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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008


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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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    [post_content] => After trekking for ten days deep in the Himalayas, we have finally arrived in Leh, the capital of Ladakh. It is somewhat disorienting at first, having jumped right into a crowded world of cars, buildings, strangers, and a new culture. We have heard the loud roar of aircraft engines for the first time in four weeks. However, we are also enjoying comforts such as a warm bed, a shower, electricity, and the internet. What we first thought of as difficulties, we have transformed into strengths. As a group, we have transcended the barriers that would otherwise prevent achieving success. All in all, we are one step closer to becoming the global citizens we have sought to become. 
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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Back in civilization!! Kind of….

Juan Londono and Henry Joe,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

After trekking for ten days deep in the Himalayas, we have finally arrived in Leh, the capital of Ladakh. It is somewhat disorienting at first, having jumped right into a crowded world of cars, buildings, strangers, and a new culture. We have heard the loud roar of aircraft engines for the first time in four […]

Posted On

07/29/08

Author

Juan Londono and Henry Joe

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Dear families, friends, and yak-watchers:

I am pleased to convey the news that we have arrived safely in the town of Leh after many days in the Ladakhi backcountry. You are surely eager to hear about our long walk over Parang-la pass and across the high plains to Tsomoriri Lake, but I will give the students this honor. For now, know that we are happy and healthy...and slightly exhausted. We will be posting more yak-yaks tomorrow. Everyone asked me to send their love across the cyberspace.

Max

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Upon a cool night in the deserts of Ladakh

Max Woodfin,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Dear families, friends, and yak-watchers: I am pleased to convey the news that we have arrived safely in the town of Leh after many days in the Ladakhi backcountry. You are surely eager to hear about our long walk over Parang-la pass and across the high plains to Tsomoriri Lake, but I will give the […]

Posted On

07/28/08

Author

Max Woodfin

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Dear family and friends of Tibet A:

We are coming to the conclusion of our homestay in Kibber village, high above the Spiti Valley. This is an important transition in our program when we move from the social and cultural world of the western Himalaya to the high passes south of Ladakh.

Homestays are often the most challenging component of a Dragons program, so we will be debriefing fully before saddling up for the long walk north. In our numerous conversations with students, it is clear that while the past seven days have been challenging, they have also been introspective and eye-opening. As Lindsay noted yesterday, we have been herding yaks, weeding fields of barley, cooking japati and momos (great Tibetan/Himalayan foods that many students hope to make when they return to the States), and irrigating fields. Much of this is not just token work experience; some homestay families have commented to us that the students are hard workers. This says a lot, given how hard the families of Kibber work.

On the 18th of July, we will begin walking from Kibber village, ascending from our current elevation of 14,000+ feet (4,200 meters) into the high meadows of the Spiti range. Our highest point on this trek, Parang-la pass, will be approximately 19,000 feet (5,600 meters or so), from which we will descend to Tsomoriri, a vast lake just north of the Ladakhi/Himachali border. Locals have told us that this was the highest navigable pass in the British Empire. Whether or not this is true, the legend motivates us.

Although we have stated this more than once in the past few weeks, we would like to say it one more time: while we are trekking, we will not be able to post yak yaks or connect via email. You can expect our next direct posting to be on the 28th or 29th of July. By then, we will be resting in Leh, preparing for the final stage of our journey. Until then, "Juleh!" (Spitian for Hello!, Goodbye!, Thank you!, and See you soon!).

Max

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Until the end of the month

Max Woodfin,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Dear family and friends of Tibet A: We are coming to the conclusion of our homestay in Kibber village, high above the Spiti Valley. This is an important transition in our program when we move from the social and cultural world of the western Himalaya to the high passes south of Ladakh. Homestays are often […]

Posted On

07/16/08

Author

Max Woodfin

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Julley!!!!!

There is no internet in Kibber, but todayDebi and Ihave made short trip to Kaza to let you all know that we are having an amzing time!!!

All the the students are happy and healthy experincing traditonal living in the Spiti Valley! We have beenherding yaks in the high mountains, taking the goats, sheep and donkeys out to pasture, watering the fields of barley and peaswith amzingly intricate water canals, cooking traditonal Spiti food, milking cows, learning Spiti dance, drinking cup after cup of sweet milk teaand making friends! The Kibber communiy has been very welcoming to us.

Tomorrow we have a day hike up into the mountians to get ready for our trek! On the 17th we will all come together again and celebrate the end of our homestay and the beginging of our trek. One of our homestay sisters has planned a big dinner and Spiti dance party for us.

We have a very strong student group! Each students continues to impress and inspire us by delving into each experince whole heartedly with an open mind. Students continually learn from each other and take care of each other, allowing Max, Debi and I to easily facilitate an amazing adventure.

much love from the beautiful mountains!!!

Lindsay

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Julley from Kibber!!!

Lindsay Gilmour,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Julley!!!!! There is no internet in Kibber, but todayDebi and Ihave made short trip to Kaza to let you all know that we are having an amzing time!!! All the the students are happy and healthy experincing traditonal living in the Spiti Valley! We have beenherding yaks in the high mountains, taking the goats, sheep […]

Posted On

07/15/08

Author

Lindsay Gilmour

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At long last we are out of the hustle of big tourist cities. We arrived in Kaza day before yesterday but not without adventure that's for sure. The bus ride was amazing over one of India's highest passes the Rohtang Pass, more than 14,000 feet. Our students were fine, however one old Tibetan man was not faring so well. The students noticed he was having trouble breathing and made the bus driver stop. The Tibetans took him off the bus and we all attempted to help him best we could. The best thing that we did for him was flag down a passing car. Ashley and Henry took the reigns and got him in the car and down the mountain where we came from. We hope that he recovered well.

Several hours later the bus stopped again at a beautiful pass that was unfortunately blocked by a huge boulder in the road. The locals and other stranded vehicles were chipping away and pushing rocks out of the road. Our guys got right in there and helped the locals move things along. They were really excited to have been part of a solution and after 3 or 4 more hours the road was clear and we were on our way again!

Another 3 hours (this is meant to be a 6-8 hour trip total!) we got a flat tire. Our expert aviator Juan actually got off the bus because he wasn't feeling great but ended up over the moon spearheading the tire changing process. By the end of this bus ride our students were the superstars and belting out bad 70's tunes as we pulled into the fabulous mountain village of Kaza.

Since we arrived in pitch dark we had no idea what we were in for in the morning. Some of us slept on the roof of the guest house under a billion stars and awoke to the dramatic scenery of towering mountains and fanning alluvial plains. We are now on our way to our homestays in Kibber, a more remote village about 20km from Kaza. There is no internet or phone service there so we will be relying on the Dragons office to update you as we are able to send word and contact via SAT phone. We are at our homestays for 8 days then walking across India to the highest mountain lake of Tsomiriri. We are very excited for this portion! Everyone is in mostly good health (a few stomach issues) and speaking a little Tibetan and rearing to meet our new families.

We'll try to send some update when possible otherwise we will speak to you all from Ladakh towards the end of the month.

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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kanoodles in Kaza…

Debi Goldman,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

At long last we are out of the hustle of big tourist cities. We arrived in Kaza day before yesterday but not without adventure that’s for sure. The bus ride was amazing over one of India’s highest passes the Rohtang Pass, more than 14,000 feet. Our students were fine, however one old Tibetan man was […]

Posted On

07/10/08

Author

Debi Goldman

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Well, we have made it to Kaza, and after two nights in this tiny, dustyregional capital, we are heading up to our homestays in Kibber. At 14,000 feet, Kibber sits high on the flanks of the Spiti Mountains. Beneath the village, a roaringgorge lures glacial waters into the Spiti River, which sprawls across the deep Spiti Valley. There is no question; we are in Spiti, a high desert valley more remote than anywhere we have been on this course.

The village of Kibber is itself both rugged and homelike. As I walked to each homestay family yesterday, I observed the rhythms of daily life that await our students. Dust, goats, and butter tea; Mothers and babies and grandparents sitting in the dark, earthen kitchens; cold winds and then warm doldrums in the mid-afternoon. In just hours, we will be rocking slowly to these rhythms.

Expect communication from here until the 27th of Julyto be much thinner than before. Kibber has no internet, and we will only come to Kaza a few times during the homestay. We are holding on tight now. The best is yet to come!

Max

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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A breath of high air

Max Woodfin,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Well, we have made it to Kaza, and after two nights in this tiny, dustyregional capital, we are heading up to our homestays in Kibber. At 14,000 feet, Kibber sits high on the flanks of the Spiti Mountains. Beneath the village, a roaringgorge lures glacial waters into the Spiti River, which sprawls across the deep […]

Posted On

07/10/08

Author

Max Woodfin

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After a week of non-stop exploring, we had a couple breaths and time to study on our own. We each investigated topics that interested us.

(Ashley)

After getting a small taste of Tibetan traditional medicine earlier, John and I decided to further dive into the practice. We visited Men-Tsee-Khan institute (Medicine, Astrological House). We interviewed a scientist who explained to beginners the Tibetan calander and how animals and elements combine each year. Then we talked to a doctor who explained the origins and philosophy of Tibetan medicine. We both felt enlightened as we left the doctors office. Whereas Western medicine treats the ailment, Tibetan thought aims to prevent suffering by maintaining balance. It made so much sense. After, we caught a public bus back to Dolma Ling nunnery before we went to see the Karmapa Lama speak. Life is good in India as we begin to overcome our culture shock. Lots of love and thanks to all our supporters at home and abroad!

(Molly)

Suzy, Lark, Jenny and I walked down the road to Norbulinka Art Institute. It had beautiful grounds modelledafter the Dalai Lama's summer palace. The institute offered a wide range of classes in Tibetan Art, as well as a shop where the student sold their work, a thangka gallery, a miniture museum of Tibetan festvals, and a gompa (temple) with an 80-foot Buddha in it!We were all very encouraged to see the work and art of traditional Tibetan culture being encouraged and supported. The students were given a place to live, dignity and pride in their culture, people, and work. It was truly fantastic.

We are moving up into the mountains tomorrow, to start our homestays and may not be able to write for a bit. But we are all doing VERY WELL, and can't wait to see what else is in store for us.

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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notes from the field

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

Description

After a week of non-stop exploring, we had a couple breaths and time to study on our own. We each investigated topics that interested us. (Ashley) After getting a small taste of Tibetan traditional medicine earlier, John and I decided to further dive into the practice. We visited Men-Tsee-Khan institute (Medicine, Astrological House). We interviewed […]

Posted On

07/7/08

Author

Ashley Babcock and Molly Dutton-Kenny

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For the past few nights, we've been staying at the Dolma Ling Nunnery. It was really exciting to be there for His Holiness' birthday. Even though the celebrations were toned down due to the troubles in Tibet, as well as the fact that it's a black month, it was a lot of fun. It was cool seeing Debbi in her element, since she works so closely with the Tibetan Nuns Project and loves them so much.

Today was a crazy travel day. We left the Nunnery at 6:30 am to board the public bus to Manali. The crowded 10 hour bus ride was an experience to say the least. Max explained the difference between fun 'A' and fun 'B' to us, which assured us that the ride was fun 'B'. Fun 'A' is the type of fun that is immediately fun at the present time (you know, like eating ice-cream). Fun 'B' is pretty rough at the time, but when you look back, you're happy with the memories and the stories you have to share.

Now we're in Manali for the night, we just had an Indian dinner. We're soon off to bed because tomorrow we're waking up at 4:00 am for yet another fun 'B' public bus ride. But we can't wait to get up to the high altitude and start our home stay!!

Bedtime 8:00. Love to you all.

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Manali

Rachel Fiddelman and Lark Liedtke,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

For the past few nights, we’ve been staying at the Dolma Ling Nunnery. It was really exciting to be there for His Holiness’ birthday. Even though the celebrations were toned down due to the troubles in Tibet, as well as the fact that it’s a black month, it was a lot of fun. It was […]

Posted On

07/7/08

Author

Rachel Fiddelman and Lark Liedtke

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We have just arrived in Manali and finally have a second to sit down and write some thoughts.

As you may have read, we had a fantastic visit to Dharamsala. We had the very rare privilege of meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We also attended a public audience with His Holiness the Karmapa Lama (second most important figure/leader in Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture in exile). As well as stay at a monastery, a nunnery and see all the important sights of Tibet in diaspora. Our students are so mature and engaged! They are always eager to write and share and have bonded with each other so amazingly. We are learning so much through them and with them. Our hearts sing every night when we have our end of day meetings and see the (exhaustion) and joy on their faces and hear it in their writing.

We have been through the urban jungles of Delhi and the bustling streets of the village life in Dharamsala and are headed off for a new experience in the mountain village of Kibber. During our brief stop here in the tourist trap of Manali our group has expressed their excitement to leave the cities and head off into rural India. So much so that they didn't even complain when we told them we have to meet at 4:15am tomorrow to catch our bus to Kaza!

We as instructors are so delighted to be sharing this experience with your children, friends or if you guys are reading this YOU ALL!!!

Love,

Lindsay and Debi

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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We love our students!!

Debi Goldman & Lindsay Gilmour,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

We have just arrived in Manali and finally have a second to sit down and write some thoughts. As you may have read, we had a fantastic visit to Dharamsala. We had the very rare privilege of meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We also attended a public audience with His Holiness the Karmapa Lama […]

Posted On

07/7/08

Author

Debi Goldman & Lindsay Gilmour

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