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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008


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There's something about walking down a road by yourself that makes you really feel the sense of travel. The rain began last night with rolling thunder and continued all morning, purifying the earth for His Holiness' birthday today. The rain had just cleared, and as I was walking, I noticed that the rain had cleared the permanant fog, and for the first time I could see the tops of the mountains surrounding Dolma Ling Nunnery. Snow was nestled in the crags of rocks above the visible treeline and all seemed peacful and serence. Birds called in the distance, and the occasional child's laughter or "tashi delek!" from a passing Tibetan were all that broke the silence.

My thoughts wandered to the internet cafe's emails from my friends and family, of longing for home, of the scrape on my elbow from falling down the stairs, of how my laundry probably wasn't dry, all of material anchors to my life as I know it, a life which is struggling to hang on as this trip begins to seep into me and change me.

And then I was brought back to the discussion we had this morning, an echo of the discussions we've had as a group over the past week on Tibetan Buddhism, on the middle path, on impermanance. I couldn't help but see resemblances between our journey and Siddhartha's journey, as he stepped out of his priveleged palace walls for the first time. Though many tried to shield him from the pain and suffering he would see for the first time, he simply said, "No, I need to see this."

None of us will return from this trip the same as before. While I came on this trip hoping to deepen my knowledge of the political Tibet, I can already feel myself getting swept away by the spirituality of Tibetan culture and my adoration for Tibetan Buddhism.

One a week in, I am already calling into question not only my spirituality, but my lifestyle, my actions, and my future.

Molly

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Dharamsala

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

Description

There’s something about walking down a road by yourself that makes you really feel the sense of travel. The rain began last night with rolling thunder and continued all morning, purifying the earth for His Holiness’ birthday today. The rain had just cleared, and as I was walking, I noticed that the rain had cleared […]

Posted On

07/6/08

Author

Molly Dutton-Kelly

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I write on our last full day in Dharamsala, and while we are intrigued by the rain and fog, we are ready to move from the rain clouds into the rain shadow of the Himalaya. Tomorrow (Monday), we board a bus for Manali, where we will stay for one night before boarding another bus (Tuesday) for Kaza. Kaza, a large settlement in the Spiti Valley, is located approximately 20 kilometers down from our homestay village of Kiber. There, we will make our final preparations before beginning 8 days of homestay (Wednesday). During this time, expect to hear a little less from us; the village is somewhat remote and we will likely go to Kaza to communicate once every two days or so.

Our group is generally healthy, although we are all anticipating a long, gritty, sweaty day on the bus tomorrow! Today we rest and pack for the long journey into the high deserts of Spiti and Ladakh.

Max

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Update on Travel Plans

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

Description

I write on our last full day in Dharamsala, and while we are intrigued by the rain and fog, we are ready to move from the rain clouds into the rain shadow of the Himalaya. Tomorrow (Monday), we board a bus for Manali, where we will stay for one night before boarding another bus (Tuesday) […]

Posted On

07/6/08

Author

Max Woodfin

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    [post_content] => While other group mates wrote about visiting the Dalai Lama, this was only one of the amazing experiences that happened yesterday, and while it is something that I will always remember, I think palled in comparison to some of the other events of that day. In addition to seeing His Holiness, we also visited a Tibetan’s Children Village in Dharmasala. There we were offered a tour of the school, which houses roughly 1500 Tibetan Children, who crossed over from Tibet, and was able to see some of the work that they produced. The Tibetan students, learning both English and Tibetan wrote pieces which we saw on the wall, at a writing level far above that of a student in the United States talking about the Dangers of smoking. Seeing this work, and the students, was far beyond what I had expected, and hearing the administrators talk about the school, gave us all a great sense of hope for the future of Tibetan Education, as well as stunning us with how dedicated and how advanced the students were.As if this were not enough for the day, we had one more encounter that will stick in my mind. It was with the head of the Tibetan Nun Organization, who had worked with His Holiness the Dalai Lama for 8 years, and was now working on educating many of the Tibetan Nuns across the areas around Tibet. She talked for a long time about her work, and then answered many of our questions from a broad range of topics, from her current work, to the future of Tibet. She spoke very good English and inspired all of us with the information she gave with hope for the future, and a clearer vision of Tibet. One of the more important pieces of advice that she gave was: Don't take my word for it, go and see it for yourself.  

Through the meeting with the Dalai Lama, the visit to the TCV and then talking with the head of the Tibetan Nuns Organization, I for one had a Fourth of July I will never forget.

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Celebrating the Foruth of July without Fireworks

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

Description

While other group mates wrote about visiting the Dalai Lama, this was only one of the amazing experiences that happened yesterday, and while it is something that I will always remember, I think palled in comparison to some of the other events of that day. In addition to seeing His Holiness, we also visited a […]

Posted On

07/4/08

Author

Andrew Whalen

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It is now the second day of July and I am captivated by every aspect of life and nature that constitutes this beautiful ecosystem. I've put a great deal of time and energy into understanding the East and now that I am sitting here staring down and across this lush green valley, I am delighted to know that now is my time to encounter and experience what I feel so passionately about. It amazes me that I can find life forms that are distinctly foreign to me, for example snakes, monkeys, banana slugs, fehrets, odd little mushrooms and spiders the size of my hand yet also see bits of my native Pacific Northwest forest scattered throughout the valley below me in the form of countless number of pine trees. It's about 6 in the morning and I just heard a gong from inside the monastery at which we are lodging. The bangs start far apart and are gradually becoming more consistent. The sound meshes beautifully with wind instruments and the chirping of birds. My mind is drawn to my beloved family members that encouraged and supported me on my quest to experience and appreciate another part of the world. My deepest love and gratitude goes to each of you, should you be reading this. This is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Sincerely,

John Felice

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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July 2nd

John Felice,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

It is now the second day of July and I am captivated by every aspect of life and nature that constitutes this beautiful ecosystem. I’ve put a great deal of time and energy into understanding the East and now that I am sitting here staring down and across this lush green valley, I am delighted […]

Posted On

07/4/08

Author

John Felice

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    [post_content] => Yesterday the 4th of July, we had an amazing experience. This moment to some may be the highlight of this trip thus far. To this instant, we have been exploring bits of the Tibetan culture. Buddhism is the most prominent religion of Tibetans. The stars aligned yesterday and we were given the opportunity to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama (HHDL). This was a moment that some of us may refer to as a spiritual rebirth, possibly, the exploration of a part of our soul that we never connected with or maybe just an awesome feeling to see the head of the Buddhist faith standing before one’s eyes. For our meeting with HHDL, we prepared several questions that ranged from political issues to personal preferences. Upon arriving at Namgyal Monastery, we were thoroughly checked. Then we proceeded to a waiting room. The moment came where we finally saw HHDL. It was very brief, as we only were given the opportunity to shake hands and take a group photo, but it was enough to satisfy us all. Among other joyous moments on this trip, this was the one that brought about the biggest smile on all of our faces.
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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Fourth of July

Juan L.,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Yesterday the 4th of July, we had an amazing experience. This moment to some may be the highlight of this trip thus far. To this instant, we have been exploring bits of the Tibetan culture. Buddhism is the most prominent religion of Tibetans. The stars aligned yesterday and we were given the opportunity to meet […]

Posted On

07/4/08

Author

Juan L.

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Each night, we sit together as a group and read from our journals. The soundsof studentvoices fills a wood room or a forest clearing. In these times, we reflect on the events of the day and the depths of our emotions. From one journal, a modified haiku:

Beyond this glade

the rising mountain

beholds no traveller

Tomorrow, the students will likely share some very exciting news with you all, hopefully including photos. Stay tuned to our Yak Yak board for more details!

Max

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Modified Haiku

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

Description

Each night, we sit together as a group and read from our journals. The soundsof studentvoices fills a wood room or a forest clearing. In these times, we reflect on the events of the day and the depths of our emotions. From one journal, a modified haiku: Beyond this glade the rising mountain beholds no […]

Posted On

07/3/08

Author

Max Woodfin

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hello everyone.

so we started our journey 5 days ago..which is hard to believe. We arrived in Delhi to our Tibet Refugee camp, an oasis from the madness of Delhi. Our leaders assigned us a task of scavenger hunting. we discovered that chora and tsampa are hard to come by. next day, we started our day with a medetation to ground ourselves for the busy day that awaited us. we hopped on auto rickshaws, in the crazy filled streets with absolutley no traffic laws. delhi was overwhelming and we are extremely happy to be in the peace and clouds of dharamsala. we can't wait to buy the amazingly beautiful crafts and scarves...as well as stay in the monastary!!!!

We love you all so much!!!! And keep checking for further updates.

Peace,

Brieze and Jenny

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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hey from Dharamsala

Brieze Levy and Jenny Banner,Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

hello everyone. so we started our journey 5 days ago..which is hard to believe. We arrived in Delhi to our Tibet Refugee camp, an oasis from the madness of Delhi. Our leaders assigned us a task of scavenger hunting. we discovered that chora and tsampa are hard to come by. next day, we started our […]

Posted On

07/1/08

Author

Brieze Levy and Jenny Banner

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So, here we are at the internet cafe in Dharamsala after having a lovely meal of momos (for some of us), and soup (for those of us sick ones). We have finally arrived at what we expected the trip to be, we are in the clouds of the Himalayan foothills, staying in a monastery, and experiencing Tibetan culture. After the hectic Delhi streets it's marvelous to be surrounded by so much green and monks. In Delhi, we rode every kind of transportation imaginable, save an ox-drawn carriage, like bicylcle rickshaws, auto rickshaws, train, airplane, van, taxi, etc. 12 hours later, we have arrived via overnight train, jumped off at Phatankot, and started our ascent to Dharamsala.

The first thing that hits you in India is the ever-changing abundant smells! The business and sheer volume of people was extremely overwhelming, but exciting at the same time. We observed much sickness and poverty, as well as garbage fields. We were caught in a rainstorm on our way to the Mosque, the only refreshing break from the oppresive heat and humidity.

We spent the night ina walled in settlement of Tibetan refugees called Manju Ka Tilla, in surprising contrast to the streets of Delhi. Soon Manju Ka Tilla felt like a home as were welcomed by all the Tibetans, and observed in awe their serenity and quiet in such a crazy city.

We are now all in peace, with a much needed rest after Delhi and can't wait to explore Dharamsala. Our monastery has hot water, sinks for washing clothes, and we are all feeling clean and happy from our first showers of the trip.

We hope to post more later!

Love,

Tibet "Varsity" A

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Our fisrt 4 days

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

Description

So, here we are at the internet cafe in Dharamsala after having a lovely meal of momos (for some of us), and soup (for those of us sick ones). We have finally arrived at what we expected the trip to be, we are in the clouds of the Himalayan foothills, staying in a monastery, and […]

Posted On

07/1/08

Author

Molly Dutton-Kenny, Suzy Bertsche

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Notes from the Field:

So.. India doesn't use toilets. Ha. Just holes for squatting. About 1/6 of the world's population resides in India. There is trash on the streets. And the people are so happy! I haven't met someone yet who doesn't wave back and smile. This whole experience is unreal right now. Delhi is buzzing with energy all the time. My first word for India is ALIVE. There are not only people living on the streets but alsodogs, cows, goats, monkeys and sometimes elephants. There is a lot of trash.

We took a sleeper train last night. Triple bunks. Chai.

Now we're in Dharamsala and I'm looking forward to more lessons about religion. We've visited an annigompa or buddhist nunnery and now we're staying in a monastary.

We meditate every morning, and I'm looking forward to growing spiritually and expanding my mind.

Already I have surpassed my comfort zone and seen more beggars than I'd ever wish to admit. People ask for money all the time. Or food. Today we gave some leftovers to a family in Panthakot, and they seemed really grateful. I saw them eating it.

I don't know what lies ahead, but I will take a deep breath and "just keep swimming".

Lots of love from India!

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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INDIA!

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

Description

Notes from the Field: So.. India doesn’t use toilets. Ha. Just holes for squatting. About 1/6 of the world’s population resides in India. There is trash on the streets. And the people are so happy! I haven’t met someone yet who doesn’t wave back and smile. This whole experience is unreal right now. Delhi is […]

Posted On

07/1/08

Author

Ashley Babcock

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In one sentence: We fell into the capitol city late this morning, faced the heat that seathes through Delhi's open pores, and writhed our way through its vascular infrastructure until finally taking rest in Majnu Ka Tilla, or "Tibetan Refugee Colony" as the sign so aptly names it.

Although our flight was long, our group is functioning in extraordinary ways. As I write, all twelve students are out in the narrow alleyways of Majnu Ka Tilla, making friends with Tibetans and learning the first words of their new language. Sleep deprivation has not gotten in the way of our explorations, but we do hope to catch up tonight. Tomorrow night, we will depart on our train for the Himalayan foothills, arriving in the bustling town of Pathankot before winding our way up into Dharamsala.

For those of you who are wondering, we have a fabulous group of students who are constantly looking out for each other and their instructors. It feels good to be here.

Max

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Tibet Cultural, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Soaking in Delhi Soup

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

Description

In one sentence: We fell into the capitol city late this morning, faced the heat that seathes through Delhi’s open pores, and writhed our way through its vascular infrastructure until finally taking rest in Majnu Ka Tilla, or "Tibetan Refugee Colony" as the sign so aptly names it. Although our flight was long, our group […]

Posted On

06/29/08

Author

Max Woodfin

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