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Himalaya B
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    [post_date] => 2014-12-05 08:07:12
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Dear Parents,
All the students are off - we shared a heartfelt and emotional farewell ceremony at Boudhanath Stupa, and now that your children are safely aboard their international flight or continuing on further in their journeys, we would like to take a moment to express our sincerest gratitude for entrusting us with the well-being of one of the most treasured parts of your lives over the past 3 months. We have all grown very close, a bonding process accelerated and deepened by the challenges and achievements involved in exploring the Himalayas together.
As instructors, we feel so fortunate to just begin to glimpse into the bottomless well of love you hold for your children and from which Matt, Olivia, Kate, Teddy, Meredith, Clelie, Oliver, Rachael, Lisa, Claire, and Scott have repeatedly drawn inspiration for their interactions with each other, us, and Nepal.
We feel grateful to have been gifted with incredibly curious, engaged, thoughtful, conscientious, compassionate, budding global citizens for students. All 11 of them have humbled us in unique ways.
We hope they return to you with a deeper awareness of the world and their own unique potential. We also know that the transition back home will take time and patience. They have all been through a unique experience that does not immediately lend itself to words. Please be patient with them and allow the space for their stories to unfold organically over the days and weeks to come.
With so much love,Japhy, Caitlin, and Sara
---
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those That loved me and alone; on shore and when Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name; — Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ulysses
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The Journey Continues…

Instructor Team,Himalaya B

Description

Dear Parents, All the students are off – we shared a heartfelt and emotional farewell ceremony at Boudhanath Stupa, and now that your children are safely aboard their international flight or continuing on further in their journeys, we would like to take a moment to express our sincerest gratitude for entrusting us with the well-being […]

Posted On

12/5/14

Author

Instructor Team

Category

Himalaya B

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    [post_content] => On November 15th, after hiking through a beautiful valley with a raging turquoise colored river and cliffs rising into the sky on both sides, I wrote the following poem.

The River Path

This river and these steep cliffs
I wander wander this abyss
Through these rocks I walk the path
Leading on and on and on.

In the distance higher peaks
White snow, desolate and bleak
Charged with life of Earth and Sun
While Moon sings songs of all and one.

Tapestry Weaver
Please weave me
Into your blanket, patchwork love
I'll disappear in all the colors
Staying warm through winters cold.

My soul will listen listen listen
To the silence of the falling snow
The fire crackles, burns and blazes
And my heart begins to glow.

May all life in this world of sorrow
See the beauty of this sweet sadness
May all life in this world of joy
Feel that joy shine in each heart.
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Himalaya B

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The River Path

Oliver Creech,Himalaya B

Description

On November 15th, after hiking through a beautiful valley with a raging turquoise colored river and cliffs rising into the sky on both sides, I wrote the following poem. The River Path This river and these steep cliffs I wander wander this abyss Through these rocks I walk the path Leading on and on and […]

Posted On

12/4/14

Author

Oliver Creech

Category

Himalaya B

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    [post_content] => Ten days into our trek, and over a week from any road we found the Nepal of our dreams, fantasies, and imaginations. A vision of the Himalayas held by Hollywood film producers and dreamers everywhere. So far north that the familiar "Namaste" is dropped from our vocabularies as the Nepali language is replaced by Tibetan. The international border lays closer than the next village down the trail. Prayer flags silently flap in the steady breeze, and mandarin characters are now added to the growing list of languages depicting the word "toilet" on the blue doors of the wooden outhouses. Brightly colored Gompas stand as the only contrast to the otherwise universal brown shade consistently painting the landscape from tree line below, to the glacial snow caps permanently residing in every direction around our camp for the night. Rice patties and other agriculture were last seen a few villages ago as the nighttime temperature now drops well below freezing. Herds of yaks graze along the banks of the slowly moving creek who's glacial headwaters, fueled by the daily snowmelt, lay only a few hours above in the ice capped peaks of the staggering mountains which now complete encircle us in a 360 degree panorama.

This is the reality of the Himalayas I couldn't help but imagine before traveling to Nepal, keeping my doubts and resignations well in mind with no expectation of it actually existing let alone trekking right through the heart of this reality. The truth is this reality exists.

___________

From an elevation of 17,000 ft at Larke Pass, we begin our long descent downhill following the trickling creek of glacial snowmelt which is slowed fueled and grows to become the raging river that will give life to the Indian Subcontinent below. As we reach the last stage of our descent, crossing over the ridge of the Kathmandu Valley by bus, we descend back into the quite different reality of the capital city for the third and final time of our three month journey. I reach deep into my pack to retrieve my face mask which has been living undisturbed in my bag for the last three weeks. This marks the transition from one world to the next. We have now entered the Nepal not of our dreams, but of a different reality, where the truths of life are manifested in stray dogs, countless temples, kites, over one million people, the chorus of cheers of joy that ring out across the city the moment the load-sheded power turns back on, and harmful microscopic particles in the air.

The sudden crazed bustle of Kathmandu as seen from a bus window comes as a violent shock to those having spent the last three weeks in remote rural Nepal. Putting my face mask on again for the first time fills me with a sense of returning to the "real world" from the realm of fantasy and dreams, which now seem like a distant memory wiped away by the sudden sensory indulgence. However, if there is one lesson I have learned from this amazing journey it has been that there is no singular version of reality, no one way that is correct, and no one meaning of life. We all hold our own version of realities with our own morals, truths, beliefs, and experiences. So while we experienced first hand the fantastical reality of the Himalayas held by countless people across the world, that is not the real Nepal. Nor is the overwhelming urban reality of the capital city. Nepal as a country, and this world as a whole is made up of an unlimited amount of realities that are all equally true, important, and real. Be it the reality of my homestay brother in Patan Kathmandu, the reality of Ani Karen, the swedish nun at Kopan Monastary, a villager in the remote village of Samagau on the Tibetan border, or my homestay mother in the Gurung village of Balumchor, they are equally critical realities that make the extremely diverse and vibrant country of Nepal. In the last three months it feels as if we have hardly scratched the surface of the extremely different realities of Nepal.
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Himalaya B

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Transferyak

Man Bahadur Cappetta,Himalaya B

Description

Ten days into our trek, and over a week from any road we found the Nepal of our dreams, fantasies, and imaginations. A vision of the Himalayas held by Hollywood film producers and dreamers everywhere. So far north that the familiar “Namaste” is dropped from our vocabularies as the Nepali language is replaced by Tibetan. […]

Posted On

12/4/14

Author

Man Bahadur Cappetta

Category

Himalaya B

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Why We Travelled

Back to Kathmandu

There are no more yaks down here

No dragons either

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Himalaya B

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Why We Travelled

Teddy Riker,Himalaya B

Description

Why We Travelled Back to Kathmandu There are no more yaks down here No dragons either

Posted On

12/3/14

Author

Teddy Riker

Category

Himalaya B

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    [post_date] => 2014-12-02 18:58:18
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    [post_content] => We crossed a bridge on our final hiking day of the Manaslu Circuit. The images of the bridges we crossed on our paths began to blur together in my memory at some point; the total count is somewhere between 50 and 60, I lost track. A busy collage of rickety planks balanced precariously on stones just inches above rapidly flowing water, hastily and unevenly repaired gaps in the wood that allowed glimpses to the river sometimes very far below.

Every extremely high bridge we crossed, however, was more recently constructed, and built of metal - a monochromatic path set in the air, stark in contrast to the prayer flags strung along each of them and to the always changing, yet always breathtaking surroundings. Rolling hills were broken here and there by jagged boulders, small clusters of homes sat perched impossibly high among the terraced fields, and waterfalls of every form cascaded from unseen sources, cleaving the land in two.

The landscape changed as we moved through a series of climates, but that was the setting for this particular bridge. It looked almost identical to so many we had crossed: steel suspension, a long and narrow strip of grey leading to a path carved roughly into a cliff face on the opposite side of the river. A distinct wave of emotion - primarily an unsettling combination of sadness and panic - washed over me as I reached the middle and turned to face the valley, and I couldn't initially figure out why.

The crossing of a bridge is a pretty cliche symbol, often used in movies and books to signify the ridding of the old and the embracing of the new and unfamiliar. The unfamiliar part was definitely true for me; the end of the bridge presented a rocky path I'd never walked before. But it was situated towards the end of a long day of walking, and in crossing it, I wasn't leaving anything I knew well behind that could have been the root cause of this sudden surge of anxiety.

It was the realization that I'd been struggling to grasp for the entirety of the semester: that I'm both inherently adverse to settling into routine, and yet somehow deeply afraid of change. It was the stunning reality of my surroundings, and the knowledge that I had to keep walking, to cross the bridge and leave the view behind. I couldn't sit for an hour, or a day, to take it in, and I'd long since accepted that trying to justly capture any part of this experience by camera is impossible.

The bridge didn't signify my departure from one home in exchange for a new one; it was simply part of our route that day. But I - we - needed it in order to progress further in our journey. I suppose I began this trip in the hopes of "finding myself," and I won't return home having found her, whoever she is. But I didn't expect to. I embarked on this trip with a mind brimming with questions. I've answered some, but found myself asking more every day. I have more questions about the endless facets of the world that I wouldn't have known enough to create prior to our various experiences on this course, and I've brought about more questions about myself that, in the beginning of this trip, I wouldn't have even thought to ask. But I don't see this as a step back, because there will always be more to learn, always more questions to pose.

I haven't yet gotten used to the fundamental impermanent nature of things, which is so often emphasized on this course, but I can at least say that I've begun to accept it; every bridge I crossed brought on a mix of overwhelming awe and a touch of the bittersweet. I can't stand on that particular bridge forever, and I can't stay on this trip for as long as I desperately want to with its 13 other endlessly fascinating participants. I won't - I can't - find the answers to all the questions I came here with; I can't even put some of them into words. But I can find my next journey, and with any luck, it will have me asking just as many questions about myself and the world around me as this one did.
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Himalaya B

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Crossing Bridges

Olivia Dunn,Himalaya B

Description

We crossed a bridge on our final hiking day of the Manaslu Circuit. The images of the bridges we crossed on our paths began to blur together in my memory at some point; the total count is somewhere between 50 and 60, I lost track. A busy collage of rickety planks balanced precariously on stones […]

Posted On

12/2/14

Author

Olivia Dunn

Category

Himalaya B

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    [post_content] => I was first introduced to the idea of walking meditation almost two months ago during our meditation retreat, but it took a trip to the high Himalayas for me to begin to truly understand it. Walking meditation is basically a way of synchronizing your breathing with your movements in order to calm your mind and center yourself in the present moment. At the monastery, I found this practice arduous and frustrating, but when two months later and 10,000 higher in elevation we were once again instructed to synchronize our breath with our steps, I figured I'd give it another try.

Nobody was talking, we were just walking and breathing...

Inhale step...Exhale step...Inhale step...

The rhythmic flow of my breathing kept me anchored in the present moment. Everything else slipped away...

Inhale step...Exhale step...Inhale step...

There was no forcing: my legs didn't fall asleep, no one was telling me what to think, I didn't worry if I was "doing it right," it was just me in the present moment, my feet and breath moving as one. Free from outside pressures I was able to sink deep within myself and observe. I simply watched the rush of my breath, the strain of my muscles, and the flow of my thoughts.

For me this is what meditation is all about. Its not a test of your endurance and determination, its a natural state of being which allows you to relax into yourself in the present moment. We all have our own meditation halls, I discovered mine on a mountain trail with the crisp cold air rushing in and out of my lungs. It is here that I find my peace and clarity. It is here that I meditate.
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Himalaya B

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A Walking Meditation

Lisa Blackmer-Raynolds,Himalaya B

Description

I was first introduced to the idea of walking meditation almost two months ago during our meditation retreat, but it took a trip to the high Himalayas for me to begin to truly understand it. Walking meditation is basically a way of synchronizing your breathing with your movements in order to calm your mind and […]

Posted On

12/2/14

Author

Lisa Blackmer-Raynolds

Category

Himalaya B

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    [post_date] => 2014-12-02 18:54:29
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    [post_content] => Crossing a river is a lot like playing chess: one wrong move and the whole game might collapse. It requires strategy and thought; no talking, no side conversations. Time slows between movements. One foot, next foot, hop, step. It's just you and the river now, and you begin to understand it. You can see the patterns in its habits, feel its cold breath brush against your feet. The act of crossing is no longer about getting to the other side; it's about understanding, and beauty.

On a trail like Manaslu, there is no shortage of intimacy within every conversation one has with her surroundings. Taking a shower in a waterfall, for example, becomes less about getting clean than it is about seeing how the water moves against the rocks, in order to leave the waterfall the way one finds it. And, like rivers and chess, the way toward understanding these conversations- how to notice the importance of a waterfall's movements- is by not knowing. 

I learned this lesson from myself.

More accurately, a former self, one from whom I thought I could not learn much of anything. That is, until I came upon a letter on our second rest day. We were, at this point on our circuit, ten days from any roads at all, and three days away from the dreaded "pass day," where we would hit fourteen thousand feet, seventeen thousand feet, and then eleven thousand feet within the span of twelve hours. This, we knew, would be our biggest test as a group. Not only was pass day supposed to be our longest and hardest, but also was it the symbol for the beginning of the end of our time in Nepal.

A hard pill to swallow.

Thus, our second rest day presented itself as a good time as any for reflection. That morning, Japhy handed out small envelopes to us all, each with our respective names emblazoned across the front. At first, I did not recognize the pretty cursive as my own hand. Though, as Japhy continued to explain the point of our forthcoming "solo time" that day, while i fiddled with the corners of my envelope, it became clear that I had, in fact, written the letter in my hand, more than two months prior, intended to be read by a later me.

My Letter:

"R-

The Sun is setting both on my tired mind and the horizon. Here, we face the end of the beginning, and truly begin to turn our backs on who we were before right now. Someone once asked, "What do you think of when you look at the Sunset?"

I didn't know then. I know now. 

Infinity. Immovability. Sturdiness. Love. Pinks, Yellows, Oranges, serene souls, bursts of skyward color, the stuff of my dreams. Also, knowing that the sun rises elsewhere as it sets on me. Someone sees my sunset in the form of a new day.

So, moving forward, you- me- and your- my- restless mind will soon find that sunsets are distant beginnings. A call to those few wild at heart who wish for more but are kept in cages. In being here, though, you've already shown the world that life does not have to be so. You refused to accept the words they snuck into your morning cereal; those about "reality" and facing it, and instead you said no, grasped at the open air and flapped your wings and... look. Look what being you can do. What it has done. 

Now, by no means do I expect or even hope that you will be the same person reading this as you were when writing it. You have taken on a piece of the world by now, instead of merely grasping at the idea of doing so, and I hope you have learned how to surrender yourself to the flame. You wanted this. You needed something bigger than yourself to rip you out of the shadow you were living in. 

This world, your world, can be hard to live in. You know this all too well. Sometimes, this is just within the darkest corners of your mind. Sometimes, often, it is outside. 

Never forget, though, that this is what brought you here. To be closer to the discomfort- both physical stress and of knowing this is life. You wanted to see for yourself how the world works when it spins outside of your palm. and with any luck, by now you have. And I hope it is as wonderfully, beautifully tragic as it should be. "

Reading my own words happened to be exactly what I needed in that moment. It also, however, confused the hell out of me. How could I have grown at all, if i found extreme wisdom within my "former" self? Could I have possibly become less aware than I had been, even before Nepal? If so, what had been the point of coming to Nepal at all?

The beauty of my generation, and, perhaps, its greatest flaw, is that it seeks to know. We want to be certain that the world turns the way it does for the reason we've been told. And, if that reason doesn't fit, we want to know, absolutely, the correct answer to take its place.

I wanted to know, too.

that's why I took a semester off of school. It's why we're all here.

We all came to Nepal to leave knowing something. I'm sure I can say for most of us, it was about us. We came to find that more perfect version of ourselves that we thought had been missing from our "real" lives, and we all saw that version joining us somewhere in Nepal.

In a Village.

In a Monastery.

On a Mountain.

But what we learned- or, at least, what I learned- was that that "more perfect" version doesn't exist.

So, I suppose, what I'm trying to say is that while my letter seemed to offer all the wisdom I needed, it wasn't wisdom I actually found; it was insight.

The sun is setting again here; we are leaving this semester behind in less than a week. But perhaps the sun then rises somewhere else. I don't know where, I don't know why, but I do understand that it does.

And, as I do not know the true purpose of a sunset, I do not know myself any more than I did when I got to Nepal. In other words, I've discovered now why that perfect Rachael never existed.

Of course, there are some things that I do know about myself, like how yak cheese makes me sick, and altitude makes me gassy, and how Nepal will always have a piece of my soul.

But the important things, like Who I Am, I do not- I cannot- know, because like the river, I am always changing. Like a game of chess, I am too complex.

Instead, as I've come to understand the river from our many conversations along this past trek, I've also come to understand myself.

And so now, perhaps you see, that the truth about not knowing, is that it's the most complete kind of understanding of all.
    [post_title] => The Truth About Not Knowing
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Himalaya B

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The Truth About Not Knowing

Rachael Petty,Himalaya B

Description

Crossing a river is a lot like playing chess: one wrong move and the whole game might collapse. It requires strategy and thought; no talking, no side conversations. Time slows between movements. One foot, next foot, hop, step. It’s just you and the river now, and you begin to understand it. You can see the patterns […]

Posted On

12/2/14

Author

Rachael Petty

Category

Himalaya B

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    [post_content] => Where Poinsettias Grow...

Listen,
To the roar,
The trickle,
The steady drip.

Icy glacial melt carves the creases around her eyes,
Sinking in, sustaining life,
As precious and as wild as her jungle home.

Imagine the future,
The depth of the bend,
The slope of the ridge,
The height of the peak.

The power of a fall spitting and cascading into the unknown,
Never permanent, ever existent.

Her storied form ever-changing
Infinite beauty, she shares with all her children.
    [post_title] => Where Poinsettias Grow...
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Himalaya B

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Where Poinsettias Grow…

Claire Dumont,Himalaya B

Description

Where Poinsettias Grow… Listen, To the roar, The trickle, The steady drip. Icy glacial melt carves the creases around her eyes, Sinking in, sustaining life, As precious and as wild as her jungle home. Imagine the future, The depth of the bend, The slope of the ridge, The height of the peak. The power of […]

Posted On

12/1/14

Author

Claire Dumont

Category

Himalaya B

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    [post_content] => Dear Himalaya semester families,

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure in Nepal! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their plane back home. Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families:

Returning Flight:
December 5th, 2014
Dragonair #103
Depart: Kathmandu (KTM) 11:00pm
Arrive: Hong Kong (HKG) 5:30am (Dec 6th)

December 6th, 2014
Cathay Pacific #898
Depart: Hong Kong (HKG) 10:05am
Arrive: Los Angeles (LAX) 6:40am

If you have any questions or concerns about the return – and you’re calling outside of our normal office hours – please leave a message at 800-982-9203 x 130.  Should you need to reach our staff during students’ return travel days (outside of normal office hours), please call our Admin cell phone for assistance: 303-921-6078.

Many thanks,

Dragons Administration
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Himalaya B

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Return Group Flight Reminder

Dragons Administration,Himalaya B

Description

Dear Himalaya semester families, It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure in Nepal! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their plane back home. Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families: Returning Flight: December 5th, 2014 Dragonair […]

Posted On

12/1/14

Author

Dragons Administration

Category

Himalaya B

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    [post_date] => 2014-12-01 09:16:07
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    [post_content] => Jump up to that six o'clock alarm and crawl out of your warm sleeping bag
We're walking to a new home today.
Collapse those tent poles and roll up the tent
We're packing up everything for the day.
Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before you eat, even when it's cold,
And add some piyush drops to the creatures in your water before you take a drink,
Because it's important to be healthy and hydrated on the trail.
Heave that svelte pack onto your shoulders and get ready to move your feet.
Strap the buckles around you nice and tight, try not to let the weight tip you over.
Now put one foot in front of the other - there you go that's the way,
And keep that up until you're good and tired at the end of another long walking day.
Look out for the jingling pack mules and mind their stinky plops in the path.
Make sure to walk auspiciously around the sacred rock piles, even if you have to retrace your steps
And use caution when crossing all sixty bridges, whether they're slippery wooden planks or bouncy wire and metal.
Although it's important to watch your step, remember the beautiful place surrounding you,
Keep your head up and every once in a while and soak in the majestic himals.
And when the holiday of giving thanks comes around
It may seem like home, family, food and tradition are far away,
But acknowledge how lucky we are to be here now, walking
From home to home with a new family to celebrate, appreciate and thank.
    [post_title] => Advice for a Novice Trekker
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Himalaya B

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Advice for a Novice Trekker

Clelie Fielding,Himalaya B

Description

Jump up to that six o’clock alarm and crawl out of your warm sleeping bag We’re walking to a new home today. Collapse those tent poles and roll up the tent We’re packing up everything for the day. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before you eat, even when it’s cold, And add some […]

Posted On

12/1/14

Author

Clelie Fielding

Category

Himalaya B

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