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India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008


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It has been about seven months since I arrived from India, and there has not been one day in which I haven't thought about my trip. As I think of the beautiful mountains, the peace, tranquility, silence... I yearn greatly to go back everyday, away froma hectic city that sourrounds me, away from the a corruptedmoralsof my society, and into the pureness of nature and seclusion.Wouldn't it be great to soar through impecableblue skies,over landscapes thatknow not of crime, money, racism, pollution...?

It gives me extreme joy to know that I was part of such an amazing program.My experiences of last summer will go with meeverywhere life may take me. Eventhough I may seem the same, great transformation took place during those six weeks, and I know that my life will never be the same.

For seven months I've been wanting to write this, and for seven month no words would come to my mind.Now I know that even though I will probably not be able to go toescape my present situation of agravating schoolwork and empty lessonsin classrooms, I will always have memories that willhelp metravel thousands and thousands of milesin the small and obscure corners of the Indian subcontinent.

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India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

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Just thinking

Framcisco Maldonado Andreu,India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

Description

It has been about seven months since I arrived from India, and there has not been one day in which I haven’t thought about my trip. As I think of the beautiful mountains, the peace, tranquility, silence… I yearn greatly to go back everyday, away froma hectic city that sourrounds me, away from the a […]

Posted On

03/5/09

Author

Framcisco Maldonado Andreu

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I went to the dirty slums of central India, the impoverished and archaic villages of northern India, and the treacherous trails of the Indian Himalayas. I wanted be in a place where every sight and sound was foreign, every experience was new and enriching. India was the place I thought I knew the least about, so that was where I chose.

Three weeks into my trip, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning in the rural home of Tsering, who swung open my bedroom door where I had stayed for ten nights. He brought with him three things: hot chai, a stale biscuit, and a task he seemed excited about.

I spoke no Ladakhi and Tsering spoke no English, so I had no idea what I was in for. I struggled out of my sleeping bag, slurped my tea, and stumbled into the main room where Tsering was sitting next to two backpacks full of tools and wood. We both put them on and I followed him out the door.

Outside his home, he pointed towards a distant valley wherein a large river surged. We walked down and alongside it.

After hours of trudging through the arid highlands, we arrived at a small shack with something like a water wheel attached to it. Tsering knocked on the door and a few moments later an old man answered. They conversed for a bit and then walked to the inner mechanics of the water wheel. Smiling, he said something to Tsering, gestured towards his eyes, and started chuckling just as a jolly old man should. I realized then that this man was totally blind and felt disgraceful for not seeing it.

Then I got to work: nailing joints, picking up timbers and yak bones, and helping Tsering hammer with a rock. We finished up in about an hour. Afterwards, the old man made us ginger tea, thanked us and we left. Hiking back up the valley, I realized what had just occurred. I hadn’t just fixed a water wheel. I helped maintain the existence of an 85-person village that had been there for hundreds of years.

It wasn't until I finished this activity that I had a thought which now makes me cringe: Did we forget our pay? Looking up at Tsering, I knew, just by his expression, he had already been paid. His pay was the intrinsic value that came with helping out a blind old man. It wasn't "community service".

This realization ran counter to everything I had previously known. Trying to sort out my thoughts, I looked up and saw the Himalayas, a herd of grazing blue sheep, and other mud houses reminiscent of Tsering's home. I took a deep breath of the dry Ladakhi air, straightened my back, and walked home with a fulfillment unlike what I felt after receiving an A on a test or getting paid a salary, a satisfaction more authentic than anything I had experienced before.

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India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

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My College Essay

Nate Wilson,India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

Description

I went to the dirty slums of central India, the impoverished and archaic villages of northern India, and the treacherous trails of the Indian Himalayas. I wanted be in a place where every sight and sound was foreign, every experience was new and enriching. India was the place I thought I knew the least about, […]

Posted On

11/16/08

Author

Nate Wilson

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Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons' "North India: Himalayan Adventure" summerprogram. Our sample itineraries are based on past courses; in order to meet instructor team goals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups, itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course's Yak board for additional itinerary-related postings and updates.


Week One:
Orientation in LA; layover in Bangkok; arrival in Delhi: Chadni Chowk market, Jami Masjid, India’s largest mosque; flight to Leh; Begin home-stay with local families.

Week Two:
Home-stays; artisan internships, ISP work; visit regional monasteries, begin study of Tibetan Buddhism. Service work with local NGOs.

Weeks Three - Five:
Trek and explore valley systems outside of Leh: Nubra, Markha valleys, options for extended trek in Zanskar drainage; travel to Spiti, explore more remote drainages that rise up from Keylong.

Weeks Five - Six:
End trekking component, travel to Manali to enjoy hot springs and meetings with venerated lamas. Travel by bus to Delhi; train trip to Agra for exploration of the Taj Mahal.

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India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

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Indian Himalaya: Sample Itinerary

Dragons Administration,India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

Description

Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons’ "North India: Himalayan Adventure" summerprogram. Our sample itineraries are based on past courses; in order to meet instructor team goals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups, itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course’s Yak board for additional itinerary-related […]

Posted On

10/15/08

Author

Dragons Administration

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I've been wanting to write something for a really long time but I keep postponing the date over and over again. I've been in school for a couple of weeks now and I can't tell you how much work I've had. Every day I wish I was back in the Himalayas just for a couple of minutes to take a break from everything. It has been easy for me to adapt to my usual way of life but it has been frustrating to do so having expienced the silence and peace of the himalayas, the simplicity of the Ladakhis, buddhists' ways of living, the strength of a country fighing for their rights in exile and the living conditions of people in the streets of Delhi. It has been frustrating not being ablee to put into words my expirience in the trip and having to try and expalin it in only a couple of words (since the moment I got back I got to understand what Alex said she went through when she got back from Thailand and was asked about her trip). Through these experiences I get to appreciate more and more our trip and all that I gained from it. I miss all of you guys and wished we would communicate more often!!! Hope you are all well:

Gaby

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India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

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I’ve been wanting to wright this for a while

Gabriel Maldonado,India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

Description

I’ve been wanting to write something for a really long time but I keep postponing the date over and over again. I’ve been in school for a couple of weeks now and I can’t tell you how much work I’ve had. Every day I wish I was back in the Himalayas just for a couple […]

Posted On

09/7/08

Author

Gabriel Maldonado

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Hi there Himalaya friends,

It is good to hear a few voices on the yak board. I must admit, I have been on facebook a few times and I got a chance to see John's pictures from our trip. I think of you guys often and I miss you all.

I came home and had some similar feelings to John and Matt. The same old coyotes were howling in the hills as I brushed my teeth the night I came home and my parents house hadn't much changed. I found piles of books right where I had left them downstairs. There were few new messages on my cell phone and in some ways it felt like I had never left. I picked up right where I left off and helped with dinner, quickly unpacked my bags, hung out with my sister, and went to bed.

But as these days go slowly by in the heat of the Southern California hills, my mind keeps wandering back that long drive we had from Kaza to Manali, where we drove for hours and hours in the dry, rocky, familiar, Ladakh-looking landscape and then suddenly, as though it meant nothing at all, the mountains turned green. Within five minutes, it seemed like we went from the driest desert mountains to jungle--waterfalls, real trees and all. For me, the process of transitioning home feels a lot like that drive. I'm just home. It's simple. I know this California landscape well and it too is dry, rocky, and desert-looking, like Ladakh. It feels familiar and normal and almost monotonous the way long mountain drives start to make you think your driving in circles, seeing the same rocky cliff again and again. In some ways I feel like I've been in this familiar landscape forever and I never left it this summer to travel halfway across the globe. But then suddenly I'll be struck by something the way the green hills of Himachal Pradesh snuck up on us then and I'll think, "what? we do that here?" or "whoa, how had never noticed that before?". Often it is the most familiar, "normal" things that hit you in a green-hill moment as suddenly curious contraptions, ideas, or ways of doing things.

For example, when my family said goodnight that first night I arrived home and we all walked off into our separate rooms, I thought, "do we really all sleep in our own rooms? we're so far from each other". Or when I used the toaster in the morning, I was awed by the fact that you could put about ten pieces of toast in our toaster at the same time. Or when I wrapped a present up in a khatak for a friend and she asked what it was and let one end hit the floor, I somehow felt awed that not everyone knew what a khatak was.

One thing I always bring back from India with me is a renewed sense of awe and curiosity about the way we do things here and about the amount of knowledge and experience I gained in India that lies totally outside of my life experience at home. No matter how normal life may seem at home, I'm sure you are all experiencing those moments of green hills, being surprised by or just more acutely aware of some small or large thing that we've always known about, but see now with new eyes. It is in those moments that we can both come to understand what we did this summer better and embrace our life here more fully. I encourage all of you to explore things with your new eyes and I would love to hear more about it.

On another note, I would like to say thank you to each one of you -- Armaan, Jane, Alex, John, Matt, Nate, Chez, Bryan, Gaby, Fran, Sally, Nikeyu, Tawni, and Cam -- for giving me such an amazing experience this summer, for sharing of yourselves with me, and for teaching me so much about the world. I was truly impressed by each of you this summer in so many different ways: hiking up the Parang La (or more impressive, hiking up the second pass just before camp and after the Parang La), moving into Ladakhi houses in Nee with little language skills to help you, carrying rocks to the gompa in the hot morning sun, actually enjoying long bus rides (I know you did even though you might say you didn't), trying new foods, new clothes, new languages, new landscapes, and continuing to travel and learn and embrace our experience even when you were sick out all ends. Thank you for taking on this experience and for really giving yourselves to it.

Coming home will likely have many phases, some easy and some hard. I've already said it once, but seriously, if you ever want to talk give me a call or email me and as long as I am not out at sea or in the mountains, I will write back right away. On that note, I will be out of touch from around August 22 to Sept 22 because I will be on the boat. I'll definitely tell you all about it when I return. Until then and after, keep in touch.

Take care,

Kylie

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India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

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Green hills

Kylie Manson,India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

Description

Hi there Himalaya friends, It is good to hear a few voices on the yak board. I must admit, I have been on facebook a few times and I got a chance to see John’s pictures from our trip. I think of you guys often and I miss you all. I came home and had […]

Posted On

08/13/08

Author

Kylie Manson

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Hello everyone,

getting back home was really good and at the same time kind of alarming. It is great to have all the luxuries of American life back, such as freedom, beef, good music and action movies; but it s also weird to be able to walk down the street without seeing someone chilling in the third world sit or going to someone's house and not having tea. The transition hasn't been too bad, but i do miss all you guys. Right now I'm at the farm, taking care of chickens and sitting on my ass. I can't wait to see all your pictures!

Matt.

p.s. Pittelcock, the name is Teezy Weez, not Wheez. Lemme know when your coming to New York so we can ball outrageous.

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India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

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From Dharamshala to Straight Balla-Back to New York

Matthew Friedman,India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

Description

Hello everyone, getting back home was really good and at the same time kind of alarming. It is great to have all the luxuries of American life back, such as freedom, beef, good music and action movies; but it s also weird to be able to walk down the street without seeing someone chilling in […]

Posted On

08/12/08

Author

Matthew Friedman

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Hey guys.

I know I've talked to a lot of you already since getting back, but I just wanted to tell all of you how I'm doing. Life at home hasn't been that strange, crazy, or different than it was before. I think I made a deal with myself to just get back into the flow of things as quickly as possible and I think I've done a pretty good job with that. I went to in-n-out my first night back with my sister (cameron-its waiting for you...and its as good as ever). I went and saw the dark knight that same night. It was very good. Last night I dove back into the high school scene and went to a party. That was a strange feeling actually. I didn't get to bed untill late, and with no one home to wake me up, I slept until 2. I guess I am pretty tired.

A lot of my friends asked how India was and it's true, many just want you to say 'good' and then move on with your life. Luckily for me I have a few really good friends who want to hear all the stories and are actually interested in what I learned. They're disappointed when they learn I'm not a Buddhist, despite the beads on my wrist.

I watched the opening ceremonies and was actually disgusted when China had the nerve to put Tibet up as one of the regions the torch passed through peacefully as the guy ran around the rim of the stadium before lighting the torch. Was I the only one who noticed that? It was annoying.

Other than that, life is good out here in California. Hope all you are well too. Keep in touch.

john

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India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

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Living as Usual.

john ceremsak,India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

Description

Hey guys. I know I’ve talked to a lot of you already since getting back, but I just wanted to tell all of you how I’m doing. Life at home hasn’t been that strange, crazy, or different than it was before. I think I made a deal with myself to just get back into the […]

Posted On

08/10/08

Author

john ceremsak

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As I write this email, you are probably all walking through the front door of your houses, back into a world offamiliar sights, sounds, and comforts. It is hard to believe what a whirlwind of a summer it was, with each of us experiencing so many new things, externally and internally. After I dropped you all off at the airport for the last leg of your journey, I spent the whole cab ride home marvelling atour experiences together, thinking about how each one of you grew so muchthroughout our travels.

We battled Delhi head-on just one day into the pogram, we did homestays in a village that had never hosted foreign visitors before, werocked the hardest trek in Ladakh for 16 days, and we experienced the front lines of the Tibetan freedom movement in Dharamsala. All in 6 weeks.....that is crazy! It is a compliment to all of you that we became stronger, closer, wiser, and more comfortable with India and each other as time progressed.

In case you are wondering, the rains haven't stopped in Delhi. In fact, I think they will be getting worse before theyget better towards theend of August. Ihave been quite lonelythe past few days, but it has been nice to havesome time to reminisce about our incredible times together.There are many things thatwe never got to b/c things just seemed to rushed at theend, so we will have to stay in touch.Teezy wheez - when will I get tohear your rap diddies?

I would really appreciate it if people could post a reflection on the Yak Yak when they have some time. I know I will be checking it frequently in the next few weeks to see how everyone is adjusting to life back home. If you are feeling challenged at points and miss the great life we all shared this summer, you probably aren't the only one, so let's really make an effort to keep reaching out to each other.

I wish you all the best of luck as we all jump back into our crazy lives. School, jobs, families, relationships - so much to think about and so much to do. When you are overwhelmed, just sit back and laugh at how recently you hikedfor 16 days in the Himalayas,stuffing yourself withbutter-honey-salt pan cackes and not even thinking aboutbathing b/c theglacial meltwater wasso unbearably cold.

Thanks to everyone for making this summer such a memorable experience for all,

cameron

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India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

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Missing You All in Delhi

Cameron Pittelkow,India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

Description

As I write this email, you are probably all walking through the front door of your houses, back into a world offamiliar sights, sounds, and comforts. It is hard to believe what a whirlwind of a summer it was, with each of us experiencing so many new things, externally and internally. After I dropped you […]

Posted On

08/8/08

Author

Cameron Pittelkow

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India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

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the last stretch

Jane Pfeffer,India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

Description

we are about to leave Dharamshala and are headed back to Delhi. this morning we were able to go and see the Dalai Lama speak which was amazing being able to see him in person but alittle tricky due to the fact we were all listening to the translation of the talk on a radio […]

Posted On

08/4/08

Author

Jane Pfeffer

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I can't believe we only have 2 more nights left here in India. I don't think any of us really can. Tonight we're leaving Dharamsala for Delhi on an overnight bus. Tomorrow morning we're getting in cabs and driving another 5 hours (on top of the 14 we covered that night) to Agra to see the Taj. Then its 5 hours back to Delhi for our last night. Wednesday we'll wrap the trip up and head to the airport for our long flights home. wow.

Dharamsala has been awesome, maybe my favorite stop on the entire trip. I think a lot of that has to do with strong Tibetan influence up here in McLeod Ganj (the home of the government-in-exile). It might be my teenage guy mindset, but before this trip and even during the first few weeks, I swore to myself I would never get political or feel super wrapped up by any controversial issue. I'd just rather not care. But, to be honest, my 4 days in D-sala have sort of changed that perspective. We've met with the organizers of Students for a Free Tibet, spoken with the organizer of the reception colony for newly arrived refugees, and participated in a few different protests. Last night we went to the preforming arts center and saw Tibetans preform a skit about the atrocities and watched a documentary about the 300+ who tried to march back to Tibet through India but were stopped. I think I might have found something I care about.

Earlier this morning, we went to a public teaching held by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. It was incredible. So many people just revere him. Yet he's just so quiet and gentle. Everyone was doing prostrations in front of him when he entered and I wondered how I could ever handle people doing prostrations in front of me. He spoke for a few hours about the 2 truths and the causes of suffering and the 2 meanings of happiness in Tibetan, translated via radio. When he took his break, he walked down back to his house. He passed right by us. He looked, smiled, laughed and shook hands. He's such a happy guy, I couldn't help but be happy myself.

3 days, that's all we have!

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India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

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3 Days Left?!

John Ceremsak,India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2008

Description

I can’t believe we only have 2 more nights left here in India. I don’t think any of us really can. Tonight we’re leaving Dharamsala for Delhi on an overnight bus. Tomorrow morning we’re getting in cabs and driving another 5 hours (on top of the 14 we covered that night) to Agra to see […]

Posted On

08/4/08

Author

John Ceremsak

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