Photo of the Week
Photo Title


WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 127622
    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2015-10-31 08:33:43
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-31 14:33:43
    [post_content] => Life along the river is slow. There is no need for hustle and bustle; all corners of the community can be reached in minutes on foot. There is no excessive activity; the heat of the day--which often reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit--necessitates restful afternoons.
Life along the river is never rushed, but life along the river is highly efficient. In this community of 38 families, everybody knows his or her role. Food is harvested and hunted bountifully, then cooked to perfection. At mealtimes, tables are filled with pasteles, cuñape, fresh fruits and vegetables, lentils, rice, and chicken. Children study daily at the school their parents and siblings have constructed, and work themselves to make improvements to the building. When it rains, community members build ditches around houses so that the rain water will not seep into the floors. When someone is sick, another community member will go into the jungle and prepare a natural remedy. When a meeting is set for a certain time, all community members are highly punctual, despite the fact that most do not own watches. When the community gets its yearly donation from Dragons, they collectively decide how to spend that money--last year´s purchase was a machine to facilitate the grinding of rice.

Earlier this semester, Veronica asked us why we travel to these communities. Why do we elect to spend time in conditions we might find uncomfortable? What do we gain from meeting people who are accustomed to living with less capital than we are? I struggled to find an answer. I still struggle. To say that we merely want to "observe" a different way of life is dehumanizing at best, and voyeuristic at worst. To say that living in these conditions forces us to be thankful for what we have back at home is as degrading as it is cliche.

Asuncion gave me some answers. I realized that this small, incredibly rural community had a lot to teach our group.

Most of us live in or near a city. We are used to having our needs easily met, and having to focus on our wants. We lead hectic lives; for me, this year of travel was a mental health break between an anxiety-provoking year of high school and an undoubtedly stressful year of college. We are so used to making ourselves busy, with fulfilling our wants which far outweigh our needs. And--warning: cliche statement ahead--with all of our technology to keep us connected, we are terrible at communication. Observing the people of Asuncion and how seamlessly they came together to make decisions, I felt mildly embarrassed at how long it has taken our group to decide where to go for lunch some days. Experiencing a few days of a simple, need-based life reminded me that ninety-nine percent of what stresses me out on a daily basis is in no way essential to my survival.

I´d like to believe that during my time in Asuncion I was observing this unfamiliar life not to observe people who were lacking things that I am used to, but to understand the qualities that I am lacking, both as an individual and as a part of my society, and to learn from people who have so much figured out.
    [post_title] => Observations from Asuncion
    [post_excerpt] => 
    [post_status] => publish
    [comment_status] => closed
    [ping_status] => closed
    [post_password] => 
    [post_name] => observations-from-asuncion
    [to_ping] => 
    [pinged] => 
    [post_modified] => 2015-10-31 08:33:43
    [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-31 14:33:43
    [post_content_filtered] => 
    [post_parent] => 0
    [guid] => https://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=127622
    [menu_order] => 0
    [post_type] => post
    [post_mime_type] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [filter] => raw
    [categories] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 114
                    [name] => Andes & Amazon A
                    [slug] => andes-amazon-a-fall-2015
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 114
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 236
                    [count] => 163
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 4.1
                    [cat_ID] => 114
                    [category_count] => 163
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Andes & Amazon A
                    [category_nicename] => andes-amazon-a-fall-2015
                    [category_parent] => 236
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2015/andes-amazon-a-fall-2015/
                )

            [1] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 57
                    [name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [slug] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 57
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 488
                    [count] => 38
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 34.1
                    [cat_ID] => 57
                    [category_count] => 38
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [category_nicename] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [category_parent] => 488
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/program-components/focus-of-inquiry/
                )

            [2] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 45
                    [name] => Rugged Travel
                    [slug] => rugged-travel
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 45
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 488
                    [count] => 66
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 34.1
                    [cat_ID] => 45
                    [category_count] => 66
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Rugged Travel
                    [category_nicename] => rugged-travel
                    [category_parent] => 488
                )

        )

    [category_links] => Andes & Amazon A, Focus of Inquiry  ... 
)

Andes & Amazon A, Focus of Inquiry, Rugged Travel

View post

Observations from Asuncion

Ilana Goldberg ,Andes & Amazon A, Focus of Inquiry, Rugged Travel

Description

Life along the river is slow. There is no need for hustle and bustle; all corners of the community can be reached in minutes on foot. There is no excessive activity; the heat of the day–which often reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit–necessitates restful afternoons. Life along the river is never rushed, but life along the river […]

Posted On

10/31/15

Author

Ilana Goldberg

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 126891
    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2015-10-11 17:52:40
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-11 23:52:40
    [post_content] => Four taxis crammed to the brim with backpacks and tents and souvenirs and students through late night Cuzco, an 8 hour overnight bus ride, a border crossing, a traffic jam, two more eight hour bus rides, and another hour long taxi ride, and we arrived in Bolivia, 28hrs later, at 2am, bleary eyed and sweaty and ready for sleep. So when we decided to have a slow morning the next day and eat a good breakfast and arrive late to the climate conference, we didn't know what we'd be missing, or what we'd be arriving just in time for.
A supposedly 1km walk turned into an hour, our Andean acclimatized skin reddening in the hot sun, and after passing endless barricades and a quick lunch we were ready to enter the gate, registration and passport numbers in hand. But then a line of people passed, dressed in earth toned traditional clothing, each holding a bowl of flames, smoke pouring out like a ritual blessing. After so many hours trapped behind glass on endless bus rides, it seemed a mirage, and the spectacle became even more accentuated when bulbs started flashing bright lights. 
We edged in and I heard a voice say "That's Evo!" and another reply "No way." Sure enough we peered closer and there was Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, just inches away from us, looking us in the eye as he passed, (Conner says he greeted him personally, saying 'bon jour' to him in those quick moments). No security detail, no backpack searches, no fancy banquet reception tickets necessary. "What should we do!?," I heard a student say. Without a word we all filed in tight behind him and followed him as he turned right, down a long red carpet.
At the end of the carpet we reached a building, the entrance way decorated in live plants and billowing yards of white sheer fabric. We were turned away, but only because we were steps away from joining him backstage. They pointed us to the main entrance and soon we were seated in a large hall filled with flags waving from a dozen different countries, the Incan rainbow, organizations brandishing their colors. We thought we were headed to a small conference with local working groups where we would have to translate lots of opinions in small desk filled classrooms and here we were in a huge assembly hall with the world's first indigenous president, along with over a dozen other delegates from various countries on stage in front of us, translator headsets on, the crowd greeting the panel with roaring chants of "Mar para Bolivia!", straight backs and a stunned looked on all of our faces. And then, as Evo declared that the damage of Mother Earth comes from the industries that are designed to end life and that we must recover the relationship between life and Mother Earth, a camera, shooting live video of audience members, displays the 10-ft tall concentrated and smiling faces of Austin and Tobey on a screen directly behind him, practically looking over his shoulder. 
Thus began our first day in Bolivia. Can't wait to see what other magic is in store.   *photo credit to Ryan! [post_title] => Surprise! [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => surprise-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-08 16:17:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-08 23:17:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=126891 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 36 [name] => Best Notes From The Field [slug] => best-notes-from-the-field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 36 [taxonomy] => category [description] => These pieces of travel writing are reflections by students and instructors traveling all over the world. They exemplify the open-minded spirit of exploration and self-discovery on a Dragons course. [parent] => 0 [count] => 503 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 0 [cat_ID] => 36 [category_count] => 503 [category_description] => These pieces of travel writing are reflections by students and instructors traveling all over the world. They exemplify the open-minded spirit of exploration and self-discovery on a Dragons course. [cat_name] => Best Notes From The Field [category_nicename] => best-notes-from-the-field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/best-notes-from-the-field/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 115 [name] => Andes & Amazon B [slug] => andes-amazon-b-fall-2015 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 115 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 236 [count] => 159 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4.1 [cat_ID] => 115 [category_count] => 159 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Andes & Amazon B [category_nicename] => andes-amazon-b-fall-2015 [category_parent] => 236 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2015/andes-amazon-b-fall-2015/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 57 [name] => Focus of Inquiry [slug] => focus-of-inquiry [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 57 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 38 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 57 [category_count] => 38 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Focus of Inquiry [category_nicename] => focus-of-inquiry [category_parent] => 488 ) ) [category_links] => Best Notes From The Field, Andes & Amazon B ... )
View post

Surprise!

Jen Hyde,Best Notes From The Field, Andes & Amazon B, Focus of Inquiry

Description

Four taxis crammed to the brim with backpacks and tents and souvenirs and students through late night Cuzco, an 8 hour overnight bus ride, a border crossing, a traffic jam, two more eight hour bus rides, and another hour long taxi ride, and we arrived in Bolivia, 28hrs later, at 2am, bleary eyed and sweaty […]

Posted On

10/11/15

Author

Jen Hyde

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 126717
    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2015-10-07 08:40:23
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-07 14:40:23
    [post_content] => Our days in Kathmandu have started to fall into a pattern. Tasks that initially stretched the limits of our comfort zones, such as traversing across the city on public transport, or interacting with homestay grandmas in a combination of body language and broken Nepali, has become routine. The new challenge that we decided to open up this week is more of an intellectual one, as we started exploring the deeply complex and much-contested topic of International Development.

Our discussions had different entry points – a snapshot of global inequality represented with biscuits, an understanding of the complex and loaded terms we use to describe poverty and disadvantage, and a series of ever-deepening questions to challenge our perspectives. The questions that came from the group included: Are there enough resources in the world? Does everyone want development? Is it human nature to be selfish? Why does inequality exist - and what can be done about it?

Actions that we assume at first must be “good,” turn out to be more complicated upon further inspection. Building a school, giving clean water to a slum, donating to an orphanage: all these are actions for development, right? But what if the school stands empty without teachers or running costs? What if the slum is populated with earthquake victims who would rather have a clean water supply back in their village? What if the orphanage is corrupt and responsible for trafficking children?

Our discussions this week have been rich, and the diversity of opinions and perspectives within the group has been an asset. The conversations have been buzzing and each one has closed with many more questions than we started with. And as we sit down for a delicious dal bhat lunch cooked for us by Pemba dai and Nima didi, it has not been uncommon for the same topics to re-emerge or for even more complex issues to be thrown into the mix.

Yesterday, the question at lunchtime was: “If this is all so complicated - what CAN we do?” The answer was provided by another member of the group: “Well, I guess we can start by just asking that question.”
    [post_title] => Getting deep and critical
    [post_excerpt] => 
    [post_status] => publish
    [comment_status] => closed
    [ping_status] => closed
    [post_password] => 
    [post_name] => getting-deep-and-critical
    [to_ping] => 
    [pinged] => 
    [post_modified] => 2015-10-07 08:40:23
    [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-07 14:40:23
    [post_content_filtered] => 
    [post_parent] => 0
    [guid] => https://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=126717
    [menu_order] => 0
    [post_type] => post
    [post_mime_type] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [filter] => raw
    [categories] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 118
                    [name] => Himalaya A
                    [slug] => himalaya-a-fall-2015
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 118
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 236
                    [count] => 100
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 4.1
                    [cat_ID] => 118
                    [category_count] => 100
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Himalaya A
                    [category_nicename] => himalaya-a-fall-2015
                    [category_parent] => 236
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2015/himalaya-a-fall-2015/
                )

            [1] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 57
                    [name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [slug] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 57
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 488
                    [count] => 38
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 34.1
                    [cat_ID] => 57
                    [category_count] => 38
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [category_nicename] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [category_parent] => 488
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/program-components/focus-of-inquiry/
                )

            [2] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 47
                    [name] => Survey of Development Issues
                    [slug] => survey-of-development-issues
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 47
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 488
                    [count] => 57
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 34.1
                    [cat_ID] => 47
                    [category_count] => 57
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Survey of Development Issues
                    [category_nicename] => survey-of-development-issues
                    [category_parent] => 488
                )

        )

    [category_links] => Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry  ... 
)

Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

View post

Getting deep and critical

Germaine, Amrit, Caitlin, Claire,Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

Description

Our days in Kathmandu have started to fall into a pattern. Tasks that initially stretched the limits of our comfort zones, such as traversing across the city on public transport, or interacting with homestay grandmas in a combination of body language and broken Nepali, has become routine. The new challenge that we decided to open […]

Posted On

10/7/15

Author

Germaine, Amrit, Caitlin, Claire

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 121620
    [post_author] => 24
    [post_date] => 2015-07-07 09:23:03
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-07-07 15:23:03
    [post_content] => 

It has only been a few days and already I feel that my entire existence is India. Surrounded by endless beauty and tragedy with sights, smells and touches that mark a culture so incredibly diverse from those of my upbringing, I am awoken to what I believe to be at the very core of what makes us human. There was something so incredible that happened to me not two minutes after stepping out of the airport in Delhi: I was greeted by our Indian guide Sunil, and, after very brief conversation with this wonderful young man and letting him know about my plans to travel throughout India after the program ends he offered me his home. A man I’d never met offered to shelter, feed and care for me as if I were his family, and he barely even knew my name. This is true compassion, this comes from the heart. I see the power of the heart as the strongest in the world, love our driving force.  The heart contains a power and wisdom infinite in us all. I could go off about all the nuances of culture and religion and architecture that make Americans so different from Indians, but I think it is much more valuable to reflect on all the things that make us the same. Our potential for love, compassion, empathy, unity, our ability to care for one another when we need it most, to help those who are down even when we aren’t certain we know how to stand, the very thing that drove Sunil to bring me, a stranger, into his home. We all want to be loved, and in turn I believe deep down we all want to give love. As many wise men and women have said, “the only way to be truly happy is to help another”, I could not agree more and have found this to be a most certain truth in my own life.

Walking down the streets in India I view every person I meet as a member of my larger collective family, we are all borne of the same blood. I smile and it is reciprocated. Such a simple act speaks more than words – it is language unclasped by the limits of words. This kind of communication flows deep within me. Smiling with honest care and intention creates a warmth in me and a warmth I can sense in those I share it with. Often in America I see people walking down the street avoiding contact, stuck in their own individual world… I encourage those brave enough to try smiling more, not for others but for your own peace. If it is done with sincerity the effect will be both mutual and undeniable. My brief time in India has been incredible. When one lives presently, every moment gains the potential to be beautiful: beautifully joyous when we celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday in Dharamsala; beautifully stimulating when engaged in complex and spiritual conversation roaming through seas of contemplative and unanswerable questions; beautifully mesmerizing sitting in the bus for long rides through towering mountain tops with snow-capped peaks and lush green valleys; beautifully satiating over endless momos and Crispy Dish; beautifully weird when your first night of Homestay is spent eating a casual dinner with your host father over Sex and The City 2; beautifully intense when stuck in the middle of the highway in Delhi with cars and motorcycles flying by seemingly oblivious to any sense of traffic law; beautifully painful when you are challenged with endless parties of starving children begging, and young women holding a diseased child in her arms, desperate for a meal. Beauty exists all around, and with the right eyes everything has the potential for beauty, every moment can be a lesson and every life can be one that is truly and undeniably beautiful, it is all in how you perceive it.   [post_title] => Beauty [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => beauty-4 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-01-20 16:32:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-20 23:32:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=121620 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 93 [name] => North India 6-week [slug] => north-india-6-week-summer-2015 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 93 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 255 [count] => 71 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 5.1 [cat_ID] => 93 [category_count] => 71 [category_description] => [cat_name] => North India 6-week [category_nicename] => north-india-6-week-summer-2015 [category_parent] => 255 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2015/north-india-6-week-summer-2015/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 57 [name] => Focus of Inquiry [slug] => focus-of-inquiry [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 57 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 38 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 57 [category_count] => 38 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Focus of Inquiry [category_nicename] => focus-of-inquiry [category_parent] => 488 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/program-components/focus-of-inquiry/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 47 [name] => Survey of Development Issues [slug] => survey-of-development-issues [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 47 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 57 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 47 [category_count] => 57 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Survey of Development Issues [category_nicename] => survey-of-development-issues [category_parent] => 488 ) ) [category_links] => North India 6-week, Focus of Inquiry ... )
View post

Beauty

Benjamin Goodbody,North India 6-week, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

Description

It has only been a few days and already I feel that my entire existence is India. Surrounded by endless beauty and tragedy with sights, smells and touches that mark a culture so incredibly diverse from those of my upbringing, I am awoken to what I believe to be at the very core of what […]

Posted On

07/7/15

Author

Benjamin Goodbody

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 117442
    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2015-04-14 10:18:59
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-04-14 16:18:59
    [post_content] => When asked who their best friend is a student may reply with a single name or maybe if they have been blessed a group of three or four but we never ask ourselves, what is the academics students’ best friend? For these two people do not share much in common. One needs sunlight and three meals a day while the other, the academic student, needs 4 pots of coffee, 3 packets of ramen noodles and 2 hours of sleep. This student no longer has one home, a cozy dorm room, but now almost as if a bird on their annual migration they migrate. They find themselves drawn to one room in the library that they will call home for the next week. So who is their best friend? Do they really have friends in this state? Is their best friend the same as before? My argument is no. Their best friend is now Wikipedia. Now why Wikipedia one may ask? And more importantly how could this relate to a yak about Nepal and my experience being a researcher for the movie our RS class put together? Well it does and now you must continue on to find out why!

So this student, and no not the normal cozy dorm room student, the academic student who can’t drink water for the fear it may dilute the coffee that was just put into their system is me in this final week in Katmandu. I have made what some would call a not so smart idea and taken two accredited classes that both end during the same period in Katmandu with both having final projects due on close to the same date. One class is my ISP which will have its own yak being put up in the next few days so we will focus on the RS class and the movie we decided to put together.

We worked as a group of 8 with four of us being accredited students. The four accredited students; myself, Brian, Aiden, and the person who will probably scold me for forgetting them are working with Ben, Isabel, Nicole, and Meg. Together we took on the ambitious project of having a well researched short film on Boudha using interviews of local Nepalese at Boudha as the main body of the movie. The kicker? We have two weeks to put it together. We divided and concurred as one must in a situation such as this left me with the research aspect of this project. Sadly as the title entails it involved me sitting at a computer looking at a screen and compiling information for our video from reputable sources. Yet where does one start when looking up something they know nothing about? Well just like someone who is in a situation and don’t know what to do they ask their best friend. Wikipedia as usual did not let me down in giving me every single smidgen of information one could ever possibly need to know about Boudha but sadly it will let every student down in the same way. It is not a credible source. This is the downfall of Wikipedia yet where one friend lets you down others step into their shoes and does an even better job. This friend is scholar.google.com. For those who do not know what that it is it is the source of all credible knowledge that one will ever need with the searching power of Google. A simple few strokes and the entire sodden all the information one may ever need on Tibetan refuges in Nepal surges to the screen and credible source after credible source appears. It is borderline black magic.

Although I may portray this as a one man battle against the odds with me becoming victorious but it was not a one person battle. The cyber-cafe I did work at had a master chef whose name was Ben. This chef was an expert mixed chow mein cooker as well as mo-mo master and dabbled with hot lemon with honey on the side. I not only had a master chef serving me a comedian was by my side most of the time providing relief. Actually not just one comedian and it is thanks to Ryan C as well and Aiden that I was kept sane during this endeavor. It was quite enjoyable in the end and I may have eaten more chow mein in this week than any other in my life but overall I had a great time and hopefully we will find a way to post this film to the yak board!
    [post_title] => The Academic Students Best Friend
    [post_excerpt] => 
    [post_status] => publish
    [comment_status] => closed
    [ping_status] => closed
    [post_password] => 
    [post_name] => the-academic-students-best-friend
    [to_ping] => 
    [pinged] => 
    [post_modified] => 2015-04-14 10:18:59
    [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-04-14 16:18:59
    [post_content_filtered] => 
    [post_parent] => 0
    [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=117442
    [menu_order] => 0
    [post_type] => post
    [post_mime_type] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [filter] => raw
    [categories] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 26
                    [name] => Himalaya A
                    [slug] => himalaya-a-spring-2015
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 26
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 237
                    [count] => 168
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 6.1
                    [cat_ID] => 26
                    [category_count] => 168
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Himalaya A
                    [category_nicename] => himalaya-a-spring-2015
                    [category_parent] => 237
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2015/himalaya-a-spring-2015/
                )

            [1] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 57
                    [name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [slug] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 57
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 488
                    [count] => 38
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 34.1
                    [cat_ID] => 57
                    [category_count] => 38
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [category_nicename] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [category_parent] => 488
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/program-components/focus-of-inquiry/
                )

        )

    [category_links] => Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry
)

Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry

View post

The Academic Students Best Friend

Jack Rohr,Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry

Description

When asked who their best friend is a student may reply with a single name or maybe if they have been blessed a group of three or four but we never ask ourselves, what is the academics students’ best friend? For these two people do not share much in common. One needs sunlight and three […]

Posted On

04/14/15

Author

Jack Rohr

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 117208
    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2015-04-06 09:54:08
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-04-06 15:54:08
    [post_content] => Remember a couple weeks ago when the student’s posted their Humans of Kathmandu excursions? Those were just the tip of the iceberg. What the students were really working on was sensory ethnographies. The posts you see here marked as “RSSE” (Regional Studies Sensory Ethnography) are short glimpses into the lives of people the students met, interviewed, and documented with audio and visual instruments.

The students’ production process began with thematic areas of their interest such as love, family, labor, and place. From there they developed questions and prompts aimed at evoking stories from the people interviewed. Their assignment was to produce a narrative.

The students picked locations like Hanuman Dhoka and Bouddha Stupa with Intern Salim Ali. Salim took them to their location and facilitated introductions, production technique, interviews, and translation. He also helped the students gain informed consent for the subjects’ stories to be documented and shared.

The students used video and still photography as well as audio recording to produce the sensory ethnographies you see here. After their excursions, the students wrote transcripts of the interviews they wanted to produce and scripted the visual and audio clips to weave together with the stories. Hopefully they give you a look at real lives as well as the students’ contact with them.

These stories fit into a longer arc of Regional Studies assignments like the storyboard PDFs they made while in Baruwa village and sensory compositions from the beginning of the course.  They are working on their final project now. I won’t spoil that piece; but I can tell you that it is a place-based exploration of Bouddha with the theme of Refuge. Perhaps you will see the roots of that in this work.

Enjoy!

 
    [post_title] => Sensory Ethnographies for Regional Studies
    [post_excerpt] => 
    [post_status] => publish
    [comment_status] => closed
    [ping_status] => closed
    [post_password] => 
    [post_name] => sensory-ethnographies-for-regional-studies
    [to_ping] => 
    [pinged] => 
    [post_modified] => 2015-04-06 09:54:08
    [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-04-06 15:54:08
    [post_content_filtered] => 
    [post_parent] => 0
    [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=117208
    [menu_order] => 0
    [post_type] => post
    [post_mime_type] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [filter] => raw
    [categories] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 26
                    [name] => Himalaya A
                    [slug] => himalaya-a-spring-2015
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 26
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 237
                    [count] => 168
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 6.1
                    [cat_ID] => 26
                    [category_count] => 168
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Himalaya A
                    [category_nicename] => himalaya-a-spring-2015
                    [category_parent] => 237
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2015/himalaya-a-spring-2015/
                )

            [1] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 57
                    [name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [slug] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 57
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 488
                    [count] => 38
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 34.1
                    [cat_ID] => 57
                    [category_count] => 38
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [category_nicename] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [category_parent] => 488
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/program-components/focus-of-inquiry/
                )

            [2] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 47
                    [name] => Survey of Development Issues
                    [slug] => survey-of-development-issues
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 47
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 488
                    [count] => 57
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 34.1
                    [cat_ID] => 47
                    [category_count] => 57
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Survey of Development Issues
                    [category_nicename] => survey-of-development-issues
                    [category_parent] => 488
                )

        )

    [category_links] => Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry  ... 
)

Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

View post

Sensory Ethnographies for Regional Studies

Chris Limburg,Himalaya A, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

Description

Remember a couple weeks ago when the student’s posted their Humans of Kathmandu excursions? Those were just the tip of the iceberg. What the students were really working on was sensory ethnographies. The posts you see here marked as “RSSE” (Regional Studies Sensory Ethnography) are short glimpses into the lives of people the students met, […]

Posted On

04/6/15

Author

Chris Limburg

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 117001
    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2015-04-01 17:50:52
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-04-01 23:50:52
    [post_content] => Being here in Tiquipaya settling back into our homestay routines, it feels as if we never left. We have returned with photos, copious amounts of bug bites and closer bonds, but was it real? Did our three week excursion from the Andes to the Amazon actually happen?

We started our journey in the snowy mountains of the Bolivian Andes, where we found unparalleled beauty but a rather familiar landscape. For our group (minus the instructors) the Amazon was a new and mysterious place known only to us through text books and television shows. As we descended on the Camino Del Oro I was lost in a world of flora and fauna unlike anything I had ever seen.

We all came into the Amazon with our preconceived notions, some of which included: the Amazon is hot, buggy, consists of a dense forest and a large muddy river, and it is inhabited by scarce communities. All of these were comfirmed (although it was much hotter and buggier than anticipated), but the most important part of our time in the Amazon was that we learned it was more than just a unique ecosystem and place to look for animals.

When learning about the devastating history of the rubber industry, we saw that the Amazon was a land of trees that not only bled their rubber milk but have witnessed the annihilation of countless indigenous peoples. Suddenly the Amazon was not just a place of rarest beauty but a place of suffering and hardship, a place that cannot be defined by a single story. Although we will never be able to fully understand what these people and this land went through, studying this history gives us access to a laboratory of human experience, and develops our relationship to place. Hopefully as we all continue to travel in our lives, we can visit a place and understand that there is more than meets the eye.
    [post_title] => A Single Story
    [post_excerpt] => 
    [post_status] => publish
    [comment_status] => closed
    [ping_status] => closed
    [post_password] => 
    [post_name] => a-single-story
    [to_ping] => 
    [pinged] => 
    [post_modified] => 2016-01-22 09:44:33
    [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-22 16:44:33
    [post_content_filtered] => 
    [post_parent] => 0
    [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=117001
    [menu_order] => 0
    [post_type] => post
    [post_mime_type] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [filter] => raw
    [categories] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 25
                    [name] => Andes & Amazon
                    [slug] => andesandamazon-spring-2015
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 25
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 237
                    [count] => 142
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 6.1
                    [cat_ID] => 25
                    [category_count] => 142
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Andes & Amazon
                    [category_nicename] => andesandamazon-spring-2015
                    [category_parent] => 237
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2015/andesandamazon-spring-2015/
                )

            [1] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 57
                    [name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [slug] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 57
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 488
                    [count] => 38
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 34.1
                    [cat_ID] => 57
                    [category_count] => 38
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [category_nicename] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [category_parent] => 488
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/program-components/focus-of-inquiry/
                )

            [2] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 45
                    [name] => Rugged Travel
                    [slug] => rugged-travel
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 45
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 488
                    [count] => 66
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 34.1
                    [cat_ID] => 45
                    [category_count] => 66
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Rugged Travel
                    [category_nicename] => rugged-travel
                    [category_parent] => 488
                )

        )

    [category_links] => Andes & Amazon, Focus of Inquiry  ... 
)

Andes & Amazon, Focus of Inquiry, Rugged Travel

View post

A Single Story

Laura Burke,Andes & Amazon, Focus of Inquiry, Rugged Travel

Description

Being here in Tiquipaya settling back into our homestay routines, it feels as if we never left. We have returned with photos, copious amounts of bug bites and closer bonds, but was it real? Did our three week excursion from the Andes to the Amazon actually happen? We started our journey in the snowy mountains […]

Posted On

04/1/15

Author

Laura Burke

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 116930
    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2015-03-31 12:52:56
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-03-31 18:52:56
    [post_content] => Clearing off the cock-roaches from the western toilet--a fancy American toilet compared to the squatty potties of India--each morning doesn't seem all that luxurious does it? Well, it is. I am in India living with a Brahman family. Privileged decendents of priests they have the ability to sit upon a porcelain throne, resting their ankles as they dangle to the floor unlike the thigh-stretching squat position. Banaras, being one of the more conservative Hindu cities, has its clout with caste discrimination; originally, Brahman families are placed at the top of the spiritual food chain-serving as community priests. This world will always be in poverty, and in wealth. Whether it is a toilet, access to safe food, or even shelter, too many from the west see these things as a given life accommodation. Caste and class continue to be big issues that can be found all over India. Dalit discrimination, outlawed after the Indian constitution in 1950, which banned untouchability, can be compared to the United States civil rights movement. Much like discrimination ended in the United States, racism still exists in many communities. Religion in India has a tendency to outweigh government decisions, it has said to be the only true social system the people will accept. This leaves some people of the lower castes to be swept under the Persian rug.

A modern example of discrimination was recently explained to me by a mentor: Back and forth like a rubbish-filled beach ball, each time spewing more garbage out of the torn plastic and into the garden, Manish threatened- "One more time, and we'll throw it in the front gate!". This tiny caste war took place in 2011 at the Father Francis Sewa Sangam Society (SSS) community garden. Their enemies were their upper caste neighbors who wanted the land for themselves. This war was an act on caste discrimination. The SSS garden is primarily for the use of the Dalit community (the oppressed people; named by Mahatma Gandhi to replace the term untouchable). Their neighbors had not wanted to share their land with those they saw as below their status, dropping a metaphorical bomb that claimed the SSS community as garbage.

They did it; on Manish's command, the garden manager and human resources personnel, he and Father Francis stormed their neighbors gate with the trash bag bomb, and never had any trouble with them again.

In the beginning, the Dalit community was forced out of their religion by their work. Cows in Hindu culture are sacred and known to a Hindu as their second mother. Imagine the horror of going to work, and being forced to chop up your mother for a nice pair of shoes--they had to skin deceased cows for leather export by demand of their wealthier, higher caste landlords. For this reason, their caste was known for committing murderous activities and smelling like the stench of dead animals. The higher castes did not see the job as a fact of life, but claimed Dalits had these jobs for their past lives were lived out in a not so karmicly honorable way. The word Brahman stands for "twice born", being seen that they once served well in life and now deserve the higher religious status.

In modern day India, the four main castes do still exist, but are not seen as prominently as they once were. Dalit people are now, in most circumstances, able to communicate with who ever they please and not be discriminated against. There are still lower caste, and lower paying jobs that some Dalit people will stay with today such as rickshaw wallas and the laundry men. Some rickshaw drivers can be seen at night sleeping in their vehicle in case more business arises, or they simply cannot afford housing. Other people have changed societies old ways by attending university; it is now very common to see doctors and medical students who come from a Dalit background. Thanks to many programs, like the Sewa Sangam Society, governmental aid, and other public schools who teach newer specialty skills such as English and computer skills, it is much easier to lessen the educational and professional divide there once was.

Many people from the younger generation are hoping to change societies structure by abolishing caste; my instructor, who visits India so often she could be considered a local, once told me that her friends will go out and only tell people their first name, thus not revealing their caste with the last name they were given-this is what progress looks like, a small gesture of change.
    [post_title] => Dhire-dhire; slowly slowly, things can change. A yak on caste!
    [post_excerpt] => 
    [post_status] => publish
    [comment_status] => closed
    [ping_status] => closed
    [post_password] => 
    [post_name] => dhire-dhire-slowly-slowly-things-can-change-a-yak-on-caste
    [to_ping] => 
    [pinged] => 
    [post_modified] => 2016-01-22 09:49:56
    [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-22 16:49:56
    [post_content_filtered] => 
    [post_parent] => 0
    [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=116930
    [menu_order] => 0
    [post_type] => post
    [post_mime_type] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [filter] => raw
    [categories] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 36
                    [name] => Best Notes From The Field
                    [slug] => best-notes-from-the-field
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 36
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => These pieces of travel writing are reflections by students and instructors traveling all over the world. They exemplify the open-minded spirit of exploration and self-discovery on a Dragons course.
                    [parent] => 0
                    [count] => 503
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 0
                    [cat_ID] => 36
                    [category_count] => 503
                    [category_description] => These pieces of travel writing are reflections by students and instructors traveling all over the world. They exemplify the open-minded spirit of exploration and self-discovery on a Dragons course.
                    [cat_name] => Best Notes From The Field
                    [category_nicename] => best-notes-from-the-field
                    [category_parent] => 0
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/best-notes-from-the-field/
                )

            [1] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 22
                    [name] => Visions of India
                    [slug] => india-spring-2015
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 22
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 237
                    [count] => 103
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 6.1
                    [cat_ID] => 22
                    [category_count] => 103
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Visions of India
                    [category_nicename] => india-spring-2015
                    [category_parent] => 237
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2015/india-spring-2015/
                )

            [2] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 57
                    [name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [slug] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 57
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 488
                    [count] => 38
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 34.1
                    [cat_ID] => 57
                    [category_count] => 38
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [category_nicename] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [category_parent] => 488
                )

            [3] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 47
                    [name] => Survey of Development Issues
                    [slug] => survey-of-development-issues
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 47
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 488
                    [count] => 57
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 34.1
                    [cat_ID] => 47
                    [category_count] => 57
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Survey of Development Issues
                    [category_nicename] => survey-of-development-issues
                    [category_parent] => 488
                )

        )

    [category_links] => Best Notes From The Field, Visions of India  ... 
)
View post

Dhire-dhire; slowly slowly, things can change. A yak on caste!

Stefanie Burchill,Best Notes From The Field, Visions of India, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

Description

Clearing off the cock-roaches from the western toilet–a fancy American toilet compared to the squatty potties of India–each morning doesn’t seem all that luxurious does it? Well, it is. I am in India living with a Brahman family. Privileged decendents of priests they have the ability to sit upon a porcelain throne, resting their ankles […]

Posted On

03/31/15

Author

Stefanie Burchill

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 115908
    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2015-03-07 18:06:04
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-03-08 01:06:04
    [post_content] => During my time so far in Bolivia, I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about the culture.  One of the most influential learning expereinces I have had so far was from our visit to Potosi.  Potosi used to be the richest and largest city in the world due to all of the silver in Cerra Rico.  All of the silver that was mined in Potosi was used to fund the New World Spanish Empire but by the 1800´s most of the silver ran out causing a slow economic decline.  Now the city is so poor that a lot of the children have to work to help support their families.

For a while child labor was illegal in Potosi but regardless, children were still working out of necessity.  Eventually a union of child workers got together to legalize child labor so that they could be treated fairly no matter what their age.  Now, child labor is legal in Potosi and these kids are able to work with proper protection from local child labor organizations.  One of the leaders of this child labor organizations came to speak with us in Potosi.  We were able to ask questions about the kids and understand how their program works. After that we were taken into groups to witness these children at work.

I was put into the shoe shining group.  My friend Adam and I were partnered up together with two kids, one 10 years old and the other 11.  Both of these kids shine shoes three hours a day, three days a week, in the mornings.  Right when we sat down a swarm of Bolivians came to observe what we were doing and most of them were getting a good laugh out of it wondering what two gringos were doing shining shoes.

Now, I´m not going to act like I know what these kids have to do to support their families but I did get a small taste of what their lives can be like.  I didn´t only learn about why these kids had to work but I also got the chance to experience them working, making it one of the most impactful learning experiences I have ever had.
    [post_title] => Learning Experience
    [post_excerpt] => 
    [post_status] => publish
    [comment_status] => closed
    [ping_status] => closed
    [post_password] => 
    [post_name] => learning-experience
    [to_ping] => 
    [pinged] => 
    [post_modified] => 2016-01-26 10:51:30
    [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-26 17:51:30
    [post_content_filtered] => 
    [post_parent] => 0
    [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=115908
    [menu_order] => 0
    [post_type] => post
    [post_mime_type] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [filter] => raw
    [categories] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 25
                    [name] => Andes & Amazon
                    [slug] => andesandamazon-spring-2015
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 25
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 237
                    [count] => 142
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 6.1
                    [cat_ID] => 25
                    [category_count] => 142
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Andes & Amazon
                    [category_nicename] => andesandamazon-spring-2015
                    [category_parent] => 237
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2015/andesandamazon-spring-2015/
                )

            [1] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 57
                    [name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [slug] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 57
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 488
                    [count] => 38
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 34.1
                    [cat_ID] => 57
                    [category_count] => 38
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Focus of Inquiry
                    [category_nicename] => focus-of-inquiry
                    [category_parent] => 488
                    [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/program-components/focus-of-inquiry/
                )

            [2] => WP_Term Object
                (
                    [term_id] => 47
                    [name] => Survey of Development Issues
                    [slug] => survey-of-development-issues
                    [term_group] => 0
                    [term_taxonomy_id] => 47
                    [taxonomy] => category
                    [description] => 
                    [parent] => 488
                    [count] => 57
                    [filter] => raw
                    [term_order] => 34.1
                    [cat_ID] => 47
                    [category_count] => 57
                    [category_description] => 
                    [cat_name] => Survey of Development Issues
                    [category_nicename] => survey-of-development-issues
                    [category_parent] => 488
                )

        )

    [category_links] => Andes & Amazon, Focus of Inquiry  ... 
)

Andes & Amazon, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

View post

Learning Experience

Blaine DuBose,Andes & Amazon, Focus of Inquiry, Survey of Development Issues

Description

During my time so far in Bolivia, I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about the culture.  One of the most influential learning expereinces I have had so far was from our visit to Potosi.  Potosi used to be the richest and largest city in the world due to all of the silver […]

Posted On

03/7/15

Author

Blaine DuBose

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 111734
    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2014-10-27 15:55:35
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-10-27 21:55:35
    [post_content] => 
"Now, scholars can be very useful and necessary in their own dull and unamusing way. They provide a lot of information. It's just that there is Something More, and that Something More is what life is really all about."
- Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

I struggle with this quote. During my last four years at a New England boarding school, I was fully thrust into the world of academia. I wouldn't be where I am today without that immersion, so Benjamin Hoff's harsh words cut deep. At the same time, however, Hoff's message really resonates with me, for even at my high school graduation, I felt like there was something missing - something I couldn't quite put a finger on. That missing piece is ultimately what led me to Nepal. I've carried it in the back of my mind through the last month and a half, but when we arrived in Balanchaur, the site of our rural village homestay, it all made sense.

Allow me to set the scene. Balanchaur sits stoically atop the hills of the Himalayas, surrounded by rice fields and dense forests. Rising above Balanchaur are the mighty snowcapped "himals" (Nepali word for mountain). Manaslu, a mountain rising to 8163 meters, feels as though it is within an arm's reach. My words really can't do the setting justice and unfortunately I don't have enough service to upload a photo, so just imagine a landscape that would accompany the dictionary definition of picturesque.

The village itself is home to about 400 people, all of the Gurung ethnic group. Their ancestors came from the higher forests and settled in these open fields an estimated 300 years ago. Since then primary and secondary schools have been built and a limited supply of electricity has reached the village, but the Gurung people still carry on lives as subsistence farmers.

Our daily schedule in Balanchaur is simple, and that has made has our stay here so meaningful. Aside from an afternoon lesson with our instructors, we spend our time with our host families, immersing ourselves in their culture. From helping my aama around the house to learning new dance moves from my sisters at nightly village-wide parties, I've gotten an authentic taste of village life.

My most notable experience in Balanchaur, however, has been sitting in on a shamanistic house cleansing. After a series of bad omens, the village chief worried there was an evil spirit at work in his home and called a local shaman for assistance. To conduct a house cleansing, a shaman enters a trance that allows him or her to travel freely through the three spirit realms and locate the source of negative energy. It may sound like a joke on paper, but witnessing the shamanistic ritual firsthand has proved to me that it is quite the opposite. As I sat there in that room, surrounded by hopeful villagers and a shaman shaking into a trance, I felt an energy that could not be replicated by books, or any other medium for that matter. In that moment, I understand what Benjamin Hoff meant by Something More, for it was right before my eyes.

You could study Shamanism in an academic setting, as many do, and be able to pick apart each ritual object and its significance, but that information alone won't get to the root of the topic; it won't lend a complete understanding. The essence of Shamanism only becomes clear when you sit inches from the shaman as he or she moves into the trance, and you engage all the senses to experience that shift in energy. That physical moment transcends academia.

After giving that house cleansing more thought, I have come to realize that it is merely the tip of the iceberg, for I could define so many of my experiences in Nepal as Something More. For example, approaching Buddhism from a scholarly perspective pales in comparison to our experience at Kopan Monastery, where we felt the power of prayer as hundreds of monks chanted mantras in the gompa for an early morning puja. Additionally, no matter how much I were to study the caste system, when my host grandparents in Patan considered me of a lower caste and therefore refused to eat meals with me, the emotions I felt could not have been replicated in a classroom. It is experiences like these that I yearned for when I came to Nepal, and I have been lucky enough to find them.

I took a gap year because I am on a quest for Something More. Even so, scholarship has been a vital component of my path and will continue to be, so I do not mean to belittle its importance. I would just like to recognize that high scholarship ought not to be an end goal, for there is an essence that it cannot capture. I have found that essence in the streets of Kathmandu, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, and the Himalayan countryside. After spending the majority of my life thus far in a classroom, I can see that our journey through Nepal, in the words of Benjamin Hoff, is what life is really all about.
[post_title] => Something More [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => something [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-08 16:17:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-08 23:17:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=111734 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 36 [name] => Best Notes From The Field [slug] => best-notes-from-the-field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 36 [taxonomy] => category [description] => These pieces of travel writing are reflections by students and instructors traveling all over the world. They exemplify the open-minded spirit of exploration and self-discovery on a Dragons course. [parent] => 0 [count] => 503 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 0 [cat_ID] => 36 [category_count] => 503 [category_description] => These pieces of travel writing are reflections by students and instructors traveling all over the world. They exemplify the open-minded spirit of exploration and self-discovery on a Dragons course. [cat_name] => Best Notes From The Field [category_nicename] => best-notes-from-the-field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/best-notes-from-the-field/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 124 [name] => Himalaya B [slug] => himalaya-b [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 124 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 239 [count] => 99 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7.1 [cat_ID] => 124 [category_count] => 99 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalaya B [category_nicename] => himalaya-b [category_parent] => 239 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2014/himalaya-b/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 57 [name] => Focus of Inquiry [slug] => focus-of-inquiry [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 57 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 38 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 57 [category_count] => 38 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Focus of Inquiry [category_nicename] => focus-of-inquiry [category_parent] => 488 ) ) [category_links] => Best Notes From The Field, Himalaya B ... )

Best Notes From The Field, Himalaya B, Focus of Inquiry

View post

Something More

Scott Diekema,Best Notes From The Field, Himalaya B, Focus of Inquiry

Description

“Now, scholars can be very useful and necessary in their own dull and unamusing way. They provide a lot of information. It’s just that there is Something More, and that Something More is what life is really all about.” – Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh I struggle with this quote. During my last four […]

Posted On

10/27/14

Author

Scott Diekema

1 2 3 4