Photo of the Week
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    [post_content] => My homestay sister takes my hand in hers, turning it over, and tells me that my hand, white, is good, and her hand, black, is bad. No, I tell her. Your hand is beautiful, you are beautiful, your dark skin is beautiful. But with so few words that I know, how can I make her understand? That her hands, at 17, are strong, cook for her family, take care of her younger siblings, clean, mend, wash- her hands know how to do so much more than my soft, white, 19 year old ones. Little girls, bahinis, take my hands as I walk through the village- kissing them, offering to carry my bag, telling me I am good. Because I smile at them, they offer to wash my clothes, want always to be by my side.  They want the things that I have: my camera, my bracelets, my water bottles. But how do I tell them that even with all these things, I am not always happy? How do I tell them to run, to play, to skip, to get dirty, to stop coveting the things I have because they are shiny and new. It's human nature to want what we don't have, to be intrigued by what seems out of reach... And who am I to tell them what to want? If only they knew what it took me 19 years to know. That to have isn't to be happy. To have things isn't to have life. That I have seen more life in my few days in their village than in many years where I live. The teachers told us to be careful coming here. Warned us not to corrupt these people, the rhythm of their lives. Warned us the power of our white presence, that we would be inadvertent salespeople to the Western way of life.

Now, being here, I understand. Families invite me in, want to soak up my presence, ignore my crude and foolish attempts in their language. Perhaps a part of this is Nepali hospitality, but it's as if I hold a glimpse into the lives they wish they lived, as if being near me will bring them closer to what they think will make them happy. But don't you see? I wish I could ask. I know no more than you. I, too, am looking for what will make me happy, what will make me feel whole, I came all the way to your small mountainside village looking. Small children follow me and my friends around, like little parrots, imitating and repeating anything we say and do. They think they should be more like us, we long to live more like them. More simply, with more community, more bonded with nature, more freely. If only they knew how broken all of us were from growing up in our country. That we came here to escape all that they chase.

But what can I say? I tell them their village is good, their homes are good, their food is good, and I mean all of it. But with my rudimentary Nepali skills, there's no way for me to tell them to cherish their simple way of life, to cherish their strong family ties, to work hard, to sleep well, and know that although their clothes may be tattered, that they don't want what we have, really.

When my sister sat by my side, turning my hand over in hers, I imagine she was pondering what her life would be like had she grown up in America, like me. If her hands hadn't been hardened by manual labor, by the flame of her wood stove. She indulged, I imagine, in a moment of wishing, of wondering, of wanting. She's happy, I see this, but what if is a seductive question to ask. Meanwhile, I sat wondering why people wanted to be like me. I sat feeling the weight of all I could do with my life. I sat thinking how long it had taken me to find the peace these children seem to be born into. I wondered how to make my life more like hers.
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SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

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Chaukati

Zoe Barr,SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

Description

My homestay sister takes my hand in hers, turning it over, and tells me that my hand, white, is good, and her hand, black, is bad. No, I tell her. Your hand is beautiful, you are beautiful, your dark skin is beautiful. But with so few words that I know, how can I make her […]

Posted On

04/12/17

Author

Zoe Barr

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    [post_content] => I'm not gonna lie, living in Chaukati has been a great challenge. Adapting to this community was an adventure in itself. The village which consists of approximately 100 households and is on the side of the hill, welcomes you from the moment you step in. Even with a considerable language barrier you can communicate with young children and teens, adults however not so much. Most of the households were destroyed in the recent earthquake, so many of the houses are single room houses. I lucked out and had a three room house. I shared my room with my brothers some nights, relatives on others and alone on others. About a 10 minute walk away was a waterfall, which we visited religiously, where local kids swam, bathed and passed time. Theres a lot to do, from milking goats, plowing fields, harvesting crops to playing games with children. The lack of external distractions allowed me to think of my life now and of my future. It's a calm lifestyle, theres plenty of time to read, think and converse.It was a challenge and an adventure for all of us, some parts were overwhelming making me miss my comfortable life back home. But now, as we prepare to head on the trek and our homes. I have to admit that I'll miss the calm and peace that this lifestyle made me feel.
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SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

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Off Grid

Alfredo Perez,SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

Description

I’m not gonna lie, living in Chaukati has been a great challenge. Adapting to this community was an adventure in itself. The village which consists of approximately 100 households and is on the side of the hill, welcomes you from the moment you step in. Even with a considerable language barrier you can communicate with […]

Posted On

04/10/17

Author

Alfredo Perez

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    [post_content] => When we first arrived in Chokati I couldn't help but feel so overwhelmed at the things around me. I was swallowed by the green hills around me. I was nervous to meet my host family. But as I reflected on the nine days we have spent here, I feel so drawn to this place and I know I'm exactly where I'm meant to be.I have a younger brother, Abhishek he is 2 and a sister Anjana she is 4. I have bonded so much with my family, my parents and grandmother. I am also finding that I am incredibly attracted to this simple life. Cooking my favorite dal bhat on the fire every night is wonderful. I am so fortunate to experience a part of the world that I never thought of before. Without being able to correctly form sentences in Nepali, I've managed to laugh until I am tears with my host mother and to form relationships with people that will last a lifetime if I nurture them well. Staying in Chokati for such a short period of time has changed my life in many ways I can't quite put into words. But I couldn't be more thankful or happy to be here.
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SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

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Chokati

Olivia,SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

Description

When we first arrived in Chokati I couldn’t help but feel so overwhelmed at the things around me. I was swallowed by the green hills around me. I was nervous to meet my host family. But as I reflected on the nine days we have spent here, I feel so drawn to this place and […]

Posted On

04/10/17

Author

Olivia

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    [post_content] => Having never spent time in a rural community before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect last week as our course moved to the quiet mountain village of Chokati. I assumed it would be very different from the busy , dusty city, but I never would have imagined just how different it would be from anything I had ever experienced.Time doesn't seem to exist here in the fundamental, all pervasive way it rules elsewhere. In my homestay family for instance I was the only person who wore a watch. My family didnt have a wall clock why would they need one? The sun kept the time and seasons just fine. This past week has been probably the closest I will ever feel to the infinite eternity of childhood. At first it felt somewhat like a parallel universe but the more that I watch the villagers do their daily work, building houses, carrying crops in baskets from the fields, making daal bhat each morning and evening, raising their children the more I feel that this is how life has always been and our "modern" lifestyle has somehow forgotten. We in the west do not, for the most part, produce our own homes, food or material possessions. Somehow in the process of disconnecting from what fulfills our basic human needs,  I feel we forgot a part of what it means to be human.Everyday we carried rocks from the bottom of a fallen retaining wall to the top of the hill (and sang barbershop quartet style work-songs when the mood struck). We would have informal lessons in Nepali, sustainability, environmental issues, global economics. We would drink copious amounts of tea! And often, after class, we would go on local adventures, to the waterfall, or the terraced fields above. Without all the usual distractions of home or in the city, life took on a more expansive quality. We didnt live in timetables like we do at home. Sometimes this felt daunting. In the city, a difficult thought or feeling could easily be overlooked there was so much to do and see. In the village I am forced to confront the inherent uncertainty of the future. But as I sit on the rocks of the stream by my homestay past the mooing buffalo and the mustard green field, it seems to matter less. And just as the river flows and the seasons change everything passes in its time without worry. And so pass the days, numberless and unbound by schedules and expectations and yet all things are done (and without to do lists). Nature breathes freely in this village in a way I am sure she longs to at home.
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Best Notes From The Field, SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

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Time in Chokati

Tori W,Best Notes From The Field, SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

Description

Having never spent time in a rural community before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect last week as our course moved to the quiet mountain village of Chokati. I assumed it would be very different from the busy , dusty city, but I never would have imagined just how different it would be from […]

Posted On

04/10/17

Author

Tori W

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    [post_content] => Living in Chokati is tough: waking up at 6 AM to start labor on a house for three hours, then tending to livestock, then to the farm; cooking for sometimes one hour on a small wood fire; walking one hour to the nearest temple, three to the nearest town.

Living in Chokati is also astonishingly easy: I wake up at 6 AM to the sound of birds and a rushing river; working on the houses is fun with everybody cracking jokes and singing songs as we smash rocks and slather mud mortar into the cracks; people lovingly give extra greens or food to their neighbors; there is always some aunt/uncle or friendly grandma to watch the children/house while the others are at work; there really isn't even too much need to go to the nearest town because the person who next goes can bring you whatever you need.

My favorite memories of Chokati are picking thimbu (mulberries) with my homestay bahinis in the fresh mornings (watch out for the sour ones!), harvesting honey from beehives with my homestay father (watch out for the stinging ones), and sharing long conversations and simple meals of daal bhat with any and every person who comes into our household. Funnily enough, most of these memories are food-related, but they also revolve so much around the sense of openness and community here. I've learned in Chokati how to build and rely on a family and how the simplest, most natural way to do things is oftentimes the most rewarding. Even the sour thimbu are sweeter Han any storebought berries and don't even get me started on the fresh honey! Yes, being in an earthquake-stricken village in the Himalayas does take an initial adjustment. But now, this place—these people—is one of the places in the world I am most proud to call home.
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SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

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Mulberries, honey, and a village

Sheenu,SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

Description

Living in Chokati is tough: waking up at 6 AM to start labor on a house for three hours, then tending to livestock, then to the farm; cooking for sometimes one hour on a small wood fire; walking one hour to the nearest temple, three to the nearest town. Living in Chokati is also astonishingly easy: I […]

Posted On

04/9/17

Author

Sheenu

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    [post_date] => 2017-04-08 21:13:53
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    [post_content] => Hello Friends and Family,

The group just sent a note from their last day in village wanting to share that they had an amazing week living and working with their Chaukati hosts.  On the final evening they had a little homestay party and celebrated the success of finishing their project at the school.  Early this morning they headed out on their trek up the Rolwaling valley, where they will be for the next 16 days!  All students are in good health and excited for this final component of the trip.

We will be posting updates that we receive from the group as they slowly gain in elevation and come closer each day to the high peaks.

Be well,

 
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SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

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From village to trek

Shannon Harriman,SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

Description

Hello Friends and Family, The group just sent a note from their last day in village wanting to share that they had an amazing week living and working with their Chaukati hosts.  On the final evening they had a little homestay party and celebrated the success of finishing their project at the school.  Early this […]

Posted On

04/8/17

Author

Shannon Harriman

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2017-04-02 20:57:54
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    [post_content] => Hello Friends and Family,

The group has settled into their homestays and their slower routine in the village of Chaukati.  After a 4 hour hike up to the village, they were welcomed by the community - happy to have another group of Dragon's students after a 2 year break.  Because of the earthquakes devastating impact on this village, they were unable to host for the past 2 years.

Dragons has a long history with the village of Chaukati.  We took our first group their in 2008 and visited every semester up to the earthquake.  Many past students have benefited from the hospitality and generosity of the Thami people.  We worked side-by-side with community members on various projects over the years and are happy to be helping this semester rebuild a rock wall that fell in front of the newly built school.

When more updates come in we will be sure to post a note.  Please know that the group is doing well and soaking in this experience.

 
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SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

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A slower pace in Chaukati

Shannon Harriman,SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

Description

Hello Friends and Family, The group has settled into their homestays and their slower routine in the village of Chaukati.  After a 4 hour hike up to the village, they were welcomed by the community – happy to have another group of Dragon’s students after a 2 year break.  Because of the earthquakes devastating impact […]

Posted On

04/2/17

Author

Shannon Harriman

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    [post_date] => 2017-03-30 01:18:27
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-30 07:18:27
    [post_content] => Amelia
    [post_title] => Amelia's drawing
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SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

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Amelia’s drawing

Shannon Harriman,SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

Description

Posted On

03/30/17

Author

Shannon Harriman

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Hello Friends and Family,

Please enjoy this picture that was taken of our group with our khempo(teacher) and translator from our recent Buddhist retreat.

Today, we set off for the village of Chokoti. Dragons has a long relationship with that village and we're excited to be going back. While staying in the village, we will fall into the rhythm of its life-helping in the fields and taking care of animals. In this part of the world, it's said that the true soul of a country lives in its villages and we're excited to be part of that. Chokoti was badly affected by the earthquake two years ago and we are going to learn about the rebuilding efforts.

From Chokoti we will start our trek up into the Rolwoling Valley where we will trek through valleys of flowers up to a glacial lake at around 14,000 ft.

We're excited to combine our village stay and trek. It's a rare opportunity not all Dragons groups get to do. But it also means we will be out of regular communication for most of the next 3 weeks. We'll be back in the Kathmandu Valley around April 25 and the students will have email access after that. In the meantime, we instructors will continue to submit updates and hopefully a few pictures to the office to be posted here. We and the students are so excited for this next adventure!

With love,

Himalaya B

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The next few weeks…

Instructor Team,SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

Description

Hello Friends and Family, Please enjoy this picture that was taken of our group with our khempo(teacher) and translator from our recent Buddhist retreat. Today, we set off for the village of Chokoti. Dragons has a long relationship with that village and we’re excited to be going back. While staying in the village, we will […]

Posted On

03/30/17

Author

Instructor Team

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    [post_content] => We were in the midst of our retreat under thousands of prayer flags fluttering in Namobuddha. Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world come to pay homage to this sacred place. Our daily schedule wads early am yoga; followed by meditation, teachings and discussions on Buddhist philosophy. An afternoon and an evening slot of free time to lie down on the grass outside that opens up to an amazing view. The valley below bears brown and red freshly ploughed terraced fields some of it covered in luscious dark green of mustard greens and fruit trees. It is while breathing in this view that we wonder as to why our revered khenpo said “ empty is not the empty sky.” Here we shared our meals with the monks. As soon as we sit in the dining area we are handed out plates and a serving of bhat, dal, vegetables and sometimes one fried dried red chilly. The whole hall echoes in chants as the monks start chanting. The first prayer before the meal is an offering prayer, when we are done with our meals another series of chants follow. This is the dedication to all sentient beings in this universe. When was the last time we were so grateful for a meal? To witness so much gratitude in a humble meal expands our hearts!!
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Namobuddha!

Sharon Sitling,SPRING: HIMALAYAN STUDIES B

Description

We were in the midst of our retreat under thousands of prayer flags fluttering in Namobuddha. Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world come to pay homage to this sacred place. Our daily schedule wads early am yoga; followed by meditation, teachings and discussions on Buddhist philosophy. An afternoon and an evening slot of free […]

Posted On

03/28/17

Author

Sharon Sitling

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