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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010


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Independent Study Projects are an opportunity for each student to pursue their individual interests through direct relationships with mentors or local organizations. Students will pursue their ISP's during our 6 week stay in Kathmandu. During our orientation week in Bhaktapur, students will have their first of many meetings with an instructor who will act as an ISP advisor and offer guidance and support for the duration of the project.Instructorswill also be introducing the group to various research methodologies such as participant observation, interviews, surveys, etc. to assist students in their research.When you consider an ISP topic, please consider the method with which you wish to approach the project. Are you a tactile person who wants to get their hands into a project? Are you a social person who wants to integrate into a community and learn the stories of people and get involved? Are you an artistic person who wants to learn a skill and produce a tangible craft? Are you a combination of these things? Please note that the most successful projects are creative in nature; we want you to learn a lot but also have fun and approach your topic in a unique way! This project is YOURS! Possible ISP presentations in the past have included, but are not limited to: performance, producing a craft and explaining the process, teaching a class to the group, presenting a creative story/poem, writing a research paper and presenting it, photo-documentary, demonstrating healing techniques, cooking something and sharing recipes, engaging the group in a debate, and many more! Finally, please note that the below listed ideas are just a start. Please open yourself up to realistic possibilities beyond this list!

Religion/Philosophy:

Common rituals and practices of Hinduism and/or Buddhism

Death and the experience of death in different traditions

Women in Buddhism/Hinduism

Buddhist/Hindu Iconography

Sacred Architecture/Artisans

Monks and Nuns in Tibetan Culture

Newari Buddhism

Mythology/creation myths

Hindu rites of passage

Health:

The philosophy and practice of Yoga

Ayurvedic Medicine

Traditional Tibetan Medicine

H.I.V./AIDS in Nepal

TB or Leprosy in Nepal

Care for the aged and infirmed/Hospice

Environment/Wildlife:

Environmental policies/issues in Nepal

Endangered Species

Environmental education and campaigns

Tourism and the Environment

Stray animals in Kathmandu and their treatment- RABIES SHOTS MANDATORY!

Organic farming/Permaculture

Mountain cleanup

Education:

Education and curriculum

Prison education

Government vs. private education

Student/children games

Teaching English

Monastic education

Further study of Nepali language/script

Family/Social:

Marriage rituals and arranged marriages

Lineage, clanship, ethnicity, heredity, and caste system

Porter culture

Politics:

Nepali migration

Foreign refugees living in Nepal

Maoist reintegration efforts

Royal family

Tibetan communities in exile

The Justice system of Nepal

Arts:

Musical traditions of Nepal

Thangka painting

Carpet weaving

Traditional and/or modern Nepali dance

Jewelry making

Tailoring/textiles

Cooking

Metalsmithing (forging Nepali knives)

Mask carving

Woodworking

Stone carving

Bronze casting

Gender Issues:

A woman’s role in Nepali society

Homosexuality in Nepal/Chakas

Child trafficking and prostitution in Nepal

Women’s education and literacy

Nuns in the monastic system

You will see this list again upon your arrival in Nepal. We just wanted to get you excited and thinking about all the different possibilities. Please be prepared to share some of your thoughts during your phone conversation with one of the instructors in the next couple of weeks. We are looking forward to connecting with each of you.

Be well. . .

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Independent Study Ideas!!!

Instructors,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Independent Study Projects are an opportunity for each student to pursue their individual interests through direct relationships with mentors or local organizations. Students will pursue their ISP’s during our 6 week stay in Kathmandu. During our orientation week in Bhaktapur, students will have their first of many meetings with an instructor who will act as […]

Posted On

01/10/10

Author

Instructors

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Hello Where There Be Dragons participants,

How are you? I am writing from Chetumal, Mexico, where in a few short weeks I will take a long chain of flights to experience a dramatic shift in altitude,and arrive in Katmandu a week early to help Shannon and Sweta prepare for our Himalaya course.

I'm looking forward to sharing this itinerary with you. I have been working in experiential education for five years, most recently returning from a three month trip to Ecuador and Peru with LEAPNow. My lungs are prepared from the trek up to Machu Picchu and they’re ready to go.

Like Shannon, my life took a dramatically different course when I made the decision, and took the leap, to take a semester off from Middlebury College and immerse myself in a different culture. Two years later I was shaped anew when I studied with Antioch’s Buddhist Studies program, living in Asian monasteries, sleeping, eating and meditating with monks. Buddhism has affected my notion of self and my world more than any other subject. As Pico Iyer writes, “All significant travel we do is internal.” Physical travel sets us up for significant inward strides. I am excited to share in your exploration of Buddhism and introduce its ideas to you as we encounter monks and monasteries this semester.

Themost exciting thing about experiential education is that it is effortless. Well, the travel times, and the mystery food,and the bathrooms, and the communication barriers may seem like effort. But the lessons learned, the most visceral and longest lasting,will come naturally.That is to say, it is impossible to travel to this region andremain unchanged.I am honored to be part of your adventure. I will provide support while you are on this journey, from your homestays - you will love them! - to the independent projects. And yes, hiking in the Himalayas is as mystical as it sounds!

Warmly,

Nate

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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A few short weeks to go…

Nathaniel Marcus,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Hello Where There Be Dragons participants, How are you? I am writing from Chetumal, Mexico, where in a few short weeks I will take a long chain of flights to experience a dramatic shift in altitude,and arrive in Katmandu a week early to help Shannon and Sweta prepare for our Himalaya course. I’m looking forward […]

Posted On

01/9/10

Author

Nathaniel Marcus

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Namaste Friends,

Happy New Year! We wanted to give you an idea of the exciting activities we will be engaged in over the 13 weeks of our course. What we have outlined below is the flow that we anticipate, but, of course, all of this is subject to change!

Week 1:

Welcome to NEPAL!!! Your I-Team will meet you at Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu on the evening of February 11th and transfer the group to Bhaktapur (Bhak-ta-pur: Bukh-tuh-poor) for our program orientation. Bhaktapur is a medieval Newari city in Kathmandu Valley where we will encounter the traditional arts and architecture and the unique blend of Buddhist and Hindu iconography and religious beliefs. It is here we begin our first Nepali language lessons and receive tools to settle into a new culture and community with ease and respect.

Weeks 2 through 7:

Following program orientation, we will begin our urban home-stay in Bansbari, Kathmandu. You will come Monday through Friday to our program house for yoga, meditation, language lesson, instructor lessons, guest lectures, development discussions and lunch. Afternoons will be your independent time to pursue ISPs. Families beg for their home-stay son/ daughter to spend weekends with them so that they can indulge in more cultural experiences separate from the group activities. Some weekends we will go for student organized group excursions, visit sacred sites and celebrate local festivities. A short trek of 3 -5 days will be incorporated sometime during our Kathmandu stay to get into the wilderness and recharge. We will wrap-up our urban home-stay experience with a student organized family bhoj (party) where students will share their ISP experiences and thank our Kathmandu community for welcoming us into their lives.

Weeks 8 and 9:

Next we will begin a ten-day meditation retreat and introduction to Tibetan Buddhism at Kopan monastery (www.kopanmonastery.com). We will attend a course where we live and study amongst Tibetan monks in the Gelugpa tradition (the school of the Dalai Lama) in an idyllic hilltop monastery overlooking the Kathmandu valley. Aside from trekking in the Himalayas, this could be one of the most challenging things you have done in your life thus far - sitting with your mind and looking inward. Our assignments and discussions in Kathmandu will give you some foundational knowledge in Buddhism. We, your I-team, your friends will be there to support you and celebrate with you on this incredible journey.

Week 10:

We depart Kathmandu valley for a rural home-stay in the village of Chaukati situated in the Himalayan foothills. We will continue with the development discussions, a village ethnography study with presentation, and language, alongside service work and learning in a relaxed village atmosphere. At this point in the program, we will have become a high-functioning group with good country knowledge, cultural sensitivity and language proficiency. Leadership, teamwork and effective communication as the qualities to add to the list, we will wrap-up our village stay and move into our last phase of the program – trek and transference.

Week 11 through 13:

We will wrap up the program by embarking on a 16-day long and strenuous trek in the Himalayas. We will trek through remote mountain villages, learn new ways of doing things from our trekking staff and bask in the majestic view of the towering peaks. Our days will be simple here. We will wake up early, go to sleep early, walk long hours, gain elevation slowly and enjoy simple meals like we have never before. Our evenings will be filled with stories and group led discussions on development, spirituality, life, etc...

Here we will begin our transference work alongside exploring the high alpine terrain of the Himalayas – home to snow leopards, blue sheep, many species of birds and the elusive yeti! We will reflect back on our 13 weeks in Nepal and start dialogues around going back home to the U.S of A. We will share our fears and expectations around returning to the culture, which before this trip (for some of us) was the only culture we knew so well. Your I-team will give you tools to settle back into the country and culture you are returning to and discuss ways of continuing such support. The group will then travel back to Kathmandu for repacking and to say goodbyes to their families and mentors. Transfer to Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu for flight back home.

We hope this sounds as exciting to you as it does to us! Please keep checking the yak board regularly and introducing your selves. We will be posting a list of ISP topics for you to choose from and also some pre-course assignments.

Can’t wait to see you soon!

Sweta, Nate and Shannon

--

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Tentative Itinerary

Instructors,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Namaste Friends, Happy New Year! We wanted to give you an idea of the exciting activities we will be engaged in over the 13 weeks of our course. What we have outlined below is the flow that we anticipate, but, of course, all of this is subject to change! Week 1: Welcome to NEPAL!!! Your […]

Posted On

01/9/10

Author

Instructors

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Happy 2010 everyone! I’m Hannah Oblock, I am 18 and my home is the beautiful state of Utah. I’m graduating a semester early from high school so I can come be a part of this adventure. Last summer, I took a rock climbing course through NOLS and my favorite instructor said her good friends worked for Dragons and that there wasn’t a better program out there! I’m very excited to have found Dragons and that my hopes of traveling to Nepal are becoming a reality.

Here’s a brief intro to my life and I look forward to learning about everyone else. I live near a town called Richmond, in the very northern part of Utah, just and hour and a half from Salt Lake City. My parents, Bill and Diane, own an amazing artisan bread bakery called Crumb Brothers. We create a tasty assortment of organic French breads and pastries and our bakery is a must see stop if any of you ever end up in Logan. My dad is the head baker and boss, my uncle deals with the business side of the bakery along with my mom. I have one sister, Alyson, who is 15 and a sophomore in high school.

We have a lot of pets! I’m pretty sure when both my sister and I are out of the house my mom will turn our home into an animal sanctuary despite my dad’s opinion on the issue. We have horses, cats, dogs, lots of wild turkeys who come to eat our bird seed, and a bird.

I love to do lots of outdoor sports especially rock climbing and running. It’s hard not to be active where I live because of the numerous places in Utah to go and explore. Lately, there have been a lot of pretty good snow storms, so the skiing is primo!

Right now in my last semester of high school (precisely six more days), I only have a couple classes. My free time is pretty extensive! I spend a good deal of my time volunteering at CAPSA. CAPSA is a local shelter in my town where victims of domestic violence and sexual harassment can receive care. I am an advocate for CAPSA so what I love to help with is the educational aspect of CAPSA. We go to schools around the county and give presentations on sexual harassment, rape, and healthy relationships. I really enjoy what I do and wish it could be a permanent job!

So far I only have one question about gear. I don’t know if the other ladies are having the same problem, but I’m having a hard time finding an ankle length skirt! Is this something I can easily pick up over there? I found one that’s just above the ankles and I was wondering if I just wore pants under it would it be okay?

I’m excited to get our itinerary soon. I think this last month is going to fly by pretty fast. I look forward to meeting everyone in LA.

-Hannah

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Introduction by Hannah

Hannah Oblock,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Happy 2010 everyone! I’m Hannah Oblock, I am 18 and my home is the beautiful state of Utah. I’m graduating a semester early from high school so I can come be a part of this adventure. Last summer, I took a rock climbing course through NOLS and my favorite instructor said her good friends worked […]

Posted On

01/7/10

Author

Hannah Oblock

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Namaste my soon to be fellow travelers!

My name is Sweta and I am very excited to be a part of this Himalayan Semester this Spring! 



I am Nepali and call Kathmandu Valley my hometown. Born and raised in the Valley, I worked for one of the oldest adventure sports company in the country as an International Trip Coordinator after college. The work involved extensive traveling within the country, which cultivated a strong desire to continue exploring the rural areas and learn more about my own people and their lifestyle. 



Traveling puts us in many circumstances and situations when we cannot have answers to our questions instantly. It is a great test of letting go and embracing what is in front of you for what it really is, and let the answer to our curiosities manifest in the future. It is a physical journey taken to come closer to our spiritual-self and allow it to empower us. But the tricky part for people from this part of the world is maintaining that fine balance of independent traveling of self-discovery and keeping the family and community values intact. It is this complexity of one’s role that many women and men in this part of the world either gracefully straddle (or aspire to) that you, my courageous fellow travelers, will get to experience in the days to come. I feel honored to be a translator of this beautiful complexity for you. 



I will be looking forward to seeing you all in Nepal in February and beginning our journey together. In the meantime, please do take advantage of this Yak board to post your questions, concerns, interest etc., which will hugely benefit our Himalayan Semester Spring ’10 community. And before I sign off for now, I would like to welcome everyone aboard on the Dragon’s adventure boat and congratulate each one of you for choosing to come and travel with us. You are one of the very few lucky ones to have such special opportunity to explore Nepal the way we are going to. So, get excited!!! 

Thank your friends and family for making this happen, and also thank them for encouraging and supporting you in this brave endeavor. I send you all my love and wish you all a safe journey over to Nepal.



Hugs,


Sweta Gurung

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Namaste!

Sweta Gurung,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Namaste my soon to be fellow travelers!

My name is Sweta and I am very excited to be a part of this Himalayan Semester this Spring! 

 I am Nepali and call Kathmandu Valley my hometown. Born and raised in the Valley, I worked for one of the oldest adventure sports company in the country as […]

Posted On

01/4/10

Author

Sweta Gurung

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Namaste Friends,



I hope you have all been enjoying the holiday season. It is hard to believe that the time is quickly approaching when we will meet in the Kathmandu airport and begin a sojourn that will change all of our lives. This journey will present challenges and rewards far beyond your imagination. It is an exciting prospect and one that I’m sure you are all a bit nervous about. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to leave behind what is familiar and to venture out into the unknown. For that, you already have the respect of the instructors and the communities we will be living amongst and working with.





I wanted to take some time to share a bit about this course and about myself. I would also like to invite you all to begin introducing yourself on the yak board and posting any questions you may have. You will soon discover that the yak board is a great way to share, connect and build enthusiasm for the adventure that lies ahead. 



My personal sojourn in Asia began over a decade ago. While studying at Middlebury College, I found myself drawn to Eastern religion and philosophy for the emphasis placed on cultivating self-awareness and embodying virtuous emotions such as compassion, generosity and patience. I decided that I needed to journey to the East and follow in the footsteps of so many seekers before me. I have not been disappointed with the decision I made to enroll with the School for International Training in Nepal. It changed my life so dramatically that I have made my home in Asia for the past decade. Among the many lessons that I have learned, perhaps the most potent has been learning to live in the present. Asia can demand your full attention in any given moment and challenge the ways in which you view yourself and the world.





You will all have experiences of intense presence, some that you might like to be forewarned of. Past students have expressed an appreciation for, shall we say, a heads up! So, with that said, be prepared for the potentiality of the following: dramatic changes in schedule, a lack of personal space, phases of too little or too much free time, being hungry, being intensely full, being more tired than you’ve ever been in your life, having to wait for transportation, being asked to do things you’re not totally psyched about, not having clean laundry, not having a toilet or having to use a dirty toilet, having to speak a different language, being laughed at, having sloppy diarrhea, once again, not having a toilet!, having to take a cold, bucket shower or having no shower (for days), hiking until your thighs burn and your lungs are ready to burst, eating unappetizing food, having to drop your expectations. . . and more than anything and perhaps implicit in all stated above, having to be uncomfortable and hopefully learning to extract a valuable lesson in being so!

However, you can also be prepared for the inevitability of the following: feeling your heart spontaneously open to virtual strangers, seeing more smiles in a day than you can count, experiencing acts of kindness and generosity from people who have seemingly nothing, being moved to tears and laughter unexpectedly, hearing words of insight and wisdom from respected members of the community, being accepted into a family as if you were their biological child, playing silly games with the most enthusiastic and curious kids you’ve ever met, holding farm animals, stuttering through a new language, saying “Malaai kushi laagyo!”, being spellbound by chanting monks, feasting your eyes on high, snowy peaks, filling your belly with copious amounts of daal bhat, meeting dreadlocked, ash covered yogis, watching monkeys play, and avoiding cows lounging in the city streets.



What lies ahead is hard to find words for. What is even more difficult is to be prepared for the journey. I imagine this note will find all of you at some stage of preparation. All I can say by way of advice goes beyond anything you can fit in your backpack. It’s important to start this sojourn with your loose ends tied up at home so that you can slip into the presence that awaits you. What I ask for you to all bring is an open heart and mind. Be ready to give up some control and let yourself flow. We leaders are here to provide a safe raft and a paddle to get you through the rapids. 



Finally I would like to comment on the program’s shift in itinerary from moving between India, Tibet and Nepal to a full semester in Nepal. Having led courses with both itineraries, my personal preference has always been for the latter. This is a particularly exciting time in Nepal’s history with the recent abolition of the monarchy, after 240 years of rule, and the establishment of a federal republic. I am happy to be part of Dragon’s move back into Nepal, once again a stable country. Our fall ’08, spring and fall ’09 groups really benefited from the shift and felt that they were able to explore Nepali culture and language in more depth. As instructors, we feel that we are able to present a more cohesive and well-rounded course. We are also able to invest in the community in a more meaningful way. You can check the yak posts from previous semesters to get an idea of what they experienced.





We will be checking the yak board regularly and encourage you to do the same. We are happy to answer any of your questions. We look forward to hearing from all of you by way of an introduction. By mid-January you will also find a course itinerary and some assignments posted to get you ready for the semester. Throughout the course, we will be posting yaks regularly to share our adventures with friends and family. For now, use it as a great place to get to know each other. 

I hope that this note finds you all healthy, happy and enjoying the winter. Until we meet . . . fare well.





Shannon Harriman

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Instructor Introduction

Shannon Harriman,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Namaste Friends,

 I hope you have all been enjoying the holiday season. It is hard to believe that the time is quickly approaching when we will meet in the Kathmandu airport and begin a sojourn that will change all of our lives. This journey will present challenges and rewards far beyond your imagination. It is […]

Posted On

01/4/10

Author

Shannon Harriman

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    [post_content] => After spending 91 days in Bolivia and Peru, the students are on their way home! (With the exception of Jamie, who will fly home from Lima next week.)

Our final week was busy: ISP presentations in Sorata, a weekend at Lake Titicaca on the Isla del Sol, and two final days in La Paz. The course ended on a high note, with lots of time for reflection, celebration, and FUN.

To all of the parents and others who made this course possible: thank you! Luispe, Mateo, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending the last 13 weeks with Bridget, Henry, Jamie, Jane, Kaitlyn, Kenzie, Kevin, Lauren, and Sophia. [post_title] => On their way home... [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => on-their-way-home-4 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2009-05-12 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=51866 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 397 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-spring-2010 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 397 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 257 [count] => 117 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 22.1 [cat_ID] => 397 [category_count] => 117 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-spring-2010 [category_parent] => 257 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2010/himalayan-studies-semester-spring-2010/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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On their way home…

I-Team,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

After spending 91 days in Bolivia and Peru, the students are on their way home! (With the exception of Jamie, who will fly home from Lima next week.) Our final week was busy: ISP presentations in Sorata, a weekend at Lake Titicaca on the Isla del Sol, and two final days in La Paz. The […]

Posted On

05/12/09

Author

I-Team

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