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[post_title] => Fall Photo Contest 2010 - Pt. 1
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Himalayan Studies "B", Fall 2010
Fall Photo Contest 2010 – Pt. 1
Katherine Mullin,Himalayan Studies "B", Fall 2010
Katherine’s pictures, Katherine’s email, captions by Mother (since Katherine is back in Nepal and can’t upload these). My apologies for boring captions, and also for any incorrect information in captions. File sizes have been reduced to facilitate uploading.
I am sitting on the roof of a hotel in a Tibetan town called Karze and writing a letter to people I don’t know yet. What I do know is that I will spend an epic adventure with them in the Himalayas this fall and I already have butterflies of excitement and anticipation in my belly.
At this moment I am leading a Tibet cultural summer course with Dragons and we are having some amazing time hiking the high hills of the Himalayas, circumambulating temples with pilgrims from all over the Land of Snows and drinking yak butter tea with the nomads on the way.
It has been quite some time since I last visited Nepal, but the memory of it is still vivid, just as if it happened yesterday. The first thing that comes to my mind when I set it on this unique country are its temples and the all pervading smell of incense in the air. But Nepal is much more than that. Every street of Patan, where we will spend a big chunk of time, is hiding something that takes your breath. Every hiking trail on Nepal’s magnificent mountains is giving a hint of interconnectedness between us and the cosmos we are living in.
The adventure that awaits us will take a lot of courage and high spirit and I have a deep respect for everyone who sets its foot on such an adventure. I strongly believe we are all sharing this urge for exploration and I am sure that it will be a fulfilling experience. We will be spending three months together, learning about a foreign culture and about ourselves. We will be sharing some amazing moments and there will also be hard times to share. In two months we will be setting on a pilgrimage of our lifetimes in the land of magic and mystery.
We will get to know each other very deeply in those three months, but before we meet, I would like to briefly introduce myself, just to give you an idea of who I am and what made me come your way. I am coming from a small, but extremely beautiful country, called Slovenia. It lies in the south eastern part of Europe and used to be a part of great Yugoslavia, up until 1991, when we got independence (the only country that avoided war, while Croatia, Bosnia and other countries went through a lot of suffering). You will have to search well for it on the map of Europe, since it is so small that the whole name “Slovenia” can not fit into the space of the country on the map. But, let me make it easier for you: we are squeezed between Italy (W), Austria (N), Hungary (E) and Croatia (S). And though the country is small (barely 200 miles from eastern to western border), and the population is just a little bit over 2 million, we have great mountains, plains, karst world, lakes and even 46 kilometers of sea coast. And that offers great opportunities for everybody who likes nature and meeting different customs. And I am absolutely one of those.
I have been travelling immensely with my parents around Europe in my childhood and continued to quench my thirst for nature and human heritage, cycling around Europe, skiing in the snowy peaks of Alpine mountain range and hiking around the colorful islands of Mediterranean Sea, in later years. Every trip I made was a stone in a mosaic of my life and every experience I have had, made me what I am today. I am thankful for all the opportunities I had, to meet people, visit places and fill my senses.
I first smelled the air of Asia, when I traveled to China in 2002, studying Chinese philosophy, arts and religious practices. I have spent a lot of my time in the Asian countries since then. Travelling through South East Asia, practicing martial arts and Traditional Chinese Medicine in China and training in Buddhism and meditation with Tibetan lamas in Northern India, Nepal and Japan.
Living in China for a couple of years, I was getting immersed in Chinese tradition and contemporary life. I have completed my sinology studies (study of Chinese language, culture, philosophy, history…), in Chinese city of Kunming in Yunnan province. My main point of interest in Chinese studies, among all others, was the ancient philosophy of China, especially Taoism and I have finished my thesis doing a research on “Taoist cultivation of body and mind”, which was inspired by years of taijiquan (taichi) and qigong practice in Slovenia and later on in China.
My final thesis at the Comparative Religion studies, took me to Western Tibet, where I did a research on different beliefs on the sacred mountain - Mount Kailash, which is considered a centre of the world for Buddhist, Bön, Jain and Hindu practitioners. I concluded this thesis with comparative research on esoteric – yogic traditions of Tibetan Buddhist and popular religion. I have circled the mountain – a devotion practice called circumambulation or kora in Tibetan language, with a small group of Indian pilgrims, meeting Buddhist practitioners from all over Tibet and loving every second of it.
In my comparative religion studies I got inspired by work of Joseph Campbell, an American comparative mythologist, who has performed a great work in connecting Jungian psychology with different world mythologies. The piece of advice that he offers to all of his students and followers is to: “Follow your Bliss.” In fact, his exact words are: “When you have seen the radiance of eternity . . . when you follow your bliss, and by bliss I mean that deep sense of being in it and doing what the push is, out of your own existence . . . doors will open where you would not have thought there were going to be doors.” This is my motivational quote in life and I hope we will be able to find bliss together, on the high plains of the Himalayas.
I first met Dragons in China, when one of the programs was passing through the city I lived in. The moment I was told about the mission of Dragons, I felt an intense need to get to know these people more and connect with them. The next summer, in 2007, I led the first trip to Tibet and it was one of the most amazing trips in my life. I have led China semester courses afterwards and I am leading another Tibetan adventure at this very moment. And I love it.
My deep connection with Tibetan people and their religion leads me to Tibetan areas in Northern India and Nepal almost every winter, where I spend most of my time involved in Buddhism or hiking the surrounding areas.
When I don’t practice martial arts in China, meditate in the monasteries of India or travel through other countries, I spend my time in Slovenia, where I practice Traditional Chinese Acupressure Massage - tuina, teach taijiquan (taichi) and qigong, translate between Chinese, English and Slovenian and work as a freelance reporter.
The excitement is growing in me and I believe it is growing no less in you. We don’t need to wait for the time we meet to start sharing our thoughts, expectations, fears and ideas. So, please feel free to get in touch with me, via email (email@example.com), skype (zivka8) my cell phone in China: 0086-18782267315 (until August 7th) or cell phone in Slovenia: 00386-41867251 (starting from August 8th). Since I am traveling in remote parts of the Tibetan plateau at the moment I ask for your patience regarding answering your questions.
In the weeks to come we will be posting some readings and movies suggestions, packing lists and similar things, so you are welcome to check the yak board often and share your life, ideas
, fears and hopes on it too.
For the end, another paragraph for inspiration:
Where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world. -- Joseph Campbell
Sending you all my warmest wishes, from the roof of the world
Namaste Fellow Travelers, I am sitting on the roof of a hotel in a Tibetan town called Karze and writing a letter to people I don’t know yet. What I do know is that I will spend an epic adventure with them in the Himalayas this fall and I already have butterflies of excitement and […]
Our journey begins… Believe it or not, in just two months we will begin our journey through the Himalayas together. At this point in the game I always take some time to reflect on why I do what I do and what keeps bringing me back to this part of the world. It is the colors, the smells, that unique combination of living, breathing culture that stimulates the senses and leaves me wanting more. It is the people and the landscape that have taken a stronghold in my heart. And it is all of you daring wanderers with a curiosity about the world around you that continually inspire me to learn more about this wondrous corner of the world that has become an important part of my life. It takes incredible courage to take this step into the unknown and I have deep respect for each of you for doing so. It will undoubtedly be a rewarding three months!
First of all I would like to tell you a bit about myself and why I do what I do.Nepal has always had a strong, inexplicable pull for me. It was this pull that inspired me to go to Nepal for the first time when I was 19, and what keeps bringing me back to Asia again and again. It is the people of the region that drive my wandering and my continuous learning. It is a love affair with landscape and the people it sustains, a relationship that continues to grow and take new forms.
My first adventure to Nepal was in 2004. I studied with the School for International Training, where I focused on Nepalese culture and development and Nepali language. That was the beginning of it all. It sparked a deep curiosity about this part of the world and its people, and it opened me to new experiences that until that point, I had never deemed possible. In short, it changed my life. After I returned I finished my degree in Religious Studies and Psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Once I graduated in 2006 my wander lust needing quenching so I returned to Asia, this time to travel throughout Nepal, India and Southeast Asia, to trek extensively in the mountains that I love and play in Nepal's glorious rivers. Along with traveling and exploring I spent two months volunteering with The Mountain Fund, an American based NGO aiming to help local NGOs in mountain communities around the world. In 2008, I again returned to the Himalayan region with Dragons and have continued to do so ever since. Working with Dragons has given me the opportunity to continue my learning in the region and to share my love for the place with all of you, for which I am grateful.
This is a piece of my story and I truly look forward to hearing all of yours. We all come from very unique and diverse backgrounds, which will color our travel experiences, bringing many wonderful voices to the table. I look forward to hearing them all and cannot wait to embark on this journey with you! Come wide-eyed and open hearted and let's see what adventures we can find together.
This is perhaps one of the most exciting and overwhelming moments in all of your lives. How does one prepare to jump into the unknown? In the upcoming months we are here to help one another in this preparation. Let it begin now. Feel free to contact me with any questions, thoughts or stories, or just to say hi. I look forward to hearing about each of you. Until then…
Germaine Bartlett-Graff,Himalayan Studies "B", Fall 2010
Namaste Fellow Travelers! Our journey begins… Believe it or not, in just two months we will begin our journey through the Himalayas together. At this point in the game I always take some time to reflect on why I do what I do and what keeps bringing me back to this part of the world. […]