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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012


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Dear Families,
Please know that all students who are returning home from the Visions of India Semester have checked in for their international flight.
We have a Dragons Administrator on call over the weekend. Please leave a message on extension #30 if you have any questions.
Wishes for an exciting return,
Dragons Administration
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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

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Students heading home

Dragons Administration,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

Description

Dear Families, Please know that all students who are returning home from the Visions of India Semester have checked in for their international flight. We have a Dragons Administrator on call over the weekend. Please leave a message on extension #30 if you have any questions. Wishes for an exciting return, Dragons Administration

Posted On

05/11/12

Author

Dragons Administration

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Devi is a Hindu deity with several arms. Each embodies a different skill. If I were Devi and had the same ability I would choose a several skills. I would chose bravery and confidence as sone skill set because without bravery and confidence there is a large restriction for transcending boundaries and understanding myself. This has been proven true in my time in India as I have continued to push myself outside my comfort zone and received so much experience as a result.

I would also chose as ability to communicate in all languages. Through my time in India I have learned that knowing Hindi has made a large difference on my experience here. It has allowed me the ability to understand the culture on a deeper level because different perspectives from all walks of life have been revealed to me. I feel that language is an important tool to understanding the multi-cultural perspectives. There are so many people and cultures who have so much wisdom and knowledge, and knowing several languages would give me the ability to have insight on those elements.

I would also love to embody an arm of skill that knew when to be silent and when to speak. Silence is a very important thing that allows for reflection, and charishment of the moment. Balancing verbal expression and obeying the beauty of silence is a very tough skill to embody.

Persistence is another are that I wish to possess, becuase through my experience I have realized that drive and persistence lead to great success. If I wouldn't have been persistent about doing my CA readings and skicking with my ISP, this experience would not have been nearly as valuable. I realize that sometimes things aren't the most fun, but the end it is very rewarding.

Most of all, I would chsoe etneral health as a skill set. Getting sick can be hard to deal with when you are trying to be your best self and experience the most of life. Health was definitely a challenge on this course, but it was still amazing regardless.

All of these traits apply to me right now becuase I am trying to find myself, be my full self and experience the world. They might need a little more practice and courage than devis skillful arms, but I'm looking forward to the journey.

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

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CA Devi Journal

Sylvia Thomas,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

Description

Devi is a Hindu deity with several arms. Each embodies a different skill. If I were Devi and had the same ability I would choose a several skills. I would chose bravery and confidence as sone skill set because without bravery and confidence there is a large restriction for transcending boundaries and understanding myself. This […]

Posted On

05/10/12

Author

Sylvia Thomas

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One of the course assignments for our Cultural Anthropology class included interviewing a Sikh. I lucked out in that a good friend I had made at the place I volunteered at happened to be a Sikh. Her name is Niti Harneet, and the following is a transcript of a conversation we had started around her Sikh faith and the role it plays in her life:

-What exactly is the Sikh religion (pretend I have No background knowledge) and what is its significance/importance in your life?

Sikhism is a relatively newer religion as compared to other existing religions. It originated in India (which then included Pakistan and other surrounding areas) as an option for the growing blind faiths and practices that Hindus were primarily adopting at the time. It is a scientific religion which completely negates the idea of idol worship and believes in the concept of one God being omnipresent. The term ‘Sikh’ refers to the follower of one God who is a keen learner and observer and who does not waste his time in misleading and misguiding deeds. Every Sikh is made to adopt the two practices of working with honesty and his own hands (KIRT KARNA); and secondly to share with others fairly what he has earned (VAND CHAKNA). A Sikh is made to practice ‘SEWA’ or the practice of serving others selflessly. Sikhs ideally believe in practicing equality for all i.e. the Sikh shall not be allowed to practice the caste system. Initially this was the case, however as society developed, people took a liking towards the caste system, which is more influenced by the society than by religion itself. A Sikh prays to the Guru Granth Sahib. This is a religious text, which includes the words, thoughts, beliefs and poetry of wise men such as Kabir, Ravidas-ji, the Sikh prophets themselves and others belonging to different castes, creeds, religions and regions. A Guru is one who guides or teaches. Sikhs therefore bow before the Guru Granth Sahib, and treat him as their living Guru, since it has the power to teach and preach. A Sikh has an appearance which distinguishes him from others as, he/she will have not cut his/her hair, he/she will wear an iron/steel bangle on his/her wrist, the men wear turbans and have beards since they do not cut their hair (Their style of tying a turban being different from that of Muslims). There are two more practices, which however are only followed by those who follow religion very strictly i.e. to keep a small wooden comb in their hair and also wear a different type of underwear, which was enforced when the Sikhs became the warrior clan, because it was recognized as being more efficient to fight in.

-Are you a practicing Sikh, and if so what does that involve?

I am in some ways a practicing Sikh eg I don’t cut my hair. However a practicing Sikh would also pray every day, which I however only do as and when I feel like doing so because I believe that it is only then that we are truly connected, when the prayer comes from the heart. Also as a practicing Sikh, I would be required to donate one tenth of what I earn. However since I am not yet earning, donating money will have to come later.

-Will your potential future children grow up as Sikhs?

Even though I belong to a family which practices Sikhism, I like to think of religion as a path and not the destination. I will allow them to practice which ever religion they choose and will also allow them to choose whether or not to believe in God. I feel what is important is that you live a good life and do no harm to others. Working to serve others is service to humanity and service to God.

-What was it like growing up as a Sikh?

As a child, I was made to pray and follow the practices of my religion. By the age of 4 I knew the entire Morning Prayer by heart (which is a whole small book!). I believe that this was what my mother imposed as part of her desire to bring up her children the way she was brought up. However I still feel that that was not enough to deeply root my religion in me, an example of which is my free thought regarding the future of my prospect children.

-From what I have learned, the Sikh religion is more of a minority religion in India. Is this true and have you ever felt this to be a bad/good thing?

This to some extent is true. However the fact that people in the entire country recognize Sikh people from their appearance and know about them and their religion means that the religion carries on. There is a common saying in India – You will find a Sikh wherever you are in the world!

-Was the neighborhood you grew up in primarily Sikh?

Growing up in a more or less countryside type part of Manchester in England, the neighborhood was primarily Christian with very few Jewish people and absolutely no Sikh or Hindu families at all! The only time I got to meet with such families was when I went to The Gurudwara (Sikh Temple).

-Do you find great support within the Sikh community?

On average, yes. Sikhs are known for their honesty and also their eagerness to help others, irrespective of the other person’s caste, creed or religion.

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

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Interview with a Sikh

Christina Salomon,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

Description

One of the course assignments for our Cultural Anthropology class included interviewing a Sikh. I lucked out in that a good friend I had made at the place I volunteered at happened to be a Sikh. Her name is Niti Harneet, and the following is a transcript of a conversation we had started around her […]

Posted On

05/8/12

Author

Christina Salomon

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In my experience with India, which at times can be crazy and chaotic beyond reasoning, there have been moments of peace that have stood out and that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I would like to share one from our trek.

We were at Prashar, which is a sacred lake at the top of one of the mountains. There is a temple there, a lake with a floating island, a few small buildings and two stores with chaiwalas, or chai stands (to be honest, at this point in India I'm not suprised to find a chai wala at the top ofa mountain). I was sitting at the table in his stand sipping hot chai and looking out the dark wooden door frame to a green field and on the horizon, rising out of the obscurity of distance, were the proud, snowy peaks that the Himalayas are known for, against a blue sky filled with puffy white clouds.

I must have sat there for a good half hour, still holding my cup long after the chai was finished, simply enjoying the view. It was one of those moments of peace that come along every once in a while, where there are no worries in your mind, just a content feeling like you could remain there, in that moment, for the rest of your life.

It occured to me later that it was worth it, surviving those cold, exhausting nights to be in that moment of peace.I'm glad Icame to India.

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Best Notes From The Field, Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

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Moments

Ana Reinhold,Best Notes From The Field, Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

Description

In my experience with India, which at times can be crazy and chaotic beyond reasoning, there have been moments of peace that have stood out and that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I would like to share one from our trek. We were at Prashar, which is a sacred lake […]

Posted On

04/27/12

Author

Ana Reinhold

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Dear Family and Friends,

I spoke with the instructors this morning and received an update. From the sounds of it, they have certainly had quite the adventure thus far. While the days were dry and filled with spectacular views of the Himalaya range, the evenings and nights proved unsettling. They ran into torrential downpours and severe lightning storms, and just yesterday decided to reroute their trekking itinerary.

They rerouted to a small town in the region and are staying at a local monastery. Hopefully the roof won't leak! By day they will continue in the spirit of trekking through day hikes. I wish I was living in a Himalayan monastery!

They may or may not have internet access before heading to the meditation retreat in a few days. For now, know that they are happy, safe, and dry!

Reed

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

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Update from the Trek

Reed Harwood,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

Description

Dear Family and Friends, I spoke with the instructors this morning and received an update. From the sounds of it, they have certainly had quite the adventure thus far. While the days were dry and filled with spectacular views of the Himalaya range, the evenings and nights proved unsettling. They ran into torrential downpours and […]

Posted On

04/25/12

Author

Reed Harwood

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Dear Family and Friends,

In an hour or so we will be heading off on a bus to Manali, India! As a group we are very excited to exit the loud and dusty air of Banaras and Delhi (where we currently are) and escape into the clean, mountainous air of northern India. Tomorrow we will enjoy a rest day in Manali and then on the 21st we will start our trek. We hope the mountains will soothe away the various 'abuses' that Varanasi inflicted on our bellies and noses!!!! We will trek until the 28th of April and then will transition to the Deer Park Institute in Bir to begin our meditation retreat. Because we are together as a cohesive unit we have left student cell phones in Banaras. However, instructors have their cell phones and can always be reached by someone in the office.Our internet connection will be sporadic, but we will update the office as to our location at various points during the trek and retreat.

We look forward to sharing our adventures from the 'other side!'

Jyoti and the i-team

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

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To the Mountains!

Elizabeth Johnson,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

Description

Dear Family and Friends, In an hour or so we will be heading off on a bus to Manali, India! As a group we are very excited to exit the loud and dusty air of Banaras and Delhi (where we currently are) and escape into the clean, mountainous air of northern India. Tomorrow we will […]

Posted On

04/19/12

Author

Elizabeth Johnson

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So, we have left Varanasi and are now traveling through India in trains, busses, cars, and even camels! Yesterday we arrived in Agra at 5:00am. We freshened up, ate, and made our way to the Taj Mahal where we proceeded to spend two hours walking the ground and looking at the beautiful building.

Our new instructor Matt-Ji printed out some facts about the Taj. It was built from 1631-1653. Shah Jahan created in for his third wife who died giving birth to their 14th child. The Taj Mahal is the world's largest monument to love.

It is an amazing building. Amazing doesn't even describe it. There is a feminine energy surrounding the Taj and it's grounds. You would think it'd be hectic due to all the tourists, but it's not. It's quite peaceful. Matt-ji described it as "an elegant lady seated in meditation," which is the perfect analogy. When I was headed to the bathroom I couldn't stop thinking, "I'm AT the Taj Mahal, I'm at the TAJ MAHAL, I'M AT THE TAJ MAHAL!" My head started tingling because I was so excited!

India has challenged me in almost every way so far, and I think that's true for the rest of the students as well. She is teaching us lessons and expanding our horizons to a whole new level which I am so thankful for. I've learned to appreciate the moment when she lets me sit and admire the beauty she holds.

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

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Taj Mahal

Anne Conway,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

Description

So, we have left Varanasi and are now traveling through India in trains, busses, cars, and even camels! Yesterday we arrived in Agra at 5:00am. We freshened up, ate, and made our way to the Taj Mahal where we proceeded to spend two hours walking the ground and looking at the beautiful building. Our new […]

Posted On

04/18/12

Author

Anne Conway

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The path ahead.

Today, we had the first day of the Independent Study Program (ISP) presentations. Lee presented on the Gita and his intellectual insights, Adelaide showed her beautiful woven pieces and spoke about the close relationship with her mentor Salim-Ji, Nico gave an energetic presentation on yogic philosophy and his personal journey, Kristen and Amara taught us about ayurveda and shared their reflections. Sarah took us through different yogic postures and a variety of meditations. It was a full day.

Each presentation confirmed in my mind the importance of our time in Benaras and the wonderful mentors that we have here. Tomorrow, we will have a second round of presentations and I am ready to be inspired all over again.

Then, later in the evening, we have our Farewell Banquet will all of our friends and all of those that have made our time in Benaras so special.

We are leaving Benaras very soon to trek in the mountains. It will be sad to leave but as one door closes, another opens and the journey continues.

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

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The Road Ahead

Liam O'Leary,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

Description

The path ahead. Today, we had the first day of the Independent Study Program (ISP) presentations. Lee presented on the Gita and his intellectual insights, Adelaide showed her beautiful woven pieces and spoke about the close relationship with her mentor Salim-Ji, Nico gave an energetic presentation on yogic philosophy and his personal journey, Kristen and […]

Posted On

04/14/12

Author

Liam O'Leary

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    [post_content] => 

Greetings families and friends!

This past weekend our group ventured to Bodh Gaya to sit and meditate near the bodhi tree where Buddha attained enlightenment. Although the town of Bodh Gaya is nothing to write home about, the Mahabodhi Temple (which marks Buddha's original site of enlightenment) and its surrounding grounds served as a place of peace and introspection for most of our students. The place is powerful for many reasons, and one can't help but be moved by the number of pilgrims that travel from all over the world to chant, meditate and pay hommage to this sacred site.

This picture was taken in front of the Mahabodhi Temple on Sunday morning. Everyone is present except Lee....but he is still here with us! We promise!

This weekend our students are giving presentations on their Independent Study Projects and then Tuesday evening we will take an evening train to Agra. This will be our official goodbye to Banaras. On to the mountains! Everyone is grappling with the idea (and reality) of our imminent departure. Banaras has become our home away from home and we will miss it dearly.

But the journey must go on! Stay tuned for more 'news' from the road.

Jyoti

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Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

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Bodh Gaya

Elizabeth Johnson,Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

Description

Greetings families and friends! This past weekend our group ventured to Bodh Gaya to sit and meditate near the bodhi tree where Buddha attained enlightenment. Although the town of Bodh Gaya is nothing to write home about, the Mahabodhi Temple (which marks Buddha’s original site of enlightenment) and its surrounding grounds served as a place […]

Posted On

04/12/12

Author

Elizabeth Johnson

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It is difficult and maybe impossible to encapsulate anything of great meaning in words.Words are efficient and precise tools for expressing the mundane, factual world of the known. The time, date, and temperature can all be explained through a quick phrase, but the world of sight, sound, smell, joy, sadness, and compassion are not so easily communicable.Perhaps that's why we honor the great poets and writers, who translate the visceral feeling of the sound of a chirping bird or glint of sunlight through your bedroom window into language.

This past week a question brought this to the forefront of my mind. A friend from home casually asked me "how are you doing" online, and I sat there for a few minutes without responding. I couldn't respond because to translate the myriad of thoughts, feelings, and emotions I feel on a day -to-day basis here seemed a momumental challenge. Like climbing Mount Everest without an ice-pick. I am not a great wordsmith who has that subtle and creative power to bring my experience to life for someone a world away, I am someone who only sees words on a screen. You could say my ice-pick is dull and rusted. In that moment of disgust with my words, I realized why the practice of language is a beautiful and crucially important art. Words may be insufficient and finicky tool, but they are our main mode of communication. They are our ice-pick, and one must dilligently sharpen his axe if great mountains are ever to be summitted.

In the upcoming days the mountain which towers above me is my ISP presentation. My study with my guruji has been an amazingly rewarding experience. I came to India, to Dragons, in search of something. I came in search of answers to questions I could not yet formulate. Like millions of others for thousands of years I wanted to know the meaning and nature of the world, of life. My ISP study of the Bhagavad Gita with Shastriji stimulated my mind and heart with its aproach to these eternal queries. Each of my twenty-four meetings left me feeling more questioning, loving, and generally alive then when I knocked on the door and removed my chappals. So I feel pressure to capture some of the magic of those moments in my presentation. I feel a duty to myself, my guruji, and my peers to give some small piece of what I've been given back to the world. But it won't be easy. If one could express enlightenment in speech we would all be saints.

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Best Notes From The Field, Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

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From Here to Home

Lee Eames,Best Notes From The Field, Visions of India Semester, Spring 2012

Description

It is difficult and maybe impossible to encapsulate anything of great meaning in words.Words are efficient and precise tools for expressing the mundane, factual world of the known. The time, date, and temperature can all be explained through a quick phrase, but the world of sight, sound, smell, joy, sadness, and compassion are not so […]

Posted On

04/11/12

Author

Lee Eames

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