while staying here I have been reading Jeffrey Sachs book on the history of poverty and how to end it. As I was reading about levels of poverty and ways to identify it, I was shocked to realize Chaukati actually did quality as extreme poverty. While I was mesmerized by the glittering sun, the small hiking trails, and the constant entourage of 20 children, I was totally separated from the hard work and suffering that many of this villagers experience on a daily basis. To us they might seem happy, always smiling, and with at least enough to eat. However, although we praise their lack of materialism and family structure, would we really want to cook over a fire for six hours a day without light, work long days in the fields without shoes, and never see change? Our cultural separation was highlighted when we hiked to visit their new temple. It was constructed all in concrete and when I arrived I found myself taking pictures of the village style homes around the temple and known of the bland temple itself. To the villagers, concrete and aluminum represents a standard of prosperity, of moving into the modern age. Yet, those of us in the modern age cling to the traditionalism that we love to observe and visit. I felt immense guilt by wanting this village to be preserved as is, when the villagers could truly benefit from modernization.

As our village stay came to an end we also entered into group discussions surrounded “de-orientation.” It is amazing to think of how fast these past three months have gone by. I have spent so many weeks trying to integrate into a culture when now I have to reintegrate into the culture I left behind. This transition I feel is coming too shortly – Although there are many aspects of Western culture I cannot wait for (ie toilet, shower), there is much much more to explore here.

Tomorrow morning we head south to the jungle. Everyone is eagerly anticipating the elephant rides, stick dances, canoe rides, and many adventures to end our journey with.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Time’s coming to an end

Jori Saeger,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

After just returning from a week in a remote village of Nepal, I was shocked to open my email to many wondering what was going on with the terrorists’ attacks in Mumbai. Ironically, before I could reply to any of their worried responses, I had to google the tragedy myself. I was completely horrified to […]

Posted On

11/30/08

Author

Jori Saeger

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    [post_content] => We have just returned from Chaukati, a small village in the middle hills of Nepal, about an hours  hike from the nearest road.  Village life is pretty much eat, sleep, and farm.  The fields are broken into hundreds of terraces because of the grade, so everything looks the same (very beautiful).  One free afternoon I decided to find somewhere to read, but on my way up ran into a 12 and 8 year-old struggling to haul a large bag of grain up the steep path(they carry big loads on straps from their foreheads in Nepal).  After dropping the load off at his fathers farmland he showed me the way to a nearby temple.  We jumped terrace to terrace (4-8 foot drops) all the way down to the beautiful temple.  We took a lot of photos on the way. The villagers are fascinated by cameras, but would stand straight and glare for the pictures, or sometimes salute.  I tried endlessly to get them to smile but didn't have much success.  Today we left our families of the week covered in tika (red powder) and malas (flower necklaces).  Tomorrow we leave for the jungle for our final week. See you all soon.
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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Terraces and Tika

Adam Starek,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

We have just returned from Chaukati, a small village in the middle hills of Nepal, about an hours hike from the nearest road. Village life is pretty much eat, sleep, and farm. The fields are broken into hundreds of terraces because of the grade, so everything looks the same (very beautiful). One free afternoon I […]

Posted On

11/30/08

Author

Adam Starek

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I love Nepal. It is great.

The Village we stayed at recently called Chokoti, was a beautiful little nook not more than an hour south of the tibetan border. Very little western influence has reached it at all and even the dirt roads do not stretch their culture shattering clutches to it. There is no electricity nor small house front stores to buy plastic wrapped cookies and soda. What a relief. The weeks preceding this stay were incredible, but kathmandu's pollution and the constant bustle of buses and tuk tuks was enough for me by the time we departed. The polarities of this country are stark and amazing, not only in geography but in cultural evolution and values. One could walk all day and not hear a word of english.

Except for fellow students sometimes.

It is inspiring to me to realize that one coud still live completely self sustained, and that it is not impossible to stay beyond the reach of modern consumer oriented culture.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Flying Free in the Friendly Sky

Gabe Stoltzfus,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

I love Nepal. It is great. The Village we stayed at recently called Chokoti, was a beautiful little nook not more than an hour south of the tibetan border. Very little western influence has reached it at all and even the dirt roads do not stretch their culture shattering clutches to it. There is no […]

Posted On

11/30/08

Author

Gabe Stoltzfus

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Before leaving for our village stay we had our final independent study project (ISP) presentations. Each student gave a 30 minute presentation of their ISP to the group and then a brief presentation at our family farewell party for all the families and mentors in attendence. Meri performed a dance, Gabe gave a sitar recital and others presented their areas of study. While in village, Adam had the chance to pursue Khukuri (knife) making and Jack and Phil also helped to produce a khukuri in just a few days. We are off to Chitwan National Park tomorrow!

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

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Independent Study Projects

Instructors,Himalayan Studies Semester, Fall 2008

Description

Before leaving for our village stay we had our final independent study project (ISP) presentations. Each student gave a 30 minute presentation of their ISP to the group and then a brief presentation at our family farewell party for all the families and mentors in attendence. Meri performed a dance, Gabe gave a sitar recital […]

Posted On

11/30/08

Author

Instructors

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