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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008


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It's unbelievable, where are you group? How did I get here?.. I was just in India. I blinked my eyes, slept, woke, slept, ate, and here I am now. It's been a long time now. I am feeling lost still. Every now and then my wrecklessness leads me astray. I think about you. Our tightknit group is dispersed across the country and continents even. I know you all are succeeding in unimaginable ways. Of course, we are all going through hardships as well. As long as we just "point ourselves in the right direction, all we have to do is keep walking".

Email contract has inevitably died out, and I feel lost. Sometimes while in India I was fighting it, and then I settled, just to return home right after. College is a lot a work, as you all are figuring out too. Socially, academically, athletically. I just write to keep in contact. I feel closer to God this way.

We all shared and undescribable experience that no one can take away, regardless of the implications. Thanks for being so great.

Ashley

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Life Goes On

Ashley Babcock,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

It’s unbelievable, where are you group? How did I get here?.. I was just in India. I blinked my eyes, slept, woke, slept, ate, and here I am now. It’s been a long time now. I am feeling lost still. Every now and then my wrecklessness leads me astray. I think about you. Our tightknit […]

Posted On

10/23/08

Author

Ashley Babcock

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Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons' "Tibet: Cultural Odyssey" summer program. 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 Los Angeles; prepare for flight to Lhasa with a layover in Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan Province. Arrive Lhasa: Visit sacred Tibetan monuments such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s former home, the Potala Palace, the 7th Century Jokhang Temple, and Sera and Drepung Monasteries; join pilgrims in the morning as they walk along the Barkhor circuit; meet with traditional Tibetan healers at the Lhasa Mentsekhang; meet with aid groups and scholars from Tibet University; begin in-depth language and Buddhist studies, and mentored independent studies.


Weeks Two-Three:
Travel north to the sacred Lake Namtso: Camp along the shore at over 4,700 meters in elevation and marvel at the surrounding mountainscape; explore nearby hermitage and nomadic communities. Continue on to the Terdrom Valley: Camp above the Terdrom Nunnery, soak in medicinal hot springs, and prepare for challenging 3 to 4-day trek to Drigung. Spend a day at Drigung exploring the monastery, listening in on traditional prayer ceremonies, visiting the nearby sky burial site, and discussing the Tibetan worldview of impermanence. Return to Lhasa to continue with independent studies.

Week Four:
Travel to Ganden Monastery: Hike traditional pilgrimage route encircling the monastery and explore one of Tibet’s greatest Buddhist universities; prepare for breathtaking 5-day trek to Samye Monastery (if permitted). Arrive Samye: Set up camp; learn about Tibet’s first Buddhist monastery; explore nearby meditation retreat caves Drakyul and Chimpu. Return to Lhasa for flight to Xining, the capital of China’s Qinghai Province—our gateway to the historic Tibetan border provinces of Amdo and Kham.

Week Five:
Rugged overland travel by public bus into the region of Amdo: Camp at traditional Tibetan horse festival; visit remote monasteries and learn about the various sects of Tibetan Buddhism. Travel south into China’s Sichuan Province (Tibetan Kham): Stay on the grounds of the Shechen Charity Orphan School or live with monks or elderly mothers at the nearby Shechen Monastery; learn about pressing development issues in this remote area and engage with the local community in service efforts; enjoy meetings with local religious leaders and an in-depth exploration of Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan political situation; explore nearby mountains and glacial lakes on day hikes.

Week Six:
Travel from Shechen to Karze, a lively Tibetan market town: Explore the impressive Karze Monastery and shop for traditional Tibetan crafts; present on Independent Study Projects. Embark on our last public bus ride, a 12-14 hour trip descending from the Tibetan Plateau to the Chinese city of Chengdu: Celebrate the end of ourmighty journey and prepare for our return flight to the U.S.

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Tibet Cultural: Sample Itinerary

Dragons Administration,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons’ "Tibet: Cultural Odyssey" summer program. 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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Dear Parents,

Please find return flight information for the China B group below:

August 8th, 2008
Cathay Pacific Flight # CX 884
Depart: Hong Kong (HKG) 1:20pm
Arrive: Los Angeles (LAX) 11:25am

If you would like to inquire into a flight's departure or arrival status, please be in touch with the airline directly.

Thank you all for a wonderful summer!

Dragons Admin

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Return Flight Information

Dragons Admin,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Dear Parents, Please find return flight information for the China B group below: August 8th, 2008Cathay Pacific Flight # CX 884Depart: Hong Kong (HKG) 1:20pmArrive: Los Angeles (LAX) 11:25am If you would like to inquire into a flight’s departure or arrival status, please be in touch with the airline directly. Thank you all for a […]

Posted On

08/7/08

Author

Dragons Admin

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Hello all.

Since my family is, in fact, reading the yak board, I thought I'd share a little more.

While in Leh we've had the opportunity to have an audience with an oracle. Oracles are, in the Tibetan culture, a way for spirits to communicatewith the human world throught the medium of an individual. The oracle's human highway is an ordinary lady, in our case, who goes into a trance around eleven every morning, andharnesses the spirit. We actually saw four at once. The spirits were talking to each other.In the west, these individuals have been diagnosed with skizophrenia, and when we spoke with her the next day, she said that if she does not open herself to the spirits, then she gets really sick and acts unhealthily.

When she first had her first "fit", she went to talk with a high lama in order for him to decide whether she was possessed by a demon, or whether she had been chosen by the spirit. Side note: the Dalai Lama was advised to leave Tibet by his oracle. I think it is an honor to be chosen by a spirit. It can also be genetic.

So, just for fun, after the oracle lady had said her puja (prayers) and screamed and thrown rice everywhere, I decided to ask her a question. I asked why my stomache was sick. She gave me an accurate yet generic answer that worked for me. Then she wanted to get the bad energy and poisons out. It was completley bazaar. She actually sucked my stomach and spit out blood and some chunk that looked like tar. There was no wound on my stomach. I, nor she, has any idea what those substances she spit out were. I was squirming and really uncomfortable.

Regardless of how strange and foreign the culture is here, I'm really enjoying it nonetheless. I'm nervous to come home (I think I said that already).

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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An oracle

Ashley Babcock,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Hello all. Since my family is, in fact, reading the yak board, I thought I’d share a little more. While in Leh we’ve had the opportunity to have an audience with an oracle. Oracles are, in the Tibetan culture, a way for spirits to communicatewith the human world throught the medium of an individual. The […]

Posted On

08/4/08

Author

Ashley Babcock

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After agreeing to post a final yakyak, I realized I had no idea what I wanted to say! So after wandering around the touristy downtown areas of Leh, to arrive here at my favorite internet cafe, I decided to post on my two favorite Leh places.

These places are besides Leh Palace and besides the beautiful Mosques and besides our heavenly guest house that streams in the most soothing morning light past green curtains and wide windows.

I think the group would agree that besides all these majestic and beautiful things Leh has to offer, there are two simple places I have (we have) come to depend on. And those would of course be Dzomsa and the German Bakeries.

Dzomsa is an amazing place, something straight out of Berkeley, CA! In an effort to reduce plastic waste in a city with no trash (let alone recycling!) infrastructure, and recognizing that tourists can not drink the water and therefore buy ridiculous amounts of water bottles at Rs20 apeice, Dzomsa was born. You can take your Nalgenes/Klean Kanteens/Siggs there, to refill them with filtered water at Rs7 per liter. You can also "rent" refillable water botles from them, bring plastic water bottles to recycle there (though I don't know how they recycle), bring batteries to recycle there, buy local juice, buy organic healthy bars, take laundry to be done outside of town so as not to pollute the streams, etc. etc. On average I stop by twice a day. It has a great vibe too, and tables to take a much-needed rest.

The German Bakeries are an indescribably comforting delicious taste of home. They seem to be everywhere. With the money that you've saved on water by refilling at Dzomsa, you can buy a chocolate dounut (ridiculously delicious), an apple strudel (to die for!), or any assortment of rolls, cookies, cakes, pies. At first we tried to be "in" the culture, and avoid western food, but the smell of nutella donuts wafting into the internet cafe proved too much! Yesterday I got an apple strudel. Today I might get a wheat roll, if the chocolate donuts are out of course.

Tomorrow morning we get on an early flight to Delhi, where we're staying for two days before flying home. See you soon!

Love, Molly

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Dzomsa and The German Bakeries

Molly Dutton-Kenny,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

After agreeing to post a final yakyak, I realized I had no idea what I wanted to say! So after wandering around the touristy downtown areas of Leh, to arrive here at my favorite internet cafe, I decided to post on my two favorite Leh places. These places are besides Leh Palace and besides the […]

Posted On

08/4/08

Author

Molly Dutton-Kenny

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Leh is amazing and is in some ways much more amazing when facing it alone, as we have been doing the past couple of days, rather then as a group. I spent today walking and traveling for the most part to a Buddhist meditation center, the Mahabohdi Center, to interview people there for my ISP. The travel that we did that day was by far the most interesting portion of it, between yelling at people for the bus and getting squished as we stopped frequently, but also walking to the center I passed through much of Choglamsar.
The Mahabodicenter was something very worth while to have gone to. The people there were nice, and very generous with their time and information, although it made me realize that I might need to look elsewhere for different types of pilgrims who come to Leh, the focus of my ISP. Overall I spent more time in transit then doing anything else, but since I picked up lunch early and ate while I walked it ended out working out time wise, with some time left over to plan out what I'm doing the next day, which will most lokley include a vist to some of the large monasteries around Leh.
Being able to travel around a large city, and the freedom to act as a local would act, eat their food, but not drink their water, and see the city in all it's glory, instead of just the glory presented at store fronts or on the main road, has made the experience here in Leh unique and very beneficial.
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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Leh

Andrew Whalen,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Leh is amazing and is in some ways much more amazing when facing it alone, as we have been doing the past couple of days, rather then as a group. I spent today walking and traveling for the most part to a Buddhist meditation center, the Mahabohdi Center, to interview people there for my ISP. […]

Posted On

08/4/08

Author

Andrew Whalen

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Wow. We don't even know where to begin.

After almost 20 days out of contact, including a week long homestay and a 10 day trek, we have arrived in Leh, back into "civilization". We use that word lightly. Leh is nothing compared to Delhi, and nothing compared to our hometowns of Oakland, CA, and Spokane, WA, but there is internet, so I suppose we would call this "civilization". But what does that even mean? It seems to mean beggars and trash and pollution and cars. And it also sems to mean Gompas and Mosques, Guest Houses, trees, friends, clean water, palaces, beauty, and of course, contact with home.

And this is all in such great contrast to the feeling of waking up at Lake Tso moriri at 6:40 in the morning to crawl out of our tents to see the most beautiful sights imaginable, yaks and nomads beginning their day on the lake, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Our bodies sore and bruised from heavy backpacks, just staring out in awe and wondering how we got so lucky to behold such majesty, such un-touchable alpine beauty.

We are holed up now in an internet cafe, our scavenger hunt put on hold while the entire city of Leh shuts down for two hours. This city is miraculous to us, stumbling out of the wilderness, with welcome showers and beds.

And yet, we're still contemplating how we feel about this, this "civilization", and what that really means to us.

More musings later......

Molly and John

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Thoughts on returning to “Civilization”

Molly Dutton-Kenny, John Felice,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Wow. We don’t even know where to begin. After almost 20 days out of contact, including a week long homestay and a 10 day trek, we have arrived in Leh, back into "civilization". We use that word lightly. Leh is nothing compared to Delhi, and nothing compared to our hometowns of Oakland, CA, and Spokane, […]

Posted On

07/29/08

Author

Molly Dutton-Kenny, John Felice

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Hello from Leh India, after a ten day trek many of us are happy and ready to experience civilization again. The weather is bright and sunny as we discover a new village in India, we are thrilled by our relatively posh accomodations in our guest house. Although the trip is coming to its end, we still have many more experiences to enjoy and stories to begin in this wonderful adventure of Tibetan culture, we will be sad to leave, but we will have the cherished memories to take home and share with our freinds and family.

Jenny & George

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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LEH

George Williams,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Hello from Leh India, after a ten day trek many of us are happy and ready to experience civilization again. The weather is bright and sunny as we discover a new village in India, we are thrilled by our relatively posh accomodations in our guest house. Although the trip is coming to its end, we […]

Posted On

07/29/08

Author

George Williams

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We've been out of commission for over 18 days.

Journal entry: July 27, 2008

Tso Moriri

The mountains here are powerful and mysterious. It is not just the mountains. The whole landscape is awe-inspiring and impressive. It scares me to see people again after the trek. I feel like a misanthrop, as I long for the seclusion of the mountains and the freedom of a trail. I'd gladly hike back to Kibber. If only. If only I didn't have life waiting at home. Mom, Dad, sister, dog. CU ski team. I've enjoyed this freedom I've been allowed. This trip was a gift. I wanted to leave some baggage behind. I think I have. I am alive here in this foreign place. Of course I prefer my everyday comforts, such as running water and toilet paper, however, now I know that others live, they can live, even if not like me. I've overcome obstacles and challenges I never could have imagined. I'm glad to not have come with any expectations. While I should have known struggles were ahead, it would have made no difference. Having a good attitude saved me and continually being out of my comfort zone brought me to new heights.

We just finished a homestay and trek. We are now in tourist-infested Leh. We are remaining travelers the best we can. I'm nervous for coming home.

Cheers.

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Aniche

Ashley Babcock,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

We’ve been out of commission for over 18 days. Journal entry: July 27, 2008 Tso Moriri The mountains here are powerful and mysterious. It is not just the mountains. The whole landscape is awe-inspiring and impressive. It scares me to see people again after the trek. I feel like a misanthrop, as I long for […]

Posted On

07/29/08

Author

Ashley Babcock

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My homestay in Kibber was a stew of emotions ranging from happiness to awkerdness to isolation to comfortness.

My happiest memories of Kibber were the times spent with my homestay sister, Tenzin Zomkit. We would wander the hils while she taught me the Spiti names for the plants and while I taught her my family's names. She would point at a purple flower and I would say "polo mendo", then she would recitre, "Mother's name Anne, father's name Jon, brother's name...Mike, dog's name Nina". We would also play tag around the gompa, have thumb wars, sing Spiti and American songs and in the end we even devoped a nonverbal language for when I was supoosed to filp the chapati or rinse the dishes.

Along with the good times came occasions of extreme akwerdness. One memory that is quite vivd is when after the first dinner with my family I was asked if I needed the toilet. I nodded and was led by my sistyer and her aunt to a hole in the ground. I said thank you and smiled, they smiled, and I waited for them to leave. When they stayed in the room and continued to smile, I took a deep beath and then went to the bathroom not more than three feet away from people I had known less than a day.

During my homestay I often felt isolated, as if I was in a cultural prsion. I would sit in the kitchen while my family talked and talked and occasionally looked at me or when I would sit in the fields with the women and they would talk about and laugh at me. This isolation was uncomfortae but was only one of the many emotions I felt while I was submersed in Kibber life.

While I will always remeber the fun I had with my sister, the awkerd bathroom etiqutte, and the feelings of isolation the memory that I will always cherish from my homestay is when I felt that I had found family in the Himalayas.

On the third day after meeting with my group I walked into the kitchen of my home. I was greeted with smiles from my whole family and then they pulled up my cushion to the stove and handed me the tongs to flip the chapati. As I sat flipping the chapati I was overwhlemed with a sense of peace amd belonging. I came to see that I had found a home and a family away from my own in Montana. Discovering this comfort reaffimed how much I cherish and love my family and freinds in Missoula. My Kibber family demonstrated to me the vital importance of family and how though there are many differences between myself and my family that a sense of belongong and family is universal and acheivable even in a small village in northern India.

Love to my MT and Kibber famalies,

Suzy B

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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A Family Found in Kibber

Suzy Bertsche,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

My homestay in Kibber was a stew of emotions ranging from happiness to awkerdness to isolation to comfortness. My happiest memories of Kibber were the times spent with my homestay sister, Tenzin Zomkit. We would wander the hils while she taught me the Spiti names for the plants and while I taught her my family’s […]

Posted On

07/29/08

Author

Suzy Bertsche

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