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    [post_content] => Dear Friends and Family, 

The Himalaya group has arrived in New York. Thank you for an amazing semester and enjoy the homecoming! 
    [post_title] => Himalaya Group Arrived in NYC
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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_date] => 2016-12-05 06:53:40
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    [post_content] => Dear families,

Students are checked in for their international flight to JFK! Five members of our group are departing on flights to different locations. Here's a photo of the remaining 7 at KTM airport!
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Students have entered security

Jeff Wagner,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

Description

Dear families, Students are checked in for their international flight to JFK! Five members of our group are departing on flights to different locations. Here’s a photo of the remaining 7 at KTM airport!

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Jeff Wagner

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    [post_content] => **This was written the day after reaching Mardi Himal Base Camp**

Over the past couple of days I have watched in awe as we ascended  through, and finally above the clouds. Standing on the mountain, we were looking down towards the clouds as if they were an expansive ocean beneath us. Every couple of minutes we heard the vicious sounds of rocks tumbling down a far off mountain face in the throes of an avalanche. Down the mountain side, our eyes rested upon a trickle of water that appeared minute enough that one could reach out and grasp it between two finger. This small fissure below us was in face roughly a thousand foot waterfall. This was all at once both humbling and empowering. The mountains have a special power to both knock your ego  down into place, but also to lift you up. In one instant you are both the human durable enough to push through to this logic defying height,boldly looking down at what most people will only ever see from below.Yet to this mountain you are nothing. A mere speck on its foreboding surface, This piece of earth that you are standing on has been here eons before you and will remain standing eons after you take your last breath, This mountain has seen more and has more knowledge that we can ever hope to possess. In the end, standing on that mountain, it is more than anything else, the mountain itself that we should owe our gratitude to for our being there. I am proud of my accomplishments,but I am not mistaken enough to believe that I made it there solely  due to my or any other human’s efforts. I made it there because the mountain graciously welcomed me. And we would all be gravely mistaken to think otherwise.
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FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

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Looking Down Toward the Clouds

Elise,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

Description

**This was written the day after reaching Mardi Himal Base Camp** Over the past couple of days I have watched in awe as we ascended  through, and finally above the clouds. Standing on the mountain, we were looking down towards the clouds as if they were an expansive ocean beneath us. Every couple of minutes […]

Posted On

12/3/16

Author

Elise

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    [post_content] => My first holiday celebrated in Nepal took place in the beginning of October. I was observing the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which happened to occur during my stay in Kopan Monastery, and more specifically during our two days of complete silence. I had spent the past couple of days pouring over the Buddhist prayer books, finding prayers that could be spliced and used in the context of Yom Kippur,the Jewish day of atonement. At the time I thought that for me this represented more an exercise in comparative religion than any actually spiritual meaning. But, at 5am on the morning of Yom Kippur, I found myself standing alone high up on the mountainside watching the sunrise and muttering these spliced Buddhist prayers under my breath. It was awkward and stumbling but also in its own way beautiful. When asked about how religious I am, I always tell people that I’m not“spiritually Jewish” so much as I am Jewish for the community and the traditions. Yet, something drove me to spend three days reading aBuddhist prayer book front to back, reading and rereading lines untilI had found ones that weren’t specific to any religion, but simply represented the human desire to apologize for the wrongs we have done and wish well unto others. And who knows, maybe the traditional rabbis would be sitting around “kvetching”, horrified by what I’d done, but for me, this cross referencing of religions and cultures allowed me to see that no matter where in the world they live, or who they’re praying to, or if they’re even praying at all, people will yearn for the same things in life. It may have taken sitting cross legged on the floor for hours in a Buddhist monastery to realize this, but perhap sit is due to that setting, that this was the most meaningful YomKippur I’d experienced.

In my time here in Nepal I have now celebrated three holidays. The first, I did so on my own, in silence, in a Buddhist monastery. The second, with the entire country of Nepal and the third, just last night in a mountain side village with 15 others from Dragons, a nine year old Nepali girl named Anu Maya and some Nepali women from the village. One Jewish holiday, one Nepali holiday and one American holiday.  And yet, all three imprinted the same message onto me again and again.
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FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

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A Jew in a Buddhist Monastery

Elise,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

Description

My first holiday celebrated in Nepal took place in the beginning of October. I was observing the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which happened to occur during my stay in Kopan Monastery, and more specifically during our two days of complete silence. I had spent the past couple of days pouring over the Buddhist prayer […]

Posted On

12/3/16

Author

Elise

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    [post_content] => Dear friends and family,

All of us as travelers have begun to see the world with new eyes. As we process our learning at our Transference retreat, we have been keenly aware that communicating that perspective shift can be difficult. We might have new world views, new attitudes, new beliefs. You might like some of our changes, like the fact that all of us are so full of gratitude. Some changes might seem quaint, like our adoration or dismissal of toilet paper. And you might struggle to watch us grasp for answers to the world’s biggest questions. For most of us, this has been the biggest adventure of our lives, and we have learned so much.

As you prepare to reunite with your daughter, your son, your loved one, your friend, we all request that you take time to receive us gently. We have seen a lot, learned so much, and changed in ways that might be obvious or subtle. In some ways, our journey is just beginning as we try to make sense of our learning in a new context, without this group that has grown into a big, loving family. We are sad to leave this place and these people, but we want you to know that we are excited to give you all big hugs.

Below are some thoughts from each member of our group that might help you to understand our experience and who is coming home to you.

Sending love from the great mountains,

The Himalaya B semester

 

In Nepal, I ...

In Nepal, I learned more than I have in longer than I can remember. It has given me context to so many things and shown me the world in a whole new light. I've grown internally in ways I realize now I really needed to. My world views have changed, so I’m sorry if I don’t agree with you anymore. I’ve found so many things here that I want to share with you too. So, be prepared for a little bit of overload. Most importantly though, in Nepal I found that people are the same here. Even when I went all the way across the world, the connections I made and the stories I heard all made me feel just as at home here as I’ve felt anywhere else.

In Nepal, I learned that I live in a bubble, physically, culturally, and politically: a bubble that is equal parts intelligence and ignorance. I acknowledged that my life is in desperate need of structure and discipline, and I now believe I have that intangible drive that will push me to be a giver instead of a taker for the first time in my life.

In Nepal, I was stripped of the comfortable norms I had spent my life growing too accustomed to. Like a kid on the playground, held by his toes and shaken up and down in search of lunch money, I was rattled. I watched my sense of self drop on the the Earth below my head, as limited as that sense was to begin with. I was taken back to the naked start, the grassroots of understanding this world and its people. I was introduced to a whole new idea of living, a rebirth into sustainable view and localized strength. I witnessed an ancient way of life in a new era that nobody really understands. I was dressed in a clean robe, woven from the threads of experience, humility, and a new sense of family.

In Nepal, I went on a journey to seek a great “perhaps”. I smiled fondly, walked tall, listened intently, and expanded my consciousness. I left behind my creature comforts and preconceived notions in order to find out what it meant to live simply, holistically, deeply, and truthfully. I turned into a critically analyzing, monastic living, yoga practicing, bus taking, Nepali speaking, Annapurna trekking, culture absorbing, daal bhat eating, passionate learning, question asking, truth questioning, tikka wearing, millet whacking, buffalo milking, self reflecting, goal driving, creative painting, milk tea drinking global citizen of a person. I opened new paths in my mind, heart, and soul to let it all in, drink up the experience, and let go of that which no longer serves me. In Nepal, I became a better me, a stronger me, a smarter me.

In Nepal, I nurtured my appreciation and respect for the arts. More specifically, during my time studying Paubha painting in Saziv’s workshop in Patan, I learned of the many powers of the arts: in enriching a culture, in beautifying a sacred space, in preserving wisdom, and most importantly—in my experience—in developing spiritual growth. Painting—along with all other art forms—requires patience and dedication. Every line, stroke, and shade is a concentration of the mind under meditation: an opportunity to clear your mind and allow your expression to be delivered to you onto the paper in front of you.

In Nepal, I conquered my fears, climbed some mountains, fell in love. With a land and a people, with new goals from old hopes, and new hopes from old goals. I saw myself melt in the heat of the Nepali ever-welcoming hospitality; I was remolded countless times by the hardships. The physical: violent sickness in an outhouse in the middle of the night (repeatedly), the calf cramps after hours of stair climbing in the muggy, edge-of-monsoon heat, weighted down with a backpack of jackets and notebooks filled to the brim with wonder. The emotional—nun’s unwavering spiritualism with questions of existence and love, long goodbyes to the families who briefly and wholeheartedly adopted us.

In Nepal, I learned many things, discovered a lot about myself, searched inward and saw the reflection on the outside.

In Nepal, I witnessed the power of family. My homestay sisters would sleep in the same room as their mother, who would sleep on the floor. After school, the two sisters would do homework in the same room, talking to each other, sharing jokes and songs. Sometimes you have to be in a new family to learn about your own.

In Nepal, I found a purpose, found a new family, found a new way of life, and found a new way to experience this life. I found a new religion and found many misconceptions I had about that religion. I found a new respect for a this way of of life and found patience for that way of life. I found the beauty of ancient technology and would like to bring it into everyday life. I re-found many things but most importantly my critical thinking and myself.

In Nepal, I experienced life. Life not of my own but of the world. The world in which we all live in, under the same shining stars and moonlit skies. Just like with every past experience, I look at how I behaved, acted, spoke, every minute here in Nepal. Not much has changed for me. I am still who I was the day before I left for Nepal. They guy who might be too chill for his own good. Yet I can already feel the first inklings of change within myself. I’ve gained a sense of purpose, a guiding light that will take me around the world in the years to come. It’s hard not to think of life as a personal experience, where you need to accomplish certain goals to be happy. Wandering the streets of a foreign city with minimal language capabilities of my own brought a sense of ease and comfort not created by daily schedules and routines. Seeing people on the streets going about their daily activities similar to people back home further solidified my understanding that all human beings are just trying to live their lives to the best of their own perceived abilities.

In Nepal, I learned. I learned more than I though I possibly could. I learned things I didn’t even know were an option to learn. I learned about a people, a place, its culture, its religion, their homes, their livelihood, their families, their values and their beliefs. I learned, but more importantly, I experienced and I interacted.

As I leave Nepal, I want you to know...

As I leave Nepal, I want you to know the first few weeks you must be gentle with me. It will be hard for me to adjust back to hundreds of choices, luxurious amenities, having communication instantly in the palm of my hand. I will be quieter than usual—but nothing is wrong, don’t worry. I‘ve just grown more observant, an active listener. I want you to know how happy I am, how much I’ve grown—and I may overshare or reminisce in too fond of ways about mystic Nepal—I know you will try to understand. Understand I may get frustrated when you can’t. You still have the right to put me in my place when I pretend to know everything now. I want you to support this improved me; give me space for my changes. I want to know you’re there still, because you’ve always been with me.

As I leave Nepal, I want you to know that I will forever be torn. Torn and thrown into the winds like the Tibetan Lung-ta (wind horse prayer flags) off the side of Machhapuchhre. I will be half home and half wandering. A stray. I will never fully return until I am sure of myself and what I am capable of achieving. I want you to know how I won’t seem as I did 3 months ago, 3 years ago. I will be torn, but somehow I will be more together than I ever have been. I’ll forever be on a search for an experience that will change me like Nepal did.

As I leave Nepal, I want you to know that no, I have not become a monk. I haven’t shaved my head or become a radical activist. the changes that you’ll see in me won’t be ones many people warned me of before I left. The changes are ones that I still can hardly understand myself. I am still the same person that left you, but after my world has been flipped upside down so fast and so often, it’s hard to put it back where I had it to begin with. The things I’ve learned and finally understand aren’t what I ever would have thought I would leave Nepal with. I’m sure you will have so many questions for me when I come home. I hope by the time I return I will have figured out how to answer them, because I still can’t explain some things to myself.

As I leave Nepal, I want you to know that my journey isn’t over. These next few years are the most crucial points in my life, and while this experience has given me hunger to succeed and become independent, I still can’t do it fully on my own. The cathedral is still being built, but it needs scaffolds so that the work may continue, onwards and upwards towards majesty.

As I leave Nepal, I want you to know that I’m going to need space to adjust to the drastically different scenery of home. Please don’t bombard me with questions, please don’t kindly offer me an overwhelming list of choices of foods to eat (as I will probably get sick since the only thing I have eaten for the past 3 months is daal bhat). Be patient. Give me time to unpack my bag as well as my thoughts and feelings of having departed from the beautiful, warm, and colorful Nepal.

As I leave Nepal, I want you to know that I’m not going to have to relearn how to cross the street. Please help me. :)

As I leave Nepal, I want you to know I will be returning one day. I may not seem that different at first, but I promise I am. I have found new purpose and will want to do new things. I am leaving many new friends and family here and all the memories and emotions that these amazing people brought me. Upon return, I will be having daal bhat and mo:mo: withdrawals... sorry.

As I leave Nepal, I want you to know that I found the meaning of a cultural moral; the confusion which had built up has become a little more clear.

As I leave Nepal, I want you to know I am still the person you know. Nothing much has changed.

As I leave Nepal, I want you to know that for not one moment during which I lost myself in the overwhelming power of the mountains; in the dance and rage of fire, light and flowers of festivals; in the heavy-hearted light and chill of pensive dusks; in the swell and surge of newfound gratitudes—not during any of these times did I forget all you have done to get me here. “Here”: a faith in renewal, a trust in my fogged ways, and patience for the clearing. And I want you to know that I return to you older, wiser, stronger, braver, but most of all endlessly grateful for you. For all the times I fell, you faltered none, and that is why I am able to climb that mountains that I do today.

As I leave Nepal, I want you to know that I’m so appreciative for this opportunity and can’t wait to continue using all I have learned once I get home.

As I leave Nepal, I want you to know I’ve experienced mystery and mysticism, introspection and interactions I never though I’d experience. But as I come back home, I have never been more excited for homecooking and Chinese food, snowy fields and ocean waves. I’m ready to experience everything I can in my wintry home. I miss you.
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View post

Final Thoughts From Our Group

Jeff Wagner,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

Description

Dear friends and family, All of us as travelers have begun to see the world with new eyes. As we process our learning at our Transference retreat, we have been keenly aware that communicating that perspective shift can be difficult. We might have new world views, new attitudes, new beliefs. You might like some of […]

Posted On

12/3/16

Author

Jeff Wagner

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-03 10:55:50
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            Nearing our final steps of our 16-day trek, we stopped by a sloshing stream of water to reflect on our long journey. This flowing river was an ideal location for self-reflection: Not so much because of its noisy downpour which evoked an inaudible space of solitude, but more so because of what we can learn from simply observing this fast-moving river.

            We perched our sore tan bodies onto the gentle cold rocks scattered along the river’s path and pulled out our journals. I began as I always do, thinking: “Hm…what to write about.” Sixteen days had zoomed by and I couldn’t think of anything to reflect on from my journey. I resorted, then, to rest my stare upon the gentle stream ahead of me, which, in response, taught me and inspired me on what to journal.

            In no two seconds is this river the same. This flowing stream—as all nature—is ever changing, impermanent. Like the river, we too are always changing: We may get caught in whirlpools, split between boulders, rushed by cliffs, stuttered by algae.

            What most differentiates us from the river, however, is the responsibility that accompanies our change. Impermanence is natural, but how we go about with it is in our control. It is up to us to direct our change the way we choose for it to move. While change is unavoidable, direction is our choice.

            While trekking—as a literal example—we were constantly moving: passing by different landscapes, stepping over new surfaces. Despite the endless beautiful views offered to us by nature, at the end of the day, it is solely our attitude that shapes our experience.

Being my first trek, I was unsure of what to expect of such a long journey, although I had quite high expectations. The long tiresome walks, however, disappointed me. My steps became monotone, and frankly, at times I felt quite bored. I felt that my surroundings were supposed to change me, make me feel something.

It was only after waking up with gratitude one morning feeling healthy—finally recovered from unpleasant GI issues that I had started the trek with—that I realized the only thing hindering my experience was my attitude. I soon let go on waiting for the surrounding nature to change me, and began instead to simply admire and appreciate it. By taking the control of adopting a more positive perspective, the external as well as internal changes that were constantly unfolding helped me grow.

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FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

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Trek Reflection

Julieta Menendez,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

Description

            Nearing our final steps of our 16-day trek, we stopped by a sloshing stream of water to reflect on our long journey. This flowing river was an ideal location for self-reflection: Not so much because of its noisy downpour which evoked an inaudible space of solitude, but more so because of what we can […]

Posted On

12/3/16

Author

Julieta Menendez

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    [post_content] => Dear Fall 2016 Himalayan Studies B 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 B

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RETURN FLIGHT INFORMATION

Eva Vanek,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

Description

Dear Fall 2016 Himalayan Studies B 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 22:02:10
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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 is totally safe and currently around 250 km west of Kathmandu in their rural homestay. They will be heading to their final transference site in a couple of days. You can expect to see some student Field Notes posted soon!

Stay tuned...
    [post_title] => Earthquake in Nepal - group is safe...
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FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

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Earthquake in Nepal – group is safe…

Shannon Harriman,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

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 is totally safe and currently around 250 km west of Kathmandu in their rural homestay. They will be heading to […]

Posted On

11/27/16

Author

Shannon Harriman

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    [post_content] => 11/10 11:00AM Siding Camp
I still can’t get over the clouds. We spent two nights living above a floor of clouds
and a ceiling of heaven. High Camp of Mardi Himal rests at the tip of the earth. Amrit, our Nepali guide and instructor, woke us up the other day at a 6am, when the stars had just begun to fade into the pastel sky, shouting “heaven meets earth!”; he was just as astonished by our puffy cloud floor.

11/12
We spent last night camped out on the edge of rice paddies and temples and water
buffalo fields, and it struck me then, as I watched the last sunlight pass across the river. We were in Asia. The Asia of the past, of fairytales. Time moves more slowly here than anywhere else in the world. In the morning, the fog sticks close to the river, and fades with the sun. The past few nights the moon has been nearly full and it bounces across the cloudy sky so luminescent barely a star is visible. I’m staring at a façade, a natural quarry wall, which was probably formed by glaciers however many years ago. Everything I see is amazing.

11/12 9:00PM Sitting on Rocks By River
I wish I had a raft. In the daylight chaos, the river’s speed and noise didn’t seem
so intense. Now, with nothing else awake but the river, it dominates all perceptions. Although it’s incredibly loud, it still feels a bit like white noise. It’s made me nostalgic for something I didn’t even know I missed --- the relentless crash of ocean waves at home.

11/16 10:00AM
I’ve been thinking about places, location, homes. These mountains I’m staring at
I’m taking for granted now, but they’re probably 100x the height of anything in the entire state of Massachusetts. Even than anywhere in the Rockies --- these mountains I’m watching dominate the world.

11/17 5:00PM Sunset over Rice Paddies
The last bit of pink snow is leaving. The pretty pastels will soon fade from the tip
of the tallest peak. After, lavender skies will outline the snow. The way it bounces out against the lavender backdrop makes it look like construction paper collages taped to the horizon. This is the last sunset I will maybe ever see this close to the Annapurna range. It’s a land so fierce and so sacred no one has ever seen the sunset from the peak’s perspective. After 14 days of the same beautiful event repeated daily, I’m trying to immerse myself in the last of it. There’s a certain clarity only available right now, and I’ve come to rely on it. I’ve been thinking about sacred spaces more and how sometimes they’re not even places but a feeling. Even when I’m continents away, I’ll hold that feeling close.
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FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

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An Amalgam of Journal Notes/Observations on Pretty Things

Ellen Brooks,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

Description

11/10 11:00AM Siding Camp I still can’t get over the clouds. We spent two nights living above a floor of clouds and a ceiling of heaven. High Camp of Mardi Himal rests at the tip of the earth. Amrit, our Nepali guide and instructor, woke us up the other day at a 6am, when the stars […]

Posted On

11/26/16

Author

Ellen Brooks

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    [post_content] => As the trek ends I call upon what I am carrying and also what I am trying to let go of. Sitting by the raging river, I can hear nothing but the rushing water. The sound of the birds, the bamboo trees, wind on the snow capped peaks, my own breath- all fall short of the power of the water. It collects below me in sunlit pools.

Anyone who says “there is nothing there” is one who is really saying “I cannot see”. As the distance between me and the mountain grew smaller, the vastness of life, lessons, tears, trails, cold nights and hot coffee grew larger. The stars grew brighter, the sunsets pink-er, talking quieter-but saying more. I have learned so much about myself over the past 16 days on the trek, and I cannot believe that my time in Nepal is almost over. Yet, maybe I have actually learned more about others. Learned about my relationship to people, land and culture. My relationship to change, evolution, to letting go and even welcoming in. I know that I must go gently, but with dignity. Do no harm, but take no shit.

For, I have seen the sunset atop Machupuchre,walked through the dense jungles, tanned my face in the Nepali sun, carried my belongings on my back, washed my face in the rivers and watched the stars turn around The Milky Way. How dare anyone belittle the power of the wilderness to anything but an unforgettable, transformative, back broadening, hand strengthening, mind clearing, mood altering, adrenaline pumping, tea drinking, sunset stoking, breath taking adventure. One where the words will never quite fit right. I will truly miss this place, and the impact that these grand rocky demi-gods have left upon me.
Yet, I have come to realize that it was never about getting to point A or to point B, or dinner time or dish duty. It was never about completing the trek or the day or even just getting to camp. It was about the journey-for it has always been about the journey, never only the pursuit of the destination. If it were that easy there would be no need to try, we could gain all our dreams in one day- but what would that even feel like? Its all about the journey, and an odd feeling of somehow coming home.
    [post_title] => The Wild Himalayas; Cold toes in sleeping bags and warm tea at sunset.
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FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

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The Wild Himalayas; Cold toes in sleeping bags and warm tea at sunset.

Madison Harding,FALL: Nepal: Himalayan Studies B

Description

As the trek ends I call upon what I am carrying and also what I am trying to let go of. Sitting by the raging river, I can hear nothing but the rushing water. The sound of the birds, the bamboo trees, wind on the snow capped peaks, my own breath- all fall short of […]

Posted On

11/24/16

Author

Madison Harding

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