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Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007


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Hey!

So my pictures are finally up...sorry that it took so long. Like everyone else, i used picasa because its a lot easier...here's the link:

http://picasaweb.google.com/amarawarren

I miss you all tons and hope that you are all doing well!!

xoxo

amara

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Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

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PICTURES!!!

Amara,Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

Description

Hey! So my pictures are finally up…sorry that it took so long. Like everyone else, i used picasa because its a lot easier…here’s the link: http://picasaweb.google.com/amarawarren I miss you all tons and hope that you are all doing well!! xoxo amara

Posted On

08/22/07

Author

Amara

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There are two schools of thought about how to get into a cold pool. The first tells you to take your time, go in slowly and deliberately, a toe first, then a foot, until you work your way up to your whole body. The second (and more controversial) method says just the opposite, it has you jumping in with only a hope and a prayer.

In terms of culture shock, going to In&Out Burger just hours after arriving in the US after 6 weeks abroad……well, that can be likened to the second option.

Going to rural Minnesota afterwards? That’s like jumping in hugging a cube of dry ice.

When I left a teary-eyed Adam, and a sobbing Will at LAX, I headed for the Northwest terminal for my flight. Surprisingly, nobody asked what the bizarre long, thin, sock-covered item was carrying over my shoulder was. I only received some suspicious glances after I used it to hit a TV showing Barry Bonds and his ill-timed baseball coup d’etat. Luckily, my flight was leaving soon after, and I made my getaway cleanly.

After a pleasant flight, I arrive at my final destination, the land of 10,000 lakes. I brush my teeth, and make my way under big signs welcoming RNC delegates into Minneapolis, and into the arms of my nice, fairly narrow-minded, far right Republican, gun loving (and toting) grandparents. (I love them anyway.) Its good to be home.

-But it’s so flat here! Minnesota has as much interesting topography as a Twinky©. I keep wishing for dazzling snow-capped peaks.

-Also people are much nicer… (What’s the point of going to buy anything if you can’t call the vendor crazy “kyrong nyongba ray!!!!”, and walk away?)

-…and fatter. For some reason I notice everyone who is overweight now, I have an incredible radar for obese Americans. I can’t help it, I’ve gone 6 weeks without seeing a single fat guy, and now they’re everywhere!

-Also it’s annoying to be surrounded by people who are so much more provincial. When someone in my family talks about the global warming myth, or how Islam is an inherently violent religion, I feel depressed. Spending such a long time with such great smart people has left me spoiled.

Oh well.

-Alex

PS: I’m coming home on Friday.

PPS: I read Harry Potter in 10 hours.

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Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

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Oh give me a home……

Alex Schieferdecker,Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

Description

There are two schools of thought about how to get into a cold pool. The first tells you to take your time, go in slowly and deliberately, a toe first, then a foot, until you work your way up to your whole body. The second (and more controversial) method says just the opposite, it has […]

Posted On

08/16/07

Author

Alex Schieferdecker

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hey guys! so, photos are on: http://picasaweb.google.com/zo2zo000 - enjoy!

and if you haven't posted your photos, put them up!! I want to see them!!

On another note...I'm still making the adjustment back to western civilization, and it's definately difficult.

In staying connected with China, I'm reading "What the Buddha Taught" and "Shadow of the Silk Road" - they're both really good, and I totally recommend. The latter mentions some of the places where we traveled and things we saw, so that's cool.

I was looking at New York magazine, and, as those of you who are familiar with it know, there's a page called the "Look Book" that spotlights a New Yorker and briefly interviews him/her about personal style. The woman chosen this week was a French woman, and when asked where she lives, she responded, "Chinatown, because I love to be where I'm not supposed to be. I don't like to be around people who look like me - it's boring. It's more challenging when you don't understand the food, the language, the rituals. Your brain has to work a little more." What she said totally made me think of all of you and our adventure in China. And I totally agree - It's weird being back in New York because it's where I'm "supposed" to be and I'm around people who look like me and I understand the language, food, and rituals and my brain isn't doing as much work.

With huge amounts of love for everyone,

Zoe

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Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

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they’re up!

Zoe,Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

Description

hey guys! so, photos are on: http://picasaweb.google.com/zo2zo000 – enjoy! and if you haven’t posted your photos, put them up!! I want to see them!! On another note…I’m still making the adjustment back to western civilization, and it’s definately difficult. In staying connected with China, I’m reading "What the Buddha Taught" and "Shadow of the Silk […]

Posted On

08/14/07

Author

Zoe

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Hey tibet b family!

I miss you all. It's been wierd waking up without kate in my bed and zoe in the bathroom and cella still asleep and will strumming his dramyin and joe playing his harmonica (with his nose)and adam in his 'attractive' tibetan shirt, and jack making a funny face and alex talking about how 'phenominally stupid' propaganda is, and joey telling us how he hasn't pooped since a week ago, and chris educating us on music and sebastian buying ridiculous items and ziva ready to go having been up since 4 am, and tawni holding grapefruit seed extract, and matjaz singing the peptomatic song. wow, i miss you guys a lot. I've been eating yoguuuuuuuurt (myan) every day and i've been putting lots of tea in my sugar!!! Memories and stories and moments from trip are triggered by everything i do, every photo i look at, every journal entry i reread. I find myself indeed looking at my neighborhood and the people around me from new eyes. I realize i have gained a true love for nature and being in the city has made me long for namtso lake or ganden or draycule or shechen. Yesterday, i went on a walk (which i never would have ever thought about doing before i left) down to the river which divides boston from cambridge and I sat down and read the tao of pooh (thank you kate) and meditated. it felt so good and it brought me back to the times when we had meditated in kanding or at the sky-burial site or in the caves at draycule. I haven't yet loaded my pictures but i will soon. Ziva, i found a packet called sino-tibetan-something..i can't really remember the title. I think its yours so i'll send it to you if you give me your address. sorry for keeping it...i totally didn't know i had it. As for tibetan music, one of the cds we bought works yet i couldn't get the other one, the she shin dro ma (sp?) one, to play...any suggestions? I hope that everyone is doing well. I LOVE YOU ALL!!

xoxoxo

amara

p.s. kaket scale is about a 7

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Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

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i miss mifan!!!

Amara,Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

Description

Hey tibet b family! I miss you all. It’s been wierd waking up without kate in my bed and zoe in the bathroom and cella still asleep and will strumming his dramyin and joe playing his harmonica (with his nose)and adam in his ‘attractive’ tibetan shirt, and jack making a funny face and alex talking […]

Posted On

08/12/07

Author

Amara

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Today is our last full day in Tibet, and despite missing parents and friends from back home, many of the group members are not ready to leave. We have just begun to understand and feel at home in a place once so foreign. Lhasa, and Tibet in general, is a place full of contradiction. Tourist and native culture, foreigners and Tibetans, "progress" and tradition. As we struggle to find closure, group members reflect upon what their time here has meant to them, what they will bring home, what they will leave behind, how they're changed, and who has helped them along the way.

One of the people who helped me along the way was Jigme, a business and human resources teacher at Tibet University. The two of us drank tea and talked for over two hours hours in a crowded Tibetan Teahouse, discussing mainly the topic of my ISP-the conflict between capitalist and buddhist thought. Jigme was the prefect example of this conflict: a buddhist by religion, but a businessman by trade. In his class, he teaches competition, expansion, and greed. But in the monastary, he meditates on compassion, selflessness, and the interconnected nature of reality. How does he reconcile these two obviously conflicting ways of thinking? He believes the two are incompatible, and must be kept seperate. He believes that an economic system based on selfishness is perfectly efficient and cannot be competeted with, but that that kind of thinking must stay strictly in the economic sphere. I wonder if in America it has.

I brought that question back to the group on the first night of our trek, where we had a spirited discussion about buddhist philosophy, the true nature of happiness, what American society tells us to value, and how competition and selfishness manifest themselves in our daily lives. The discussion was left undecided, as most spirited discussions are, but was continued in various forms in the seperate tents.

My ISP taught me a lot about both American and Tibetan ways of viewing the world, and has changed my persective in ways I never anticipated. For this I am grateful. I hope I can bring back some of what I've learned to my daily American life.

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Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

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ISP

Joe,Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

Description

Today is our last full day in Tibet, and despite missing parents and friends from back home, many of the group members are not ready to leave. We have just begun to understand and feel at home in a place once so foreign. Lhasa, and Tibet in general, is a place full of contradiction. Tourist […]

Posted On

08/3/07

Author

Joe

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Hellooooo!!!

So these last few days have been... amazing. Filled with camping, hiking, star watching, caves and just general goodness. Unfortunately, we're back in Lhasa, thinking about going home... strange. It's just funny to think that we're going home, when we feel so at home here. Oh well...

We've had a bunch of ISPs presented in the last few days, and it has been so interesting. A bunch of different topics were presented, ranging from education to art to medicine to music to meditation.

My ISP concerned itself with Tibetan medicine. It started out approaching the concept of personality within medicine, and how to diagnose a patient. After meeting with a few doctors and having different experiences, I realized the difficulty in approaching personality with medicine. I learned a lot about general medicine on the way; after going to Mendzekhang (a Tibetan medical hospital) with the group, we were informed as to the medicinal Thangkas and their structures. Considering that the group had already gotten an overview of Tibetan medicine, I decided that my presentation would have to be changed. So, I looked into the different Buddhist families and personalities, and attempted to relate this to Tibetan Medicine. The five families each have a particular emotion: anger, pride, passion, jelousy or dullness. In a practice, one would attempt to turn such an emotion into a wisdom, and take solely the beneficial aspects of a specific trait.

I attempted to find a way that each person could find their own family. Through the use of color, season, and landscape each person tried to establish themselves as a member of a particular group. For some it worked better then others, but overall I enjoyed learning about this topic very much, and I hope that others enjoyed hearing about it.

Originally, Tibetan medicine was known to be a bond between health and spirituality. In recognizing these Buddhist families and these traits, one can find balance in their own personality. Balance concludes in spiritual discovery and wisdom, ultimately leading to health. Therefore, health is found through the balance of the spirit and the mind.

WELLLLL... that was my ISP presentation. I have to admit that initially I was a little concerned with what I was going to do... but it all randomly worked out in the end!!!

hoooraaayy!!

Cella

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Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

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ISP and suchhh!

Cella!,Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

Description

Hellooooo!!! So these last few days have been… amazing. Filled with camping, hiking, star watching, caves and just general goodness. Unfortunately, we’re back in Lhasa, thinking about going home… strange. It’s just funny to think that we’re going home, when we feel so at home here. Oh well… We’ve had a bunch of ISPs presented […]

Posted On

08/3/07

Author

Cella!

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The time here in Lhasa has been fast coming to a close.

Two days ago, we arrived back from a deeply moving and nourishing trip to the high (over 15,000 ft!) sacred NamTso Lake. The group received an initial shock of the recently developed sprawling "tourist town." Tin "guest house" shacks and impromptu restaurant tents sat crammed together, swarmed by foreigners solicited by economically-minded Tibetans to buy souvenirs and prayer flags. Five years ago when Tawni came to the lake for the first time, a tiny family-owned tea house nestled into rust-colored craggy cliffs provided the only sign of development across the wide plains leading up to the lake. Pilgrims sat along the shore collecting medicinal mani pills (perfectly spherical pebbles the size of pin heads) and monks and nuns in retreat caves would occasionally wander out, but seldom would one see any other tourists.

Today pilgrims and those in retreat still frequent the banks of Namtso, but there are also often seven to eight large tour buses along with smaller private landcruisers carrying up to a hundred or more tourists a day to the lake.

Luckily much of the tourist traffic leaves the lake at night, and with our evening arrival, students were able to spend the first night there exploring the small kora on a jutting peninsula into the heart of the immense lake, the second largest salt lake in China. Imprints of prostrations and great feats of ancient Buddhist practitioners are scattered throughout the searing boulder mounds, and an occasional yak rounds the corner to surprise both himself and the wanderer with an uproarious "Huff!"

Our second day at the lake allowed students to explore the Buddhist concepts of emptiness, interdepedence and selflessness illuminated by analogies with tracking, ecology and observing change and disturbance. Students followed the lessons with four hours of solo sit time and journaling spread out along the rocky cliffs along the shore, gaining a small taste for the longer retreats - from months to lifetimes that many great Buddhist practitioners undertake.

We had an evening reflections exploring the realizations and experiences each had gained from their solo experiences, and returned the following morning through rain and high mountain pass snows back to Lhasa.

We used time in Lhasa for doing ISPs - meeting with local contacts, artists, visiting schools, reading and preparing presentations. Most presentations will happen during the week that we will spent in mountains outside Lhasa, doing four days of trekking from Ganden to Samye and visiting holy caves of Drakyul. We will come back to Lhasa on the 3rd of August.

All the best till then!

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Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

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Retreat

Matjaz,Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

Description

The time here in Lhasa has been fast coming to a close. Two days ago, we arrived back from a deeply moving and nourishing trip to the high (over 15,000 ft!) sacred NamTso Lake. The group received an initial shock of the recently developed sprawling "tourist town." Tin "guest house" shacks and impromptu restaurant tents […]

Posted On

07/28/07

Author

Matjaz

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Here is a note from Yushu, the first city, after about ten days of amazing experiences in the middle of Kham. First there was the orphanage school service project, than an unforgetable home stay in the Shechen monastery where each student stayed with an individual monk or family testing their language skills and gaining a more intimate experience of Tibetan life. The Shechen experience included:

- lessons on death and dying at the local sky burial site (Tibetan practice of giving the deceased's body to vultures, returning them to the earth and completing the cycle of life);

- an inspiring talk by Gangshar Rinpoche (the founder of Shechen orphanage school and one of the main rinpoches in the area) discussing the extreme adversity he encountered when recruiting support for the school ("a rinpoche should be building monasteries not schools or medical clinics!" many said);

- a hike through the upper hills to see where instructor Matjaz did a one-month retreat during his two years in this area, exploring the upper sacred caves and learning local wild edibles along the way (wild onions, rose hips, stinging nettles, clovers, plantain, mustard and dandelion greens, wild carrots, mints, pine needles, and curly docks).

After that we hiked to Ashuk, Tsar tsar monastery, for nine hours. It was a solo hike, which means we all had time to observe our surroundings and our feelings from the first half of the journey. It was time to contemplate the experiences, that left a strong impact on all of us. Hawks soared above us, red-breasted dipper-relatives accompanied us with their song, and marmots wrestled playfully along the side of the road. Even a young antelope came to see us off along the way. We wound our way along the Zachu river valley, passing mounds of mani stones with Tibetan prayers etched into their faces offering blessings for the well-being, happiness and realization of all sentient beings. The only thing, that made a thorn, was the fact, that Kate and Jack couldn't join the entire group on the hike, since their bodies were recovering from past sickness. They came to Ashuk by car, joining us for rests along the river sides.

In the "suburbs" of Ashuk there is a small temple of King Gesar, the ancient and revered warrior king of Tibet. The caretakers and monk Tashi welcomed us with open hands and open hearts. Sometimes it feels that the language is not a barrier at all, since we can share our experiences in silence, and tell even more than with words. Tashi made an impact on the whole group. He is 28 years old, with the history of 8 years of meditative retreat, the personification of simplicity, a humble monk, and a beautiful person.

Tashi brought us to an audience with the main rinpoche of the area who has been the primary driving force behind the tremendous amount of development in the area (a trend we have been seeing throughout our time in Kham) - founding schools, medical clinics and access to better resources for locals, as well as retreat centers, monastic colleges and nunneries for higher Buddhist studies and investigations. Students noted the stark contrast of a politically well-connected and active religious figure to those we have met earlier whose primary activity has been solely in the interaction with students and religious study resources or on smaller scale development projects.

Tashi also showed us around the temple grounds where butt, hand and knee prints of King Gesar's activities were imprinted in the rock - "here's where he killed the demon birds attacking the kingdom as a child," "here's the sword marks of when his step mother tried to kill him, but the blade just went through his body, leaving him unharmed.")

Tashi also led us up a hillside to see an old yogi, who lived almost his entire life in retreat, and gave us blessing prayers and sacred healing water. His eyes reflected the color of the sky and his wide toothless grin, grey scraggly beard and contagious laughter reminded all of Merlin the great.

Students used the greater part of our afternoon processing their home-stays, the creation of culture among a people and observations specific to Tibetan and that of our own American culture. They explored the universals common to all human kind, and the beliefs, practices and perspectives we share as communities and that separate us out as individuals. They also began processing their own mini "retreat" - the solo trek along the way - how do we use our time during these spaces of silence? what do our minds explore? where do our minds wander? what are the challenges and fears that come up? the great joys? the calm interludes in between?

But as everything ends, the staying with our hosts ended too. We drove for twelve hours, through some amazing grasslands, high mountain passes (throwing lungtas - prayer leafs into the air)and passing some horse festivals along the way.

We came to Yushu, where we are staying in a nice local guest house, and the most welcomed thing here were showers, and of course internet and local restaurants (not that the food was not good in the past ten days, but a primary diet of Tibetan tsampa (roasted barley flour) left taste buds yearning for variety). Students still insist tsampa is great, even with a brief indulgence of "the best french fries ever" in the temple of King Gesar - local cuisine by instructor-chef, Matjaz, including veggies and cheese (local yak cheese of course), delighting Americans and Tibetans alike.

Students have enjoyed exploring "the big city" here in Yushu - testing out their chinese language skills to order lunch on their own, checking out local department stores, experiencing a newer mix and customs of greater Muslim populations now, observing rituals at the local monastery on a cliff overlooking the city, and beginning their first lessons in Lhasa dialect Tibetan (even chanting the alphabet mantra-style on our hike up!).

So here we are, packing our stuff again, leaving Yushu, on an 18 hours bus ride to Xining. The teaching of impermanence is present all the time, and that is why, we try to make this experience the best experience of our lives, so that there won't be only the memory left behind, but an imprint in our understanding of the world and ourselves.

From Yushu,

Demo (be happy)

Tibet B group

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Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

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from Yushu

ziva and tawni,Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

Description

Here is a note from Yushu, the first city, after about ten days of amazing experiences in the middle of Kham. First there was the orphanage school service project, than an unforgetable home stay in the Shechen monastery where each student stayed with an individual monk or family testing their language skills and gaining a […]

Posted On

07/17/07

Author

ziva and tawni

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    [post_date] => 2007-07-14 00:00:00
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“Hi! It’s been about ten days since we were last in touch, but all is well with the group at Shechen Monastery in Karze TAP, Kham. It’s been amazing to be working with Dragons students in this region as it’s SO new for everyone: us, the group and the local communities.

We were able to complete nearly 2/3 of our service project at the Shechen Orphan School. We finished insulating the girls’ room – walls and ceiling – and were able to finish all but the ceiling in the boys’ room. We’re expecting the the Dragons Tibet “A” group will pick up with the project as they move into Kham over the coming weeks. Our students were really excited to live at the school, and we were incredibly proud of them. You wouldn’t believe it: a group of 16 Westerners joining the most precious group of Tibetan children for every meal of the day. This meant Tsampa for breakfast, a blend of crushed, roasted grain mixed with a chunk of Yak butter and mixed, or balled together, with Yak butter tea. We ate lunch and dinner with them, and there wasn’t a single complaint. This food is VERY basic for Western standards. Our students spent a lot of time with the kids at the school: playing games, preparing lessons in English, making paper dolls and teaching ultimate Frisbee. Joe taught magic tricks and juggling. The group participated in Tibetan dance lessons for just about all of the six days we stayed at the school.

The service project required more time than we had anticipated. We had thought 2-3 days, but working in shifts we completed it in the 6. This hasn’t really affected our itinerary, though, so we’ll be heading for Tsar Tsar, Yushu and Xining on time, to then fly into the Tibet Autonomous Region. Those kids at the school were SO happy to see their rooms change. Now it’s summer, but looking at them you could see that they were very happy. The boys kept asking when their room would be finished, and they’re all looking forward to the winter to try it out! The school was a great place for daily structure. Each morning we would meet before breakfast; participate in body awareness meditation (which the students really like, and have been doing on their own); and talk about our roses and our thorns (a nice way to check in with everybody). We’ve been able to discuss development on a very deep level. This has been a very good environment for this, and the students have been having fun with it – even preparing discussions and some mock debates. We’ve also been concentrating on travel vs. tourism, and we organized a trial, with judges, lawyers and jurors. The students really got into their roles and they informed a very interesting discussion. They weren’t talking about “guilty” or “not guilty,” but inspiring something that was complex. It was a good environment for bonding and we really brought communication to another level. It was a safe and familiar environment. When it was time to say goodbye, many of us were teary and even some of the students have been talking about coming back in the future.

This has also been the best time in the journey to dive into ISPs and many have already made progress:

Cella – ISP on Tibetan Medicine. She met with a Tibetan doctor in Dzogchen, and is interested in focusing on the connection of Tibetan medicine with the personality of a patient; learning about the healing processes that involve meditative practice.

Zoe – Zoe asked ten of the students in the orphan school to draw an expression of Tibetan identity. She wants to take a look at how local communities express this through art. With a particular focus on school children, she’ll also meet with elementary age students in Lhasa, and with a PHD student of Tibetan art in Lhasa to explore adult expression as well.

Amara – She’s looking at the Chinese influence on Tibetan education; noticing the differences between education in rural versus urban areas of Tibet. She plans to compare Shechen schools with elementary schools in Lhasa. Amara spent some time interviewing teachers at the Orphan school

Jack – ISP on mantras. Exploring the meanings and usages of written prayer and how it appears in Tibetan space (ie, temples, rocks, on mani wheels). He’s exploring mantras from many different aspects.

Joe – Joe’s looking at the conflict, or relation, between Catholicism and the Buddhist way of life. He’s been researching and holding discussions with various people on this topic.

Adam – ISP on emptiness; exploring the Buddhist world-view on reality, with an aim to design a group exercise that would explain the concept of emptiness through experience, highlighting the main ideas behind this important concept.

Chris – He’s looking at the various meditative practices used in Tibetan Buddhism, and would like to design a guide to show the different practices. This would be something that we could all use and experience.

Sebastian – ISP on inner energy exercises that are used in Tibetan Buddhism for spiritual development. He’s very excited about this because of his interest in martial arts.

Alex – Alex’s project is very interesting and relevant. He’s looking at the distribution of waste in the Shechen area and is learning how the locals get rid of trash. He’s considering other ways for the people to dispose of their trash, and has mapped the Shechen community to know where the different major waste sites were located. He’s been thinking of ways to communicate the concept of separating trash. More than anything, this project has highlighted the fact remote Asian cultures have been introduced to modern products (such as plastic bags and tires), but they don’t have any means for disposing of it.

Kate – ISP on development, particularly the differences in which development is implemented in rural areas versus urban areas. We’re going to meet with the Shem Group in Xining, an organization that’s largely involved in projects throughout Tibetan Amdo Region, and they’ll be able to provide much insight into Kate’s project.

Joey – ISP on the different levels of opportunity available to locals from rural, nomadic vs. urban areas. He’s looking at jobs, education, and livelihood.

Will – ISP on Tibetan music, two parts: 1) the usage of music in monastic environments for religious purposes, and 2) learning to play the traditional Tibetan stringed instrument, the dramyin.

Also, before leaving the Shechen school, the students came to us with an idea. There’s one handicapped student at the school, and his wheelchair is in poor condition, with one wheel constantly falling off. The students want to use their money to buy a new chair in Xining. They’ll work either with the Shem Group or the Dragons Tibet “A” group to get the chair down to Shechen. This was really amazing to see these guys taking initiative and doing something about it!

The last evening at the school we held a farewell disco and karaoke night, giving everyone the chance to show off their musical skills. We sang Tibetan songs and there were performances by many different people (this included an extended melodramatic version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and a lot of dancing). Tawni and Sebastian demonstrated the making of a friction fire by rubbing wood. We made a fire like this, sang, and had an amazing farewell party.

From the school we traveled to the Shechen Monastery, which is about 45 minutes by truck from the school. It sits on a hill above a valley and it’s a very impressive sight. The monk houses and temples dot the skyline, and the temples have magnificent golden roofs. Shechen monastery is remarkably a well-kept and preserved monastery compared to many of those that were shelled during the Cultural Revolution or invaded between the 50’s and 70’s. There are an amazing number of monks practicing at Shechen Monastery – it’s truly a living place. We have the good fortune of having multiple contacts in the Monastery, so we’ve really gotten into the heart of this place. The first afternoon we went hiking to the holy mountain above the Monastery. High on the mountain are special healing mani stones and you can walk a circumambulatory khora routes to improve your health. There are also a number of retreat houses up there, where monks practice for years what they learn in the monastic college. There are also caves where some practice for months, years, life. There are handprints and markings in the rocks, and this place really made the theory of meditation come to life; it made us realize that all of this talk is not just theoretical, but that people are transforming their minds and lives through spiritual practice. It was a difficult hike, but the students really persevered and all came down on their own feet!

The students then settled in with their home-stay families. The male students have been living with individual monks from the Monastery. The girls have been staying with older women, likely in their 70s or so – also living in the Monastery as relatives of monks who are or were practicing there. The older women really adopted the girls. When Cella met her host grandmother, she said in Tibetan “I will take you in as my daughter.” With a pressure to move on – to Tsar Tsar, Yushu, Xining and then Lhasa – we can only stay two days here. The students have been living in varied conditions as some monks live a very, very simple life, and some have higher living standards. There’s really a rainbow of different living experiences and situations that are present in the Monastery.

This is the second day of our stay. From here we will head to Tsar Tsar Monastery, the birthplace of the great Tibetan King Gesar. In this region there are some amazing meadows and some of the most beautiful landscapes around. To get there, we will be walking from Shechen. It’s a distance of about 25 km, and we expect that it will take about 8 hours as a group. There aren’t any high passes, and the route is relatively straightforward – along a gravel road. It’s a pretty remote stretch. Our plan is to ask the students to walk the route alone, with instructors spaced at the front, in the middle and at the end of the line. We’ll really give each other space, only gathering at each village we pass along the way. The idea is that the students will finally have the time – after so much group activity – to travel with themselves, in the company of themselves. They’ll only be inspired by the nature and this wild landscape, and without doubt they’ll have the opportunity to communicate with and explore their own amazing hearts.”

-Matjaz, Tawni, Ziva, Jack, Kate, Sebastian, Will, Cella, Amara, Chris, Joey, Joe, Zoe, Alex, Adam

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Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

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From Shechen

The Group,Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

Description

“Hi! It’s been about ten days since we were last in touch, but all is well with the group at Shechen Monastery in Karze TAP, Kham. It’s been amazing to be working with Dragons students in this region as it’s SO new for everyone: us, the group and the local communities. We were able to […]

Posted On

07/14/07

Author

The Group

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    [post_content] =>  Tashi Delek from Karze! Our noble leaders are busy with running the trip, and keeping us healthy, so I have been tasked with writing this Yakity Yak.  

Our 12 hour bus ride from Kanding to Karze was at times a tedious, but also often a spectacular affair. Whether it was the constant smoking in the back of the bus, to the loud, violent beeping of the horn, something got on almost everyone's nerves at some point. But we perservered, and were rewarded with some of the most striking scenery on the planet. Rolling green hills gave way to tall rocky mountains and stunning vistas as we closed in on Karze. The mountains got taller and taller until we spotted snow. Karze lies under these mountains.

Matjaz describes Karze best; "like the wild west". The majority of the city is mud houses, with the richest citizens able to afford brick. Men walk around with jeans and cowboy hats. Theft is a real problem here, and sometimes it can be a problem for the theives as well, and some people carry knives close at hand. (DOn't worry parents!) Upon arriving in the city, we checked in at a nice guesthouse which had been recomended by previous Tibet groups. We then traveled to the hot springs in the town. The accomidations were nothing the type we would expect to see in the states, but hot springs in Tibet are the same as hot springs in the rest of the world, and provided a wellcome oppertunity to clean up. After the springs and a quick dinner we headed off for a well deserved rest.

The following day (today), we grabbed breakfast, and ambled over to a local Orphan School, similar to the one where we will be heading. There, work had been done which was similar to the work we have planned. We didn't just sit around looking at insulation however... we immeadiately bonded with the children of the orphanage, and when their classes let out we began several games of the universal: Duck Duck Goose. Jack also recieved a crash course in Tibetain with one of the smaller classes. When the classes began again, we left the orphanage and trundled up to the local monastery. We came at the right time. In honor of the birthday of His Holiness (the 7th) the monks of many local monasteries were having a great 10 day festival which includes ceremony and competitions in debating. Many locals had come to watch this battle of wits. It truely is a spectator sport too!

In a debate, one monk will hold a tenent of his monastery and monks from the other monasteries will try to prove it false. After each exchange, the monk who has finished making his point will adamantly slap his hand into his palm. As the debates (and lunch and prayers after) continued, we moseyed around the monastery, and met some monks who told us about the fesatival. HH has said that he doesn't want the different sects of Bhuddism to fight, and in that spirit, the debates we saw today involve members of each different order, something which has hardly ever happened!

We cavorted down from the gompa (monastery in Tibetain) in the afternoon, and after lunch we got free time. That is where things stand right now.

Tomorrow we will take a short (4 hours) bus ride to the Shechen Orphanage School. After our touching experience at the orphanage school today, we can hardly wait to spend a week there. That will mean that there won't be any contact by Yak Yak however. So consider this the last message from our group for a week.

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Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

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From Karze: by

Alex Schieferdecker,Tibet Cultural, Group "B", Summer 2007

Description

Tashi Delek from Karze! Our noble leaders are busy with running the trip, and keeping us healthy, so I have been tasked with writing this Yakity Yak. Our 12 hour bus ride from Kanding to Karze was at times a tedious, but also often a spectacular affair. Whether it was the constant smoking in the […]

Posted On

07/5/07

Author

Alex Schieferdecker

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