Photo of the Week
Photo Title


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Our trip began in the Kathmandu airport parking lot, where we found our instructors laden with marigold mala necklaces and beaming with smiles in the monsoon rain. After a serene week of preparation in the ancient city of Bhaktapur, our group plunged into the whirlwind of the semester to come. The first stop was Dhulikhel. We spent ten days in a rural village perched on a mountain ridge, immersed in an incredibly loving, self-sustaining community, learning about sustainability and rural issues. From there, we embarked on a three-day mini trek along the rim of the Kathmandu valley, a physical and symbolic journey from village life to the Namo Buddha monastery and our five-day silent retreat. Once our immersion into Buddhist philosophy (and few hot showers) was complete, we transitioned again, this time from the serenity of the mountain monastery to the chaotic, colorful bustle of Kathmandu. Our group settled in for a whole month, each with our own homestay family and Independent Study Project. With our daily routine of yoga, language lessons with Rajesh dai and Nisha di, guest lectures and time to connect with our families and explore the beauty around us, it was a month of immense growth and personal development for each of us. From there, we transitioned into yet another facet of Nepal’s multifaceted identity and embarked on a seventeen-day trek to the holy pilgrimage site of Gosaikunda Lake. After our full group’s successful summit of Suriya Peak, we decided to descend early due to altitude. Despite the early turnaround, everyone loved the experience, and we had a brief stopover at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram outside of Kathmandu where we farmed, rolled incense, and participated in chanting and communal living. We enjoyed one last day at the Program House with a celebratory feast, then settled into our transference site in Boudha, the Buddhist neighborhood of Kathmandu and home to the beautiful stupa. As we prepared to head home, we could all agree on one thing: this incredibly formative experience has shaped us all for the better.

-Abigail Judge

Friends, we've reached that time where our journey together ends, and we part ways on new paths. We had an amazing three months together traveling through Nepal, climbing peaks and walking around sacred lakes, learning Nepali, exploring ancient temples, cooking many breakfasts. We have transitioned from spending nearly all our days together to now being noticeably apart: such a palpable lesson in impermanence and transition.

By now, our little Himalayan family has returned to the arms of loved ones in the U.S. bursting with stories to tell, pictures to share, and lots of stored-up hugs to give. To the friends, family, and Field Notes readers out there, thank you for sharing your loved ones with us. We know that each student brings with him or her a community, a Universe of relations and family that have shaped and formed who they are, that miss them and worry about them and send love to them while they are on the other side of the Earth. Thank you for the role you played in sending your beloved student to Nepal, for guiding them on the journey. We honor your generosity, and hope your reunions are sweet.

Back at home, perhaps many of you students are already living into the words of Henry David Thoreau, who centuries ago observed that "things do not change; we change." Much of the life you left behind might remain the same, but somewhere deep inside each of us, seeds have been planted. Though it might be hard to detect at first, some part of each of us has been transformed by our days together in Nepal, learning from one another. And these are the seeds of transformation that will continue to take root and grow long after the memories fade.

Each person involved in our semester is filled to the brim with love and potential, and we, your Instructor Team, can't wait to see where your life and dreams take you. Remember as you move forward the words of David Orr, who said "the plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world more habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it."

We already miss you, but we hold the strong conviction that you will do amazing things, guided by the fullness of your heart, passions, and values. We trust your leadership and your desire to do good in this world, whether that be joining social justice movements in solidarity or planting a garden in your backyard. In these three months you have been challenged, you have risen to the occasion, you have grown, you have given deeply of yourselves.

So go forward boldly, buoyed by the love of your Dragons family and the warmth of your relations welcoming you home. And don't forget to keep in touch once in a while: we can't wait to hear the stories that await you!

With Himalayan-sized love,

Your Instructor Team

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May your journey be beautiful!

Sarah Messner,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

Description

Our trip began in the Kathmandu airport parking lot, where we found our instructors laden with marigold mala necklaces and beaming with smiles in the monsoon rain. After a serene week of preparation in the ancient city of Bhaktapur, our group plunged into the whirlwind of the semester to come. The first stop was Dhulikhel. […]

Posted On

12/8/16

Author

Sarah Messner

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The Himalaya group has arrived in New York. Thank you for an amazing semester and enjoy the homecoming! 
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FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A, FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

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Himalaya Group Arrived in NYC

Eva Vanek,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A, FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

Description

Dear Friends and Family, The Himalaya group has arrived in New York. Thank you for an amazing semester and enjoy the homecoming!

Posted On

12/6/16

Author

Eva Vanek

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    [post_content] => The group has made it through security and is on their way home!!
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Group is on their way…

Shannon Harriman,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

Description

The group has made it through security and is on their way home!!

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Shannon Harriman

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    [post_content] => Happy Birthday Abi!!!!!
    [post_title] => Abi's Birthday
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Abi’s Birthday

Instructor Team,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

Description

Happy Birthday Abi!!!!!

Posted On

12/4/16

Author

Instructor Team

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-03 11:12:08
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    [post_content] => Highlights from the trek:
  1. All 11 students, 6 leaders, and 2 porters successfully summited Surya Peak at 5,145 meters
  2. Kora around Gosaikuda Lake
  3. Fishbowl/Monopoly deal
  4. Seeing Tibet on backcounrty thanksgiving (Nov 17th)
  5. Accidentally celebrating Thanksgiving twice
  6. The views (We saw the ranges of Langtang, Annapurna,  and Manaslu in addition to the Ganesh Himal)
  7. Tea time McVities
  8. Trail conversations
  9. Witnessing a shamanic ritual
  10. Going to sleep under the Milky Way and the millions of stars
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FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

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Top 10 From the Trek

Jordan,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

Description

Highlights from the trek: All 11 students, 6 leaders, and 2 porters successfully summited Surya Peak at 5,145 meters Kora around Gosaikuda Lake Fishbowl/Monopoly deal Seeing Tibet on backcounrty thanksgiving (Nov 17th) Accidentally celebrating Thanksgiving twice The views (We saw the ranges of Langtang, Annapurna,  and Manaslu in addition to the Ganesh Himal) Tea time McVities […]

Posted On

12/3/16

Author

Jordan

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    [post_content] => If each life is a universe, maybe fear is water - it shapes us and teaches us and gives us life, and sometimes it makes us crap our pants.

I don't think that fear is a bad thing, but I think we're so used to safety that fear turns us into Bad People. I took a gap year because I felt too safe. I took a gap year because I didn't want my torrential fear to shape me into something jagged. There are far too many sharp-edged people in the world, people that slam their doors shut and hurt each other and hold their fear in the palms of their hands, cupped like water. I think that people like going outdoors because it's one of the places where fear still teaches you things, and it's one of the places where embracing your fear is worth it. If you go camping, you learn pretty quickly how to balance between what scares you for a reason and what's worth pushing past. I think that you can learn a lot from that, especially in a world and a society so scared of the unknown. You have to put yourself out there to make connections that matter, to the earth and to other people, and not just "out there" in a physical sense but in an emotional and a spiritual sense too. I went to a public high school and entered a perpetual state of confused anxiety because the whole thing was just a competition about who could act the most bored - school shouldn't do that to you. That's the opposite of learning. Everybody wanted to be bored, because the less you believe in, the safer you are. If you hate your whole town with a teenaged, fervent angst, that town can't hurt you. If you hold nothing sacred, you don't have to worry about losing it.

I am coming to the end of three months in a very sacred place, and I am so afraid of losing it. I'm so scared that I'll go home and feel too safe again and forget everything I've learned. A week ago, a tiny village on the edge of Tibet welcomed us with wide-open arms in a display of compassion I can only describe as childlike. What does it say about us, that kindness is a trait exclusive to our children? Greg talks sometimes about the importance of initiation ceremonies into adulthood, how we don't have one in America, but I think we do have one, in our own sad way. I think what marks adults from children is a tendency towards safety. Adults where I'm from are afraid of getting out there in a way that people plain aren't here. They're afraid of caring about things and believing in things, and holding fragile things as sacred. People in Nepal walk for a week to get to an alpine lake and build a cairn, because they believe in it. I'm so afraid of going home to a place where believing in things is considered a waste of time. I'm afraid of living in a place where people don't take care of each other because they're scared for themselves.

But that might be the whole point. I don't want that fear of going back to make me jagged - I want, so badly, to be the person who observes and absorbs that river of fear they've got and lets it smooth them into somebody with open arms. I want to learn how to be scared without becoming angry. I want to believe in too many things, all at once, to let all that wonder and awe at the world around us exist unimpeded by cynicism. Maybe Shiva planted a trident to create 3 alpine lakes here and maybe he didn't, but I think that there's something to be said for believing unconditionally, without excuses and without self consciousness. It's so human of us, in a world increasingly defined by its inhumanity. Believing and loving and putting yourself out there hurts, but we'd rather ache because we're full than ache because we're empty. Ache because we're bored. I'd rather lean into this fear than let it shape me into a locked deadbolt.

Open all the doors, and the windows too. Let the air in. Don't let the world scare you into not caring. I don't think it's possible to be unafraid, and I don't think I want to be. I want to become comfortable with being a little less safe, to put myself out there and build a cairn at a lake because I believe in places that make you quiet even if I don't believe in tridents or marigold malas. I don't want to be scared of the connection that comes with full hearted belief. I don't want to be scared of the sacred.
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FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

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Sacred Spaces

Abi,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

Description

If each life is a universe, maybe fear is water – it shapes us and teaches us and gives us life, and sometimes it makes us crap our pants. I don’t think that fear is a bad thing, but I think we’re so used to safety that fear turns us into Bad People. I took […]

Posted On

12/3/16

Author

Abi

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    [post_content] => With the trip coming to an end and the thoughts of home rushing in, I realize just how special this experience has been. I know I have only said how wonderful this trip was and how it's bettered me as a person, but it can be reiterated enough in my opinion. It has done so much good for me, for the friends I have made on this trip, and the people we have come in to contact with, or at least I hope. Not only has it been wonderful but it has given me a new perspective, especially on the word home. The group keeps talking about all the things we are excited about when we get home and it's made me think "what does home really mean"? For me, the first thing I think of is my mom, my dad, my dog, my house, my girlfriend, all my friends and all the memories I associate with those things. But after that I think of how this little place, all the way on the other side of the world, has become just as comfortable as my home in Texas. The friends I have made have become part of my family. The instructors have treated me as if they were my legal guardians. The host families actually took me in and treated me as one of their own kids or brother. The streets have become just as familiar as the streets in my neighborhood. This has become my home, in a sense. So why can't every where be our home? Why does home have to be one exact location? If you can feel just as at home here as there then why is there a difference? I guess what I'm trying to say is that the whole world can be our home. Where ever we are happy, make memories, and live the way we want, we can call it home, even if that is in a city covered by dirt and trash. It still feels just as beautiful as Yosemite to me. This may just be me going on about something that is either very obvious or silly but it has struck a strong chord with me and really made me realize that I am a global citizen, and that is because of this trip. I really want to just thank Dragons for all the things they have done for me and the experiences that have been exposed to me. It's been one hell of a trip and I couldn't recommend it more. 10 out of 10.

p.s.

Can't wait to see you mom and dad/ Bree!!!

And shout out to the boys back at Elon for keeping in touch with me during the trip and letting me know I still got some love in NC. Hope to see you boys real soon! (special shout out to Kyle aka Mr. Lahey)
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FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

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Home

Franklin Tirrell,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

Description

With the trip coming to an end and the thoughts of home rushing in, I realize just how special this experience has been. I know I have only said how wonderful this trip was and how it’s bettered me as a person, but it can be reiterated enough in my opinion. It has done so […]

Posted On

12/3/16

Author

Franklin Tirrell

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-01 17:11:37
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    [post_content] => Dear Fall 2016 Himalayan Studies A Semester Students & Families,

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival!

Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families (all times are in local time zones):

Monday, December 5th

Etihad Airways # 293

Depart: Kathmandu, Nepal (KTM) 9:00 PM

Arrive: Abu Dhabi, UAE (AUH) 12:40 AM (+1 Day)

Tuesday, December 6th

Etihad Airways #103

Depart: Abu Dhabi, UAE (AUH) 3:20 AM

Arrive: New York, NY (JFK) 9:10 AM

We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day. Starting on Monday, December 5th, should you need any assistance after regular office hours, please call our “on-call” number at 303-921-6078.

We wish all students a great trip home!

Sincerely,

Boulder Admin

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FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

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RETURN FLIGHT INFORMATION

Eva Vanek,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

Description

Dear Fall 2016 Himalayan Studies A Semester Students & Families, It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Below is a reminder of the return […]

Posted On

12/1/16

Author

Eva Vanek

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    [post_date] => 2016-11-27 22:01:26
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    [post_content] => Hello Friends and Family,

This is to update you that there was a 5.5 earthquake at 5:00 am this morning in Nepal. The epicenter was in Namche Bazaar, which is east of Kathmandu. The group did feel the quake, but everyone is fine.

They finished their trek in the Gosainkund region a couple days early and are en route to their final transference site in the Terai, which is the southern belt of Nepal, bordering India. You can expect to see some student Field Notes posted soon!

Stay tuned...

 
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FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

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Earthquake in Nepal – group is safe

Shannon Harriman,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

Description

Hello Friends and Family, This is to update you that there was a 5.5 earthquake at 5:00 am this morning in Nepal. The epicenter was in Namche Bazaar, which is east of Kathmandu. The group did feel the quake, but everyone is fine. They finished their trek in the Gosainkund region a couple days early […]

Posted On

11/27/16

Author

Shannon Harriman

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An update from the team:

Today we are approaching the holy Gosaikunda lake! We're taking a rest day to acclimatize. Callie's birthday is tomorrow so we'll have a cake and a holy kora to celebrate.All is well!
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FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

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Trekking update…

Shannon Harriman,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies A

Description

An update from the team: Today we are approaching the holy Gosaikunda lake! We’re taking a rest day to acclimatize. Callie’s birthday is tomorrow so we’ll have a cake and a holy kora to celebrate.All is well!

Posted On

11/22/16

Author

Shannon Harriman

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