Photo of the Week
Service Learning
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    [post_content] => Hola!

On our second day in Cotzal, we learned the true meaning of the saying “many hands make light work.” The group of Dragons helped the women’s weaving co-op mix and pour concrete for the floor of part of their community center. We started the job by hauling sand from a deposit in a nearby field to lay down before the concrete. The ladies worked twice as fast as most of us, carrying giant buckets on their heads. When the sand was done, we took a little break to eat a snack of crispy tortilla chips with fresh guacamole. With new energy, we began mixing different materials to create the actual concrete. We then made a line and passed the buckets of concrete up to the roof where one man dumped and spread it evenly. The buckets were very heavy, and we all ended up covered in concrete. After finishing two rooms, we were all in need of a lunch break. For lunch we had boshbol and tamales that we helped to prepare. The food tasted amazing after all the heavy lifting. Once we had finished eating we quickly completed the floor for the last room and hallway. Passing full buckets up and empty buckets down, we got into a nice rhythm. We even started singing, trying to think of songs that we all knew. Looking at our finished product, we all felt a sense of accomplishment. We ended the day of work much dirtier and happier than we had been in the morning.

Hasta luego!

Sylvie

 
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Concrete Crew

Sylvie Weiman,SUMMER: Guatemala - Group A, Service Learning

Description

Hola! On our second day in Cotzal, we learned the true meaning of the saying “many hands make light work.” The group of Dragons helped the women’s weaving co-op mix and pour concrete for the floor of part of their community center. We started the job by hauling sand from a deposit in a nearby […]

Posted On

07/19/17

Author

Sylvie Weiman

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-05 07:49:21
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Service is complicated. Whether you call it community service, service learning, or learning service, helping people outside of your own community—at least if done effectively—is never as straightforward as leaving home and building something. In order to truly and meaningfully help a community, one must ask a litany of questions, many of which will be unanswerable, and in the end it may still be difficult to quantify the effects, both positive and negative, of a “project.”

In our Altiplano service project we learned firsthand about this complicated dynamic while building an adobe greenhouse. Upon our arrival we were greeted enthusiastically by a large group of community members and then with a performance by local students and profuse thanks by community leaders. Shortly after, however, it became clear that perhaps our donation of funds was the most deserving recipient of praise, as our competency in adobe building—while not unhelpful—wasn’t exemplary. We proved ourselves to be average mud-mixers, average wheelbarrow-pushers, average brick stackers. Though our presence was useful, it wasn’t essential in terms of construction, but at the end of the project we were treated as if it was. For the inauguration of the greenhouse we were all given diplomas and had confetti sprinkled on our heads as if we had just dramatically transformed the community. In our later discussions with Doña María, however, she expressed frustration that the community didn’t maintain its already existing greenhouses, and said that she planned to return to the community unannounced to ensure that they’ve planted in their new greenhouse and are fully taking advantage of it. But if outsiders like María have to push the community to use what we built for them, did we really build the right thing? Doesn’t that demonstrate that they don’t truly value the greenhouse as much as the diplomas and confetti suggest? After the completion of the project many of us were left with critical questions like these, but our subsequent conversations with community members highlighted the important—maybe priceless—but less tangible impacts that our presence had apart from a physical greenhouse. Gabriel, a teacher who grew up in the community, described how our willingness as foreigners to get our hands (and most other parts of our bodies) dirty working and dancing in the mud could have a powerful influence on the mindsets of the town’s youth. Many youth in the community see dirty manual labor like this as a job for the uneducated and darker-skinned; youth in school are reluctant to work with the mud. But according to Gabriel, our eagerness to work in this manner made people look upon this type of work in a more positive light. Additionally, he claimed that having foreigners visit their village made them feel more like they are “on the map,” like the outside cares about them and recognizes their existence; it “raised up their honor.”

In the end, maybe it was just the self-congratulatory way we were treated, the way we were treated like magnanimous heroes, that bothered us. We did help create something useful to a community, and we did forge cross-cultural connections that could positively impact people in the future—but those people are just as likely to be us as they are the community members. These connections were beneficial to both parties, and we felt like we got as much if not more out of the service project as we received. As Eduardo Galeano said, “I don’t believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it’s humiliating. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people.” Maybe it was that Altiplano community that deserved those diplomas, not us.

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FALL: Andes & Amazon A, Service Learning

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On Service

Benjamin Swift,FALL: Andes & Amazon A, Service Learning

Description

Service is complicated. Whether you call it community service, service learning, or learning service, helping people outside of your own community—at least if done effectively—is never as straightforward as leaving home and building something. In order to truly and meaningfully help a community, one must ask a litany of questions, many of which will be […]

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Benjamin Swift

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    [post_content] => Before taking off for the trip, I was tenuous and rarely told people about the service component of it, knowing they justly would make a few reasonable assumptions: that I was going in order to have a better college resume, that I would be building a school that would then be rebuilt a month later by more white kids, and that I would return claiming I'd discovered how to "change the world." For years, white consciousness has tainted services' potential and the last thing I wanted was to contribute to this.

So, when we arrived on course, I approached it with a single goal: providing to a community in a need in a way that will make a tangible difference.

After four days in the monastery, this simplistic form of tangibility was accomplished. We spent three hours a day making nearly 300 bricks that will be used to build a new classroom. We saved a community of monks and nuns hours that could instead be used for other means of productivity.

Yet, in reflecting our service, these things all seem like the audience of a theatrical performance- not insignificant, but far from the focus. In fact, my pure expectation seems meager. Through service, we were not providing to a  community, we were joining one. While the students in the monastery may only clutch the 50 kyats needed to pay for the lollipop from the stand across the street, what they lacked in monetary value they double in other riches. Rich in curiosity. Rich in compassion. Rich in devotion. The real tangibility accomplished cannot just be measured in bricks or hours but in attitude. In the boundless smiles we saw on our way out of the school for the last time and throughout. In the care they took to ensure we didn't worsen our blisters. In the energy to which they would bound out of the kitchen to lay out our clean dishes, even though they saw from early on we could do it on our own. In the relationships we built over a language and sometimes age barrier. All of this epitomizes our service project, but captures not just giving, but receiving. And this receiving feeds a different kind of empowerment.

When I return home and am asked about my service, I won't claim that I learned I can change the world. I didn't. Service isn't about changing the world, it's learning how to integrate yourself in it- how to discover your role in this global community.
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Myanmar 4-week, Service Learning

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A Role in the Global Community

Maia Brockbank,Myanmar 4-week, Service Learning

Description

Before taking off for the trip, I was tenuous and rarely told people about the service component of it, knowing they justly would make a few reasonable assumptions: that I was going in order to have a better college resume, that I would be building a school that would then be rebuilt a month later […]

Posted On

07/13/15

Author

Maia Brockbank

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    [post_content] => July 11, 2015 (Retroactive to July 10, 2015)

 

I got a personal tour of Mandalay from a monk. What did you do today?

No, that header isn't an exaggerated instance of rhetoric. I'll tell you all the story, but let me start from the top:

After one night in a Mandalay guesthouse, we boarded a pickup truck to the suburbs of the imposingly sprawling main city. Urban landscape- traffic lights, hotels, restaurants, and billboards- disappeared very quickly once our tiny truck made it over the Ayeyarwady river, the type of long, meandering, mile-wide river you hear about in myths. Before long, the road's pavement became worn and the monastery at which we would spend three blissful nights was fast approaching.

The monastery itself is located an hour- maybe two, depending on the mood of mother nature- from urban Mandalay. Like most American metropolises, many people who live there have some connection to the main city, but you wouldn't know it by walking through the dirt roads of the town. Close enough to the banks of the Ayeyarwady for a short swim, our home for the next few days surpassed most expectations. Unlike the stereotypical scene of silent, almost solemn monks sitting in a state of suspended reality for hours on end, the complex was lively and bright. It's made up of a few small buildings- each with the square footage of a New York penthouse or a Midwestern barn. The day right after our arrival was marked by our first attempt at making bricks by hand. We were laughingstocks at first, but through practice, we became productive members of the team. Our bricks, of which we made about 300 (90% were said to be usable in construction) will be used to add on to the monastery, probably as a dormitory for the ever-growing student population. For three days we made bricks, mixing concrete, pouring molds, and hammering their tops so they'd be smooth and compact. It was laborious work that littered our hands with blisters and our shirt collars with sweat, but we were all happy to do it.

All in all, the experience truly changed my views on service. I took a course in African Studies that spanned the last two semesters of school, and my teacher was adept at describing the many pitfalls of development aid that plagued his continent of interest. I haven't been able to see charity work, service work, or anything of the sort in the angelic light it seems to crave since then, but I firmly believe that we did good work. We did not take money from the hands of professional builders from the area, we made it so the students did not have to miss school to make the cinder bricks, and, most importantly, we put the project 270 (90% of 300) bricks ahead of schedule. That means that the monastery is 270 bricks fewer away from being better able to better house and teach its students, and for that, I have a humble sense of satisfaction.

The monk I talked about in the first sentence of this yak did not study at that monastery. Though the monks I met there would have been more than happy to walk me around town- they were all very nice, friendly, and ready to arm-wrestle with us, the monk I befriended who showed me his city lives in the monastic school that we are staying at now, in the center of Mandalay. Called Phaung Daw Oo, his school is the largest of its type in the country, and also one of the best. As of the latest count, there are about 8,000 students who study there, and Leo, my monk friend, is one of them. We met as a part of a program he participates in, which collaborated with ours. Our group of eleven foreigners and their group of eleven students were matched up and then divided into two-person partnerships, each with one of us and one of them. They got to practice their English and we got to hear their commentary on the city of Mandalay as we completed scavenger hunt-esque activities which lead us to the top of the scenic Mandalay Hill, a string of pagodas that ascent Mandalay's only major topographic point of interest. At that point, we met back up with our instructors and watched the sun set over the distant Ayeyarwady river.

Not a bad week at all.

 

With love to Mom, Dad, and Dylan (Mom, keep your cellphone with you ALL THE TIME, because I'll try to call you, but it might be at a weird time, such as 2:30AM.)

 

-Jonathan
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Myanmar 4-week, Service Learning

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Myanmar’s Suburbia

Jonathan Taylor,Myanmar 4-week, Service Learning

Description

July 11, 2015 (Retroactive to July 10, 2015)   I got a personal tour of Mandalay from a monk. What did you do today? No, that header isn’t an exaggerated instance of rhetoric. I’ll tell you all the story, but let me start from the top: After one night in a Mandalay guesthouse, we boarded […]

Posted On

07/13/15

Author

Jonathan Taylor

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    [post_content] => My views on service have been challenged a lot this summer. At times, I feel like the world's problems are so large and messy and my understanding is so small that my actions will never really make any meaningful change. In all honestly, upon pounding our last bricks together at the service sight, I couldn't confidently assert that we had made real "change" that gave our service value, and I'm okay with that.
Service is not about us, its not about what we do, its about community. Service is about going in to a community and forming relationships. Through open minded listening and learning you can asses what a community needs and how you can provide those necessities. We have to accept that sometimes our talents and ideas don't match the needs of a community and that's okay because we've created an environment and relationship or learning, sharing, and empowerment. Our service may not change the world, but these relationships will.
After working with the novice monks and talking with our amazing mentors, I've developed a more literal definition of the word service. In my personal experience, I don't usually walk out of a fancy new york restaurant saying "wow, they had great service at that place." You might get a world-famous seared tuna after spending 2 hours and half your week's salary waiting, but what if truffle oil makes your throat itchy? What if the loud jazz and lack of proper lighting gives you a headache? No one can promise that you're needs will come before those of the celebrities rubbing elbows in the restaurant's VIP section. Usually, the places I experience the best service are local restaurants run with love and packed with regulars. A place with great service will cook you chicken using canola oil because your son insists anything to do with olives makes him barf; they will ask what you're in the mood for and listen to your wishes; they'll share their banana creme pie recipe with you when they overhear that dad's birthday celebration is coming up soon. They don't claim to be the most famous or posh restaurant, but they run off of love for their costumers and their job. We served the monastery and were served in return with love and lessons and lots of rice. The service was great, I'd go back any time.
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Myanmar 4-week, Service Learning

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Service

Helena Thomas,Myanmar 4-week, Service Learning

Description

My views on service have been challenged a lot this summer. At times, I feel like the world’s problems are so large and messy and my understanding is so small that my actions will never really make any meaningful change. In all honestly, upon pounding our last bricks together at the service sight, I couldn’t […]

Posted On

07/13/15

Author

Helena Thomas

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    [post_date] => 2015-05-05 08:54:34
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    [post_content] => I don`t smoke, but I guess I also don`t avidly chew coca leaves.

I had spent the day contributing my part to the deforestation of the Amazon, and was now taking a break with the men of Asunción. We were expanding the soccer field, or cancha, of the community through machetes but the Amazonian sun sent us seeking shade to chew coca, smoke cigarettes, and share stories. I was sweaty, blistered, and tired from a good days work, but the rest of the men were chipper as ever. They were just avoiding the sun for a minute or two and I was incredibly impressed with their resilience. There was a large wheel barrow full of coca leaves, a strange bark that they used as catalyst in the village, and also some sugary powder to take the edge off the bitter taste.  Everyone would take a strip of the bark, rip it up, moisten it with their mouth, put it into a hand full of leaves, pour some powder on the mixutre, and put it all in their mouthes. The packs of cigarettes were also being passed around and everyone partook. I felt very much part of their small community that whole day. I bent my back and sweated with the best of them and felt like I really made a personal connection in a man who was about my age named Símon. We didn`t talk much, but he helped me dig out and chop through a buried tree stump. We were helping build a drying station for the community's cacao chocolate operation, and exchanged a few words about our lives and families. Mostly our conversation revolved around the soccer game we still were going to play at 5 and the two liters of soda we had bet on the game. There were two worlds between us, but in those hours of manual toil, we were from the same place. We talked like friends, and it seemed like I was no longer a tourist coming in to briefly glimpse this new and different culture. We were simply two men working together for the betterment of their community. It was absolutely incredible. I talked to Símon more over the next two days where he helped teach us to shoot the locally made bow and arrow, and shook his hand when we left for Rurrenabaque.

It was strange because we spoke very little. I guess it was just that shared experience that brought us together, and left me with the feeling of making another friend in the this strange place we call the world. I don`t know for sure, but I`d like to say that Símon feels the same way, like he met another human with same passions, dreams, fears, and hopes. Not some other transient tourist.
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I Want to Live in Asunción.

Sam Rogers,Andes & Amazon, Rugged Travel, Service Learning

Description

I don`t smoke, but I guess I also don`t avidly chew coca leaves. I had spent the day contributing my part to the deforestation of the Amazon, and was now taking a break with the men of Asunción. We were expanding the soccer field, or cancha, of the community through machetes but the Amazonian sun sent […]

Posted On

05/5/15

Author

Sam Rogers

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" I must work with children, they are the future of humanity"

  Throughout our stay in Nepal thus far we have had the privilege to meet many incredible individuals. Rom Tundra "Swami G" is definitely one of those Individuals.  Swami G has made a pretty large impact on not only our group but also on every person he has helped in his life.  He is an incredible person. Not only is his personality so pleasant, caring and wonderful but also, the things he has accomplished in his life makes him an inspiration and puts him above and beyond the rest. When he was a child around age 12, he ran away from home and went to India.His life then unfolded in a very different way than it would've if he had stayed in his village in Nepal for his whole life. One experience led to the next and at a young age he became a soldier in the Indian army.  Later he found himself at an Ashram.  In his words, the ashram "cleaned him" and helped him see "straight".  He began learning and studying all sorts of new things. When he first realized he was going to build an Ashram in Kathmandu, his original plan was to build 75 Ashrams in 5 years. He may not have necessarily accomplished that goal specifically, but he did manage to build 3 absolutely incredible Ashrams from basically nothing.  The Ashram we had the privilege of staying at, the Shri Aurobindo Ashram, was the first Ashram created by Swami G.  He was faced by many challenges in his life and also throughout the process of building the Ashram.  But, he told us "Don't bow down to the challenge, find another solution", and that is exactly what he did every time.  He has created a very safe, prosperous environment and community for so many fortunate children and young adults. When we arrived we immediately felt included to this wonderful community.  I will never forget my experience there or the people I was lucky enough to meet. Even though Swami G wasn't able to build 75 Ashrams in 5 years, even just one Ashram alone is helping so many children in so many ways. I am sure that one day he will reach his goal, one Ashram at a time. [post_title] => For the Future of Humanity [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => for-the-future-of-humanity [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-01-22 09:31:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-22 16:31:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=117416 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 30 [name] => Picture of the Week [slug] => picture-of-the-week [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 30 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 483 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 1 [cat_ID] => 30 [category_count] => 483 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Picture of the Week [category_nicename] => picture-of-the-week [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/picture-of-the-week/ ) [1] => 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/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 67 [name] => Service Learning [slug] => service-learning [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 67 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 15 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 67 [category_count] => 15 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Service Learning [category_nicename] => service-learning [category_parent] => 488 ) [3] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 48 [name] => Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion [slug] => introduction-to-philosophycomparative-religion [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 48 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 488 [count] => 64 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 34.1 [cat_ID] => 48 [category_count] => 64 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion [category_nicename] => introduction-to-philosophycomparative-religion [category_parent] => 488 ) ) [category_links] => Picture of the Week, Himalaya A ... )
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For the Future of Humanity

Kira Martin,Picture of the Week, Himalaya A, Service Learning, Introduction to Philosophy/Comparative Religion

Description

” I must work with children, they are the future of humanity”   Throughout our stay in Nepal thus far we have had the privilege to meet many incredible individuals. Rom Tundra “Swami G” is definitely one of those Individuals.  Swami G has made a pretty large impact on not only our group but also on […]

Posted On

04/13/15

Author

Kira Martin

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    [post_content] => We have just returned from the ashram and a week's worth of service on the Western edge of the Kathmandu valley. During our time there, we harvested barley, filled sacks with manure for sale, cleaned a wood shed, fertilized a field with liquid manure and more. This experience has helped me to understand that service is not always A leads to B where one action leads to one concrete realized result. These steps of service may just be steps along the way: to maintain the activities of a place and to keep it running, breathing. Each of the activities we participated in, however, supported the larger picture of this ashram. By fertilizing a field of corn we  contributed to the growth of vegetables that can feed the ashram community. The produce harvested from this field will also be sold at the local farmer's market to generate income to support the education of the ashram children. In some ways, the ecological and income generating model of the ashram is a positive example of development where the work that occurs there benefits both people and place (chemical pesticides are avoided in the growing process and the children receive a free education in a supportive community environment). Why then is a system like this more the exception than the rule?

One answer is that sustainable agriculture is hard work. Taking care of 50+ cows like the Sri Aurobindo ashram does is a messy business. The spatial diversity of crops and the landscape itself make it difficult to incorporate machinery. Even more, maintaining an organic farm is labor intensive. Many farms can't afford to adopt these practices and stay competitive in their respective market sector. And many farms run more like businesses as opposed to educational/spiritual centers where service lies at the heart of all activity.

On one of the last days at the ashram, Rishi, our coordinator, took us on a hike to a nearby temple. He has lived at the ashram for 17 years and first came here as a little boy. The temple he took us to was small, rising out of the face of a cliff. We stood there looking out at the place where valley floor meets valley wall. With a sigh he commented on the buildings that have hurriedly sprung up across the valley floor. I could feel his dread over the slow but steady encroachment of the city up toward the green hills that still lie behind the ashram. We were standing on the edge of development in both space and time: between the forested hills and the construction of new buildings, between past and uncertain future (he told me that there were plans for a new resort to be built upon the valley wall).

It seems then that the ashram has found a way to live from the earth and straddle that line between a quickly shifting world and the need to preserve its resources. The way it achieves this has to do with the vision of Ram Chandra (Swami Ji) and a community that enacts service as a way of life. At the ashram, use of natural resources and the sale of goods is all done with the mission of the ashram in mind: to serve the kids and make sure they receive a good education.

In considering the relationship between development, service and sustainable agriculture, I am reminded of the quote I read the first day I came into the ashram dining space: "Eat for living; do not live for eating" - the Mother. Initially when I saw this quote, I knew the ashram would be a perfect place of learning for me: to reflect on what it means to take only as much as I need and not more. But looking back, I see that these words do not just apply to my habit of going for seconds and thirds of the tastiest treats at the dinner table. I am still very uncertain of how countries like Nepal will continue to approach the challenge of development in the next few decades. However, if more families, farms, communities and cities were to adopt the philosophy embodied in this quote (although how on a larger scale I'm still unsure), I wonder what they would look like and I wonder if more needs (of both planet and people) would slowly be met.
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Himalaya A, Service Learning

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Service and Development

Nicole Wong,Himalaya A, Service Learning

Description

We have just returned from the ashram and a week’s worth of service on the Western edge of the Kathmandu valley. During our time there, we harvested barley, filled sacks with manure for sale, cleaned a wood shed, fertilized a field with liquid manure and more. This experience has helped me to understand that service […]

Posted On

04/9/15

Author

Nicole Wong

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    [post_content] => So I just saw an astrologist whose family worked for the Nepali royal family for generations. I was a little skeptic but now I am sure its all science/math. He told me some really interesting and weirdly specific/accurate things...it was awesome. The astrologist, Dependra, was one of the many speakers that came to share their knowledge with our group. We are so lucky to have heard from such a wide variety of intelligent, passionate people.
I figure I will share a couple of our teachers knowledge on the Yak board. We had one man come in from Next Generation Nepal. His organization tried to prevent child trafficking and rescues, rehabilitates, and reconnects kids from orphanages with their family. He gave us a lot of interesting statistics. There are over 15,000 kids living in an orphanage in Nepal. An orphanage is a place where kids with no parents or any other family to take care of them go. This isn't exactly the case here, at about 2 out of 3 children living in orphanages have at least 1 living parent, and don't need to be there. The business of orphanages is extremely lucrative due to kind, innocent volunteers willing to pay a couple hundred US dollars a week to work there. Approximately 90% of the orphanages are in the top 5 tourist districts and that is not a coincidence.
The kids are being intentionally displaced from their families, so a trafficker can profit. What often happens is a trafficker goes into some of the very poor villages in Nepal and says there is a great boarding school over in Kathmandu.  They say that if they are paid 20,000-30,00 Rupees (200-300 US bucks) they will take the child to that school and give them a good education. The parents want the best for their child and so they borrow money to pay and off he kids go. The trafficker is able to make money off both the parents and the volunteers. Once the kids are at the orphanage they are threatened to tell everyone that they are an orphan, and if not they will be beaten among other things. The volunteers come really wanting to help these kids and believe the stories the children are forced to tell. Money is being made from both good intentions and naivety from the parents and the volunteers. We need to stop volunteering and paying large sums of money to orphanages because it is fueling this business. If there was no money in the business traffickers would eventually stop taking kids from their families. The most important thing we can all do is to spread awareness on the issue.
Another speaker I loved and felt inspired from was Ola who spoke to us about her organization "Her Turn." The organization is based upon the girl effect that is if you help girls stay in school and educate them, they'll marry later, have fewer children and essentially that girls are the silver bullet in international development.
Most girls in Nepal are not recognized as important family members because they will marry and be part of the husbands family. Therefore, their education is not prioritized. In addition, the child marriage rate in Nepal is about 41% which is one of the highest in the world. When the girl gets married she is expected to have children right away.
Another issue is trafficking, about 10,00-12,000 girls are trafficked into India. Rich women from the brothels in India come to some of the poorer villages in Nepal. The parents want their children to be rich and happy like the women coming to them, and let the women take their girls because the parents think it'll be the best life for their child.
One more thing Her Turn focuses on is teaching about menstruation. Menstruation is not widely spoken about or really understood in Nepal. About 30% of girls report to skipping school while they are on their periods because they are afraid of bullying. About 95% of girls report having some sort of restrictions while they are on their period like having to sleep in hallways or not being able to touch dairy products. In the most extreme cases menstruating women have to sleep outside with the animals which makes them very vulnerable to animal bites, sexual assault, and even death.
There is a lack of education on menstruation  hygiene  and other issues and that's where Her Turn steps in. They try to address these issues compassionately and without ethnocentrism. They usually teach and chose local women to lead a 4 week workshop and teach girls health, hygiene  leadership, confidence, and do a community project. These girls bring what they have learned at school home to the family, and the family is able to learn about these issues as well. Her Turn is doing a lot of amazing work.
I wish I had time to talk about every single speaker like Ky who taught us  about disability in Nepal , or the world famous street artists changing the world through art, or our awesome instructors who taught us about history, politics,yoga, Ayurveda, development, learning service and so much more...but I have already written a mini-novel. We have just met and learned from so many people doing incredible things. There is lots to do, but we can make a difference! #powertothepeople #hurrrahhhh
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Himalaya C, Survey of Development Issues, Service Learning

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Lots to Do…

Sage Bennett,Himalaya C, Survey of Development Issues, Service Learning

Description

So I just saw an astrologist whose family worked for the Nepali royal family for generations. I was a little skeptic but now I am sure its all science/math. He told me some really interesting and weirdly specific/accurate things…it was awesome. The astrologist, Dependra, was one of the many speakers that came to share their knowledge with our group. We are so […]

Posted On

11/3/14

Author

Sage Bennett

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    [post_date] => 2014-04-25 15:21:09
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    [post_content] => As a young kid, I loved animals. I wanted to be a vet, I adored my toy stuffed animals, and Steve Irwin was my personal hero. I was also a big book worm, devouring anything with a good adventure storyline. So it doesn't come as any big surprise that one of my favorite book series when I was little combined these two things. The ¨Adventure¨ series by Willard Price was a children's series about two teenaged budding zoologist who travelled the world, collecting rare animal species for their father's research work. There were nasty villains, daring deeds, exotic settings, and, best of all, fascinating wild animals.
Out of the entire series, my favorite book was the first one written, and in my opinion, the most exciting one. Amazon Adventure was first published in 1949. Not exactly the most up to date novel to be reading in the early 2000s. Now, as a slightly older and more informed animal lover, I would probably question some of the treatment of the animals and the whole idea of capturing wildlife for zoos and personal collections. The book is also dated in other ways- some portrayals of local peoples and cultures would be seen as downright racist and deragatory by modern standards. But a young me wasn't exactly preoccupied about whether or not the leopard wanted to be captured or with the 1950's political incorrectness. I was too busy being mesmerized by the world of the Amazon.
Massive anacondas. Blood-sucking bats. Shruken heads. Fierce jaguars. Ravenous piranhas. This was the deep jungle, dark and dangerous. Every inhabitant seemed more ferocious and liable to harm you than their counterparts outside of the Amazon. Just the word ¨Amazon¨conjured up images and ideas of a place so crazy, chaotic and wild that it scared and fascinated me at the same time. The boys in Price's book seemed lucky to have escaped the jungle with their lives. This was the concept of the Amazon that I grew up with.
 Of course, it changed a little with time. I would read articles about the undiscovered tribes of the Amazon, or watch documentary specials on the grave dangers of deforestation and logging. In school we talked about the Amazon as being the ¨lungs¨of the world, since they produce so much oxygen. We also talked about the great potential of undiscovered species. Who knows? The cure for cancer could be hidden inside a yet-to-be found plant in the Amazonian jungle. I even went and visited part of the Amazon in Brazil with my family and got a little more feel for the realities of the Amazonian rainforest. But in my mind, those original depictions from Amazon Adventure still held firm. The Amazon was a massive jungle, one of the last true wilderness, so dense and difficult to survive in that it was almost impenetrable.
All this means that when I signed up for this Dragons course and saw that there was a section in the Amazon, I was a little bit nervous. The Amazon! Eek. Kind of an intimidating place. All the dramatic scenes from Amazon Adventure popped into my mind. I would only have a tent to protect me from all of that?
Safe to say, my experience in the Bolivian Amazon was not at all what I expected. Between our several days spent traveling down the river and camping on sand banks, our 3 nights staying with the rural community of Asuncion, and reading an eye-opening article about the history of the Amazon Basin, many of my preconcieved notions of the Bolivian Amazon were challenged. I had no idea that the Amazon Basin consists not only of the well known Amazon rainforest, but also of grasslands and other, more sub-tropical type forests. The small section of the Bolivian Amazon we travelled through was not the Amazon Adventure thick, steamy, almost-no-sunlight-penetrating-the-canopy rainforest/jungle I had been expecting. Yes, it was still hot and sweaty and itchy, and there is an abundance of flora and fauna and tall trees, but it's not at all the ¨Amazon¨ that is presented to the world.
We also got to read about and see in person how people live and interact with this environment, and how they have been doing so for years. The Amazon is not some untouched, crazy wilderness. People have been making their home in the Amazon Basin for thousands of years, and it's impossible for a people to exist in an environment without impacting it. As much as the Amazon affects the lives of the people who live there, they also shape the Amazon in return. Fruit trees have been cultivated, soil has been enriched, and various ways of living have been tested out in the Amazonian environment by countless generations. There is still a debate about just how widespread and developed indigenous civilizations in the Amazon were pre-Conquest, but many signs seem to suggest that there is a rich and impressive history yet to be understood.
To small Danielle, sitting in an air conditioned house in the United States reading a book about jungles and animals, the Amazon appeared to be a scary, wild place. This is the version of the Amazon that is most often presented to the Western world, in movies and books and even articles. But having visited and experienced a little more of the Amazon in my time here, I've come to realize that it's just one face of the Amazon. Yes, the Amazon is massive and impressive and a challenging environment for outsiders. But it's also extremely diverse and more than just a big, uniform rainforest. And there are people who live here, and who have lived here, and to them it's just their every day life. The Amazon is not just an exotic background to adventure tales- it's a real, complicated place, with a unique history, people and diversity.
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Amazon Adventure

Danielle Strasburger,Andes and Amazon Semester, Spring 2014, Service Learning, Trekking and Wilderness Exploration

Description

As a young kid, I loved animals. I wanted to be a vet, I adored my toy stuffed animals, and Steve Irwin was my personal hero. I was also a big book worm, devouring anything with a good adventure storyline. So it doesn’t come as any big surprise that one of my favorite book series […]

Posted On

04/25/14

Author

Danielle Strasburger

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