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    [post_date] => 2010-06-21 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => Hello everyone,



After a long Jeep ride over dusty roads and through some stark
mountain ranges, we have arrived safely back in Leh. The group is
showering and heading into town to order some comfort food that they
have been missing these past four days in Domkhar village. Our stay
there was incredible, to say the least. The Dragons instructors, who
have spent time in many different Ladakhi villages over the years, all
agree that Domkhar is one of the most beautiful villages they have
been. Lower Domkhar lies next to a clear river lined with pencil-like
poplar trees, fragrant pink desert roses, and patchworked levels of
bright green fields of barley. Fort-like grand houses are whitewashed
with masterfully carved wiiden window- and door-frames and are a stark
contrast to the dry brown mountains rising up from their backyards.
While in the village, we had an opportunity to do several service
projects at the local government high school, and to join families in
daily activities such as cooking, farming, and sipping cup after cup
of butter tea! Our service work consisted of painting environmental
slogans around the school yard and along the road, taking over as
teachers for math, english, and science classes, assisting in the
computer lab, and (not so much service as FUN) playing many games of
handball and volleyball with the school-kids! We think our village
stay was a total success and all the instructors are proud of how the
Choate students integrated into the community and gained a tremendous
amount from the experience. It is natural to be nervous entering a
homestay with a family who does not speak much english, in a
completely foriegn place, and our students met this challenge with
grace and left Domkhar as family. [post_title] => Back from the village, headed on trek [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => back-from-the-village-headed-on-trek [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2010-06-21 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2010-06-21 06:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=48082 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 392 [name] => Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010 [slug] => choate-custom-india-summer-2010 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 392 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 250 [count] => 8 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 21.1 [cat_ID] => 392 [category_count] => 8 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010 [category_nicename] => choate-custom-india-summer-2010 [category_parent] => 250 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2010/choate-custom-india-summer-2010/ ) ) [category_links] => Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010 )

Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

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Back from the village, headed on trek

Instructor Team,Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

Description

Hello everyone, After a long Jeep ride over dusty roads and through some starkmountain ranges, we have arrived safely back in Leh. The group isshowering and heading into town to order some comfort food that theyhave been missing these past four days in Domkhar village. Our staythere was incredible, to say the least. The Dragons […]

Posted On

06/21/10

Author

Instructor Team

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We have all safely arrived in Leh and are settled in atDorje Guest House. After a mostly sleepless night between the group's arrival in Delhi and our early departure for Leh, we spent our first day in Leh resting, sleeping and acclimatizing. Yesterday we headed down the valley to Choglamsar to visit a Lhamo, a traditional faith healer. Ladakh is well known for its Lhamos and people travel great distances to see them. It was a fascinating experience which combined elements of Tibetan Buddhism with shamanic practices and what we found to be inexplicable displays of apparent miracles as the Lhamo sucked black tar-like substances from people (including a few from our group) without breaking the skin. We then went to Thiksay monastery, the seat of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh, and marveled at the ancient frescoes and statuary as well as the expansive views over the Indus valley from the rooftop.

Todaywe had a scavenger hunt which gaveeveryone a chance to explore Leh and its people in small groups, and thenwatched a film whichdepictstraditional life in Ladakh and howLadakhis are responding to modernity. The film raises many of the issues which will emerge during our homestay which we leave for tomorrow.

We will depart in the morning for Domkhar village, 118 km west of Leh, where we will stay for 4 days. We will not have internet access during that time, and only limited access to phones. On the way we will stop at Basgo and Alchi monasteries, before arriving to meet our new host families. We will be back in Leh on the evening of the 19th and then will leave for our trek.

All is well and everyone is enjoying discovering this magical place. We will be in touch again as soon as we are able.

Julay!

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Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

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An update from Leh, Ladakh

Instructors,Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

Description

We have all safely arrived in Leh and are settled in atDorje Guest House. After a mostly sleepless night between the group’s arrival in Delhi and our early departure for Leh, we spent our first day in Leh resting, sleeping and acclimatizing. Yesterday we headed down the valley to Choglamsar to visit a Lhamo, a […]

Posted On

06/14/10

Author

Instructors

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    [post_content] => Here is a photo from Oda, Johann, and Charlotte shaking hands with a local man at the Polo ground. Thanks to our wonderful helper, Maggie!
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Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

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Scavenger Hunt

Johann, Charlotte, Oda,Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

Description

Here is a photo from Oda, Johann, and Charlotte shaking hands with a local man at the Polo ground. Thanks to our wonderful helper, Maggie!

Posted On

06/14/10

Author

Johann, Charlotte, Oda

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2010-06-11 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Dear Family and Friends,

The group has landed in Delhi, made it through customs, and are with Adrian and Kristin as I write!!!

They are heading to a hotel for a night of rest, and will then fly out early tomorrow morning for Leh! We should hear from them once they've landed and settled in a bit.

Regards,

Reed Harwood

WTBD Administrator

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Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

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Landed in Delhi!!!!

Reed Harwood,Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

Description

Dear Family and Friends, The group has landed in Delhi, made it through customs, and are with Adrian and Kristin as I write!!! They are heading to a hotel for a night of rest, and will then fly out early tomorrow morning for Leh! We should hear from them once they’ve landed and settled in […]

Posted On

06/11/10

Author

Reed Harwood

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    [post_content] =>     

Namaste!

By the time you read this you will have already taken your first steps of discovery, made your journey from America to India and joined up with my co-instructors Kristin and Adrian. My apologies for the lateness of this introduction, but I am currently in the mountains of NE India leading a course for NOLS and thus will be joining you a little late.

I can’t say I’m not sad that the course has been rerouted from Nepal to Ladakh, as I was excited to share my country and culture with you, but India is an amazing country and the experiences and adventures we will have, will no doubt impact on you for the rest of your lives.

To leave behind the comfortable and familiar to face something unknown takes courage - you have my utmost respect for taking that step. I can still remember the fizz of excitement alongside the dread of the unknown the first time I headed west. Will the people be welcoming? Will I like the food? Will I find my way around? How different is the culture? Just some of the questions buzzing around my head, but I found, as I hope you will, that an open mind and heart can lead to the start of an adventure that has the ability to last a lifetime. And yes, my first experience of full-on western culture left me yearning for more adventures, both at home and abroad.

As my desire to spread my wings, experience different cultures and wide open spaces became more urgent I headed off to the USA to see just how it did mountains and wilderness. I shall never forget the first bear I saw, the majesty of the elk migration, and the shear size of the American great outdoors. But a large part of my heart always stayed back in the Himalayas, and this is why I am so thrilled and honoured to be given the opportunity to introduce you to a snapshot of the culture and majesty within this amazing region, to travel with you on your journey of exploration and to see the same wonder in your eyes that still looks back at me as I continue on my quest for adventure, learning and greater understanding.

Enjoy the first few days of your journey and I look forward to meeting up with you all in Leh on the 16th June.

Take care, be excited and see you all very soon!

Amrit Ale

aleamrit@gmail.com

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Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

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Instructor Intro

Amrit Ale,Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

Description

Namaste! By the time you read this you will have already taken your first steps of discovery, made your journey from America to India and joined up with my co-instructors Kristin and Adrian. My apologies for the lateness of this introduction, but I am currently in the mountains of NE India leading a course for […]

Posted On

06/11/10

Author

Amrit Ale

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    [post_date] => 2010-06-08 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Julay Everyone!

We look forward to meeting you all soon!

You may want to consider bringing a small gift for your homestay family. Anything "American" would be enjoyed by your families, a picture book or calendar of where you are from, or anything else really that comes to mind. You will also have the opportunity to buy something in India so don't worry if it is too much to manage as you prepare to leave. Gifts from the U.S. would be more treasured, but it is mostly just the gesture that counts, and we will make sure you have something on hand when we drive out to Domkhar to meet our host families.

Also, bringing photos of your friends and family is a great way to break the ice with your host family.

We look forward to seeing you soon in Delhi airport. Safe Travels!!!

Julay!

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Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

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Gifts for Homestay families

Instructors,Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

Description

Julay Everyone! We look forward to meeting you all soon! You may want to consider bringing a small gift for your homestay family. Anything "American" would be enjoyed by your families, a picture book or calendar of where you are from, or anything else really that comes to mind. You will also have the opportunity […]

Posted On

06/8/10

Author

Instructors

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    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2010-05-30 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Greetings Everyone!

As you all know, we will be flying to Ladakh from Delhi. We will be at elevations above 11,000ft (over 16,000ft on our trek) and while we will be careful to acclimatize as much as possible, we fly directly in to Leh at over 11,000ft. You may want to consider speaking to adoctor about bringing the prescription medicine Diamox, which helps with the acclimatization process. We will be carrying Diamox but cannot administer it without a prescription. If you are able to obtain a prescription before you leave, you will have the option to take Diamox should you want to.

As may have been communicated to you already, you may also like to bring non prescription preventative medicines, such as:

-Anti-bacterial gel to keep your hands clean
-Vitamin C and Echinacea to fight off colds

-Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)- which acts like a natural anti biotic (nutribiotic)
-Multi-vitamins
-Perfect Food (a super food powder)
-Spirulina
-Energy bars

- Due to Ladakh’s elevation, vegetables are limited and you may want to consider bringing some of the following, or anything else which helps promote a healthy immune system or works as a dietary supplement

Also, don’t forget to bring warm clothing!

We look forward to meeting you all soon!

Julay!

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Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

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Altitude and medicine

Instructors,Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

Description

Greetings Everyone! As you all know, we will be flying to Ladakh from Delhi. We will be at elevations above 11,000ft (over 16,000ft on our trek) and while we will be careful to acclimatize as much as possible, we fly directly in to Leh at over 11,000ft. You may want to consider speaking to adoctor […]

Posted On

05/30/10

Author

Instructors

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    [post_date] => 2010-05-28 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Welcome! Jullay! This is the beginning of an extraordinary unfolding together, and I so look forward to meeting you all in about 2 weeks!

I just returned last night to warmer climes after spending the last month up in Ladakh with Dragons. Although I just emerged chapped and sunburnt and am still thawing out from the unusually low temperatures for this season, I am itching to get back up onto the geographic Tibetan plateau with all of you! I imagine the weather will actually shift quite dramatically in the next few weeks and Ladakh will be more climatically hospitable, but as they say, if you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes. When the sun goes behind the clouds, get out your down jackets, but when it's out, you'll be wishing you could actually shed layers of skin!

I was quite pleased when a flurry of e-mails were sent a few weeks ago informing me of our re-routing to India. Although Nepal is a place close to my heart and I know Amrit had organized an awesome itinerary there for us, the dramatic peaks of Ladakh speak to my spirit and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to spend more time up there this summer. Adrian, Amrit, and I all have spent extensive time up in that western corner of the Himalayas, and we are excited to share our passion and perspectives with you. We are still working out the kinks to put together our last-minute itinerary, but know that we have some serious treats in store for you! With Adrian and the whole Dragons office in the States, and me still in India, we are literally working round-the-clock to get final arrangements made so that everything will run smoothly upon your arrival.

In anticipation of that arrival, I’ve been reflecting on my first trip to this part of the world, 11 years ago. Nothing can quite prepare you for the sensory overload you will likely experience, for the seeming paradoxes existant in any one scene, for the simultaneous levels of response that you'll have. I'm not going to fill your head with too many expectations, but wanted to shed some (abridged) light on Ladakh as a unique geographical area with a profoundly rich heritage and fascinating evolving culture. Ladakh's name itself means "land of high passes." It rests at a significant physical crossroads between the so-called "east" and "west," made famous by the ancient Silk Road. It shares sensitive political borders with China, Tibet, and Pakistan. It became a melting pot of goods, ideas, languages, and traditions that we can still see the remnants of today. Of the many products exported throughout India, China, and the Persian empire from this harsh land were ponies, apricots, pasm (the wool used to make the famous Kashmiri Pashmina/cashmere shawls), and salt from neighboring areas in western Tibet. It became an important cultural center, embracing the Muslim and Buddhist faiths of the traders who settled there, and influenced by Tibetan, Indian, Arabic, and Persian arts. Despite being a very harsh localle of altitudes starting at 11,000 ft, extreme temperatures and seemingly infertile sands, the Ladakhis developed an advanced irrigation system allowing them to live and sustain themselves in some of the most difficult landscapes on earth. Although Ladakh shares a common religious and cultural heritage with Tibetans, and were often alied with Central Tibet throughout the ages, Ladakh has is a unique culture and language of it's own. Finally, though some romantically call Ladakh the "Last Shangri-la" and "Little Tibet," and though there are many relics of the past that make it seem like you're traveling back in time, remember that this is a developing land with an evolving culture influenced now, as it has been throughout the ages, by it's recent exposure to the "modern" world. You will soon see it yourself, and we will discuss all of this later, but until then, please go check out a map and locate this incredible land of shifting sandunes and sharp mountaneous pinnacles, of deep red canyons and green settled oases'.

In an effort to give you a taste of what adventures you're in for, I'll describe a bit about our (still evolving) itinerary: from our descent into the wilds of metropolitan Delhi to our ascent into Leh, Ladakh, we will fly over some spectacular territory, and then begin winding our way through narrow bazaars ripe and wafting with piquant smells of spices tickling our nostrils, and through some gnarly mountain ranges and rugged villages perched precariously on mountain edges. We will spend some time acclimatizing to our new altitude and exploring the capital, Leh, and then head west for homestays and our service project (still in the works - we will inform you as soon as we have more info). We will conclude our program with a 5 day trek through soe of the most dramatic ranges you'll ever see! And then, a short flight back to Delhi and onwards...You're in for a wild ride!

And so, from the outer to the inner, I suppose I should tell you a little bit about myself. I was in your similar shoes about 11 years ago when I felt the mighty Himalaya calling my name for reasons then unknown and still unfolding. I was about your age, and found Where There Be Dragons through a fluke internet search. I chose to travel to Nepal and Tibet that summer (1999) when I was 16, and haven’t felt the extinguishment of the call to Asia since – in fact, it continues to grow with each successive journey back. I returned to the Himalayas in 2001 between high school and college with Dragons’ Tibetan Studies Semester. It was on that program that I discovered the Tibetan art of Thangka painting (Buddhist ritual painting of various deities and meditational scapes) as my ISP project, and have been continuing my study ever since.

I went to art school after my return which I enjoyed immensely, but soon discovered that I was given the incredibly gift of studying various forms of expression, but I lacked much of meaning to express. A year and a half into art school, I transferred to Naropa University where I completed my B.A. in Religious Studies with a concentration in Tibetan Buddhism. Studying Buddhism in this western setting was illuminating and a necessary accompaniment to my studies while in the very heart of it in Tibetan areas in the Himalayas. Above all, my experience at Naropa convinced me that a contemplative approach to study and life was of paramount importance to me in order to uncover those deeper truths that I always sought above all else. I learned the importance of taking responsibility for my reactions to the world rather than respond with aggression or apathy. Each moment offers us infinite opportunities to grow as compassionate beings part of the great human family. It also offers us choice, and thus total independence – the opportunity to not be victim to the storms and gales that the world throws at us, but rather respond with grace and thus transform the whole situation.

After completing University, I have dedicated the years until now to “experiments in truth” as Gandhi coined, primarily with the backdrops of Asia midwifing these explorations of inner and outer dimensions. My travels have taken me through much of Southeast Asia and the Himalayas: practicing the intricate art of Thangka painting in Kathmandu, trekking to remote meditation caves of Tibetan masters in Nepal and Tibet, riding the rails in India while sipping small cups of steaming chai, wandering through cloud forests that end in white mist and always a welcoming village to lay my head in the evening – belly full of dal bhat (Nepali rice and lentils), volunteering after the 2004 tsunami in Thailand building boats for fishermen who lost them, exploring the jungles and rivers and rice paddies of Laos, being dwarfed by the majestic Angkor ruins in Cambodia, attempting to build a wooden schooner in Thailand with some friends with the dream of sailing around the world (hasn’t happened yet!), living in a Chinese city to check out what in the world is going on in that very complex country, completing several yoga teacher trainings in tropical Kerala and Goa (South India), and living in Kathmandu, taking many field trips out into the mountain villages to help the construction of a school in my friend’s remote village. These travels have led to numerous interactions with the great human family that have humbled me, left me on the hay laughing, made me question myself and the state of the world, frustrated me, and always kept me coming back for more. What is so wonderful is that many of these experiences have been while instructing Dragons programs (this program will be the 10th time I have instructed for WTBD). I cannot wait to see what we come across!

One again, I bow to all of you who have chosen to embark on such a journey together. Not only does it take a certain amount of courage to leave behind what is familiar and comfortable, but it takes a certain surrender to the draws of the wild, a surrender we should respect and feel honored by. What lies ahead involves a tickling of all our senses, a recognition of the brother and sisterhood between ourselves and those we will meet along the way, and a healthy dose of bliss, challenge, and great adventure all around!

We will all be in touch as our plans develop, and I look forward to seeing your (jetlagged) faces at the Delhi airport in 2 weeks! Until then, please feel free to e-mail me with any questions.

See you soon!
Kristin Brudevold

k.brudevold@gmail.com

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Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

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Introductions

Kristin Brudevold,Choate: Custom India, Summer 2010

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Welcome! Jullay! This is the beginning of an extraordinary unfolding together, and I so look forward to meeting you all in about 2 weeks! I just returned last night to warmer climes after spending the last month up in Ladakh with Dragons. Although I just emerged chapped and sunburnt and am still thawing out from […]

Posted On

05/28/10

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Kristin Brudevold