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Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011


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Namaste once again from steamy Calcutta! We arrived yesterday evening on a flight from Bagdogra after taking jeeps down from Darjeeling.

Yesterday, we had a lovely birthday breakfast to celebrate Jacob at our favorite spot in Darjeeling before hopping in jeeps that took us down the winding hill roads to the airport a few hours away. We enjoyed a fancy dinner in Calcutta last night and this morning we awoke early to visit the Kali Temple.

We leave for Dehli in a few hours with Navita joining us for the first leg of our trip. Her good friend is meeting us at the airport to say hello and bring us our last taste of Indian samosas. I'll accompany the students all the way to Cleveland...I look forward to meeting all the parents. It's hard to believe we'll be on the other side of the planet come tomorrow. I'm enjoying our last few hours of Hindi songs, the rickshaws lining the streets, the taste of chai tea, and the company of our kids and Navita.

See you soon!

Megan

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Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

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We’re on our way!

Megan Fettig,Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

Description

Namaste once again from steamy Calcutta! We arrived yesterday evening on a flight from Bagdogra after taking jeeps down from Darjeeling. Yesterday, we had a lovely birthday breakfast to celebrate Jacob at our favorite spot in Darjeeling before hopping in jeeps that took us down the winding hill roads to the airport a few hours […]

Posted On

07/1/11

Author

Megan Fettig

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The rain pours but I don't mind. It means I'm here. In lovely Darjeeling. With an amazing group of 6 kids. Today we hiked down to Pandam tea garden, learned about the tea-making process, ate a lovely rice and lentil lunch at a little tucked away spot, and most of all, enjoyed each other's company (we have some cheesy pictures to prove it!)

Sarah booked us a ride on the Toy Train for tomorrow (Wednesday) then we gather with our families and internship mentors for a celebration in the late afternoon before heading home to our last night in Darjeeling. We have a flight the following day to Kolkata (Jacob's birthday!!) for our last night on this continent.

Again, the company we keep makes this trip what it is. Your kids. My co-instructors. The community of West Bengal and Darjeeling. And how they all intersect. Overlapping. Rippling into each other's lives.

Good night!

Megan

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Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

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Another rainy night in Darjeeling

Megan Fettig,Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

Description

The rain pours but I don’t mind. It means I’m here. In lovely Darjeeling. With an amazing group of 6 kids. Today we hiked down to Pandam tea garden, learned about the tea-making process, ate a lovely rice and lentil lunch at a little tucked away spot, and most of all, enjoyed each other’s company […]

Posted On

06/28/11

Author

Megan Fettig

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    [post_title] => Colleen, Sarah, and Sudip Monday afternoon
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Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

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Colleen, Sarah, and Sudip Monday afternoon

Megan Fettig,Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

Description

Posted On

06/27/11

Author

Megan Fettig

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Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

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Photos from this morning’s service project

Megan Fettig,Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

Description

Posted On

06/27/11

Author

Megan Fettig

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It's hard to believe our time here is coming to an end! Regardless of our limited days, we are still diving into life here. The kids are enjoying their home-stay families and have each taken to their internships in their own ways. Zach and Jacob can't seem to get enough time with their internship mentor - they are making "khukuris", traditional knives - and are often in a hurry to get back to the shop. Yesterday they enjoyed tea with their mentor after their work was finished. Sophie and Colleen started off at Hayden Hall - a Catholic refuge in town for women and children - but the timing didn't work out with our schedule, so they've since jumped over to help out a friend of mine spiffy up his little restaurant. They've just started and the new prayer flags, table cloths, and murals already make it feel incredibly more homey and artistic already! An hour ago, I was helping paint a "delicious filtered coffee" sign as Colleen and Sarah were drawing on the walls inside (Sarah is helping out too), as the rain poured down and two other female travelers chimed in their ideas and opinions. Aric is jamming on Himalayan instruments and within the first 3 minutes of meeting his mentor already hopped on an accordion and played away. Sarah is shadowing a local tour guide - an old friend of Dragon's named "KayKay", an elder Nepali man whose personal stories are intertwined with the history and legends of Darjeeling. Each time we visit a new place, she gives us an account of the history. Yesterday she taught us about the history of the Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering and the Zoo during our visit and tomorrow she's teaching us about Darjeeling tea when we hike to a tea garden and get a factory tour. She has also booked us tickets on the "Toy Train" for our last day here. The Toy Train, as it is fondly called, is a two car train deemed a World Heritage Site that is a coal run and slowly chugs through the little towns around Darjeeling.

Colleen, Sarah, and I had planned on sitting in on the afternoon Buddhist chanting at "Dali Monastery" but the onslaught of rain deterred us and we stayed to paint my friend, Sudip's, shop instead (photos enclosed). Sophie went home early today (at 3PM) so she could attend "puja" (religious ceremony) with her home-stay mom. I'd say that the kids have jumped in!

Many of the photos enclosed are from our morning's service project where the kids painted the kitchen of an itsy-bitsy, 3 roomed school house that sits just below some of their home-stay houses. Colleen's mother teaches at the school and welcomed us warmly. The other photos are from this afternoon's painting of Sudip's shop as a part of Colleen, Sophie, and Sarah's internship, giving back to the local community. (The photos won't upload, I'll try to get them up on a separate post.)

Navita and I are loving our time here, the company kept, and the activities that keep us busy from morning to night. Our thoughts go out to the rest of the Hawken group, who by now, should be home in the process of battling the jet-lag that comes with traveling home from Asia. We only have two more full days here in Darjeeling before flying down to Calcutta, and I think I speak on behalf of all 8 of us when I say that the time is flying. I wouldn't mind another week!

We hope this finds you all well and happy!

Megan

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Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

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Service and Internships in Darjeeling

Megan Fettig,Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

Description

It’s hard to believe our time here is coming to an end! Regardless of our limited days, we are still diving into life here. The kids are enjoying their home-stay families and have each taken to their internships in their own ways. Zach and Jacob can’t seem to get enough time with their internship mentor […]

Posted On

06/27/11

Author

Megan Fettig

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India is one of those rare places where you can stay for months, and still be overwhelmed only by the sights and sounds and smells that you observe. To dive into a culture, to not just observe but immerse oneself in it as we set out to do, is a different thing entirely. It becomes hard to imagine doing both, to simultaneously bear witness to the incredible city of Darjeeling and the innumerable sights it has to offer and live as if you were a part of the city yourself. But yesterday, as our two host brothers - childhood friends who even now at college age are still close - took us on a walk through their neighborhood of Navingram, it seems we accomplished both.

First, the sights: though we were a half hour walk away from Central Darjeeling, we came across some amazing sites as we navigated the winding, hilly streets of what I guess you could call a suburb of Darjeeling. The views alone were breathtaking. Darjeeling is a vertical city, with streets running in tiers and houses built into the mountain, so nearly every balcony, and every corner, offers a view into the Himalayan valleys beyond. The rainy season clouds are always present, filling in the crags formed by the mountains like water in slow motion. It's seems ridiculous that these people wake up to that every morning. Equally mesmerizing was the huge Japanese Peace Pagoda we visited, a giant white stupa dedicated to the life of Buddha. It was late enough that we were the only ones there, and we were able to walk around the perimeter of the building and look at the carved friezes depicting Buddha's life without rushing or squeezing by people as on the streets. It was a stark reminder of how far-reaching religion can be - that such a great strucutre could be found in such an average place just because of the inspiring nature of one man.

From the stupa, we followed the sound of beating drums into a monastery, which seemed to be connected to the Peace Pagoda. We were able to walk into the shrine room as guest, pick up our own drums, and fall in sync with the rhythmic chanting, which our host brothers explained happens daily from 4-7 without stopping. Again, the sights and sounds were almost to much to take in. Even in a Darjeeling suburb, India never ceases to amaze.

These two friends, brothers even, led us on as mesmorizing and engrossing a walk as the sights themselves. On every corner, every turn in the road, the brothers picked up and dropped off friends from back in the day, trading greetings and handshakes with the boys from the block. As a kid growing up in a small suburb with few kids on the street, I was blown away by the depth of the relationships between these young men. Upon asking my brother how he managed to get along with all of them, he simply responded, "We're polite to them, they're polite to us." If only the world worked this way, we'd be in much better shape. The seemingly universal shake-grab-bump handshake symbolized the bond that these now-college-aged kids shared with one another, a bond born out of not just location, but neighborly compassion.

As part of our walk's itinerary, we walked up to the two different schools that our brothers had separately attended. One was a Christian school, which sparked a conversation about religion. One brother was a practicing Hindu; practicing being a loose term. The other, who had attended the Christian school, called himself non-religious, preferring to believe in G-d in his own way, without anyone telling him how to have faith. These two very different schools of thought, one relying on a pantheon of very visually symbolic gods and another that leaves belief up to the practioner, coexist between these two friends without conflict, without malice. Again, "We're polite to them, they're polite to us" applied, allowing for a loving, not just peaceful, relationship between these two "brothers"

India is one of very few places that allows for the cohabitation of so many different ideas and people. Visiting a giant stuppa next to a soccer field, a military base, and at least three schools really brought that reality home. As we continue our homestays, such experiences will only grow in depth and personal importance; we have barely scratched the surface of our families and their histories, but only time will allow for that. With patience and more than a little luck, we as guests will be able to open ourselves to giving and receiving pieces of the peoples and the places from where we have come and from where we are.

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Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

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A Private Tour

Zach Voigt and Aric Floyd,Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

Description

India is one of those rare places where you can stay for months, and still be overwhelmed only by the sights and sounds and smells that you observe. To dive into a culture, to not just observe but immerse oneself in it as we set out to do, is a different thing entirely. It becomes […]

Posted On

06/24/11

Author

Zach Voigt and Aric Floyd

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I stepped onto the patio, and then followed my Ama's sister into the house. She motioned with her right arm towards a petite salmon/pink room with lace and yellow checkered curtains strung over the low windows. After dropping my backpack in the corner and surveying the room briefly, did I step through the white curtained doorway into a larger sitting room. "Chia?" she asked me in a sweet tone. I answered "yes please, thank you very much" to which she responded hurredly with "no English. Nepali. No English". We laughed for a couple seconds before I followed her into the lavendar painted kitchen. She pointed to a wooden chair covered in a red and black knit cushion, and I took a seat in front of the window at the small table pushed up against the wall. She hurried into the kitchen and I could hear the clattering of dishes and the quiet click of the lighter as the stove kicked to life. I sat quietly with my legs crossed, arms folded over my legs, looking around the room at the small decorated sofa and the fake flowers hanging from the walls. Then, another bustle in the kitchen, a couple shouted words, some movement, and in through the dooway walked the woman who was to be my "Ama" (mother) for the next week. She greeted me with a small smile and her hands raised to her chest, before sitting opposite me on the sofa I had just been staring at. We exchanged names. Silence. She began by telling me about how she is a school teacher. We talked for about 10 minutes about what she does, the children, my mother and father, and my school back home. Silence. Smiles. Awkwardly looking around the room. She asked, "Did you bring pictures?" to which I dissapointingly responded that I hadn't. I crossed my legs the other way. I drank my tea. Her sister brought me out popcorn and crackers and set them on the table in front of me. I asked about her family: 5 brothers and 2 sisters, where they lived, about their ages and their wellbeing. Our conversation went on like this for about 45 minutes. The kitchen was comfortable and cute, but I couldn't help but be extremely aware of myself and the awkward, fragmented conversation I was contributing to.

After a while of talking, I was asked if I wanted to rest, and I must say that the hour or two spent in my room reading was a very welcomed time to just take in my surroundings, adjust to where I was, and take a deep breath. After some time when I tired of reading and writing, drawing and figeting, I emerged from my room to ask the sister if she needed help preparing dinner. When she saw me, she jumped up a little bit, reminded me, "no english, no english", and hurredly went to get her sister. 3 minutes later, I found myself in the same situation: in my window chair, her on the sofa, attempting to make small talk. As the night progressed, she seemed to grow more comfortable with my presense. I sat next to her in the sitting room as she flipped through albums of past homestay Dragons students who had stayed with her for weeks and mailed her books or cards filled with pictures and memories. She was eagear to talk about her "kids", to tell me of the things they had done and her stories. Jacob visited me on the patio (his house just beneath mine) before dinner, and I was comforted to know that his experiences were similar to mine. Conversation was easier through dinneras she showed me simple things in the kitchen, and was constantly checking on how I was (Was I full? Was I hungry? Was it good? Did I want more?). This morning when I woke up, she had hot water ready for me to shower. Afterwards she excitedly beckoned me into the small lavendar kitchen with her to cook breakfast. I was happy to have something to do with her, time that we could interact. She seemed thrilled to teach me how to cook, after I sheepishly explained that I am hopeless in the kitchen. We made potatoes for the evening, ramen-type noodles, strained rice for later, and boiled milk for cereal. She brought me out eggs while I was eating because, as she kept saying, she wanted to know that "my stomach would be good". As I left to meet Jacob and his brother before walking up to the program house about 20 minutes away, I gave her a hug and she smiled at me, telling me to have a good day and don't miss the house on my way home.

I think in all of our homestay situations, awkwardness, break in conversation, adjustment time, and language confusion is inevitable. In even the short time I have been there (not even a fully day), I have felt a lot of improvement in the way we interact and her comfort level towards me. I can only imagine that it will get better, and I will come to know well this woman who I have heard is extremely kind and caring. I look forward to spending the next week with her, getting to know her family, and learning what it feels like to be a part of her lifestyle. I have only a positive attitude and am sure, that while it may take a little bit of time, I am giong to have a great experience staying in her home!

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Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

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First Impressions

Colleen Schikowski,Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

Description

I stepped onto the patio, and then followed my Ama’s sister into the house. She motioned with her right arm towards a petite salmon/pink room with lace and yellow checkered curtains strung over the low windows. After dropping my backpack in the corner and surveying the room briefly, did I step through the white curtained […]

Posted On

06/24/11

Author

Colleen Schikowski

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Ama (Nepali for Mother) speaks English. As we talk, she tells me that she only knows a little bit of English and that she has not practiced the language for a long time. I quickly learned that she knows much more English than she let on. However, talking in a foreign language is still difficult. Her words don't sound like exact English and Nepali is much easier for her to understand. So I have taken up the challenge of trying to learn Nepali. Ama loves to teach me. When we drink our chia (Nepali for tea), she tells me Nepali word for some English words. Probably because food is the basis of our relationship, I have learned mostly animal names and cooking terms. Suddenly we have a topic of conversation in the kitchen. She teaches me the words for everything, smilling and chuckling at my horrible mispronunciation. Teaching Nepali has filled the space of silence when the spurts of awkward small talk end.

Even more than the learning, my mistakes have bonded me and Ama. Together in the kitchen she told me cheese is paneer. Paneer sounds incredibly similar to "pani" the Nepali word for water. So when I exclaimed, "we are going to fry pani!" Ama burst into eruption of giggles, her round face lighting up as she reminded me the difference of the two words. Soon, I realized me mistake and we were both making a ruckus with our nonstop laughter. Baba (Nepali for father) even rushed in the room, the worried expression on his face relaxing as he understood the noise was from our giggles. Even later as Ama served me dinner, she smiled with a hint of laughter on her lips when she scooped the paneer.

Learning Nepali has been difficult for me, especially when my family speaks English so well. But I know the rewards of learning will be so great when I saw the grin on Ama and Baba's faces as I told them with enthusiasm, "Man Parcha kana!" (I like the food!). They laugh whenever I butcher the pronunciation of their native tounge and I laugh with them. So I will continue to ask "Nepali word?" about every item in the house because both my language successes and mistakes have resulted in some of my favorite moments with my new Darjeeling family.

Hopefully next post, I will be able to finish with the Nepali for talk to you later but for now, English must suffice.

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Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

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A Struggle and a Bond

Sophie Kerman,Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

Description

Ama (Nepali for Mother) speaks English. As we talk, she tells me that she only knows a little bit of English and that she has not practiced the language for a long time. I quickly learned that she knows much more English than she let on. However, talking in a foreign language is still difficult. […]

Posted On

06/24/11

Author

Sophie Kerman

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The night before we all left, our instructors held a ceremony for us. We stood in a circle around a small brazier on the roof of our guesthouse. Each of us ha a piece a paper with us, on it we had written one thing we wanted to let go of. One by one, we went up and burned the paper in the brazier. On a mat next to the brazier was layed out a variety of pairs of necklaces. We chose a neckless and made a promise that in ten days we would contact the person with the matching necklace. A gift exchange ensued, followed by a moment of silence. Slowly, we made our way through the darkened streets of Darjeeling toward our last dinner together. We ate, we laughed, we reminisced about our time together and suddenly it was time to go back the Andy's. The next morning, those of us who were staying rose early to say goodbye to those who were leaving. We followed them to their jeeps, shared a hug, a handshake, a few tearfull words and then they were gone.

Jacob Broida

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Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

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Parting Ways

Jacob Broida,Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

Description

The night before we all left, our instructors held a ceremony for us. We stood in a circle around a small brazier on the roof of our guesthouse. Each of us ha a piece a paper with us, on it we had written one thing we wanted to let go of. One by one, we […]

Posted On

06/24/11

Author

Jacob Broida

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    [post_content] => The prospect of trying to manage a new culture so different from our own, plus integrating into our home stay families can seem very overwhelming. On top of this one might also be worried about the language barrier making things even more difficult.  However, when I arrived at my home stay home last night I actually found my lack of Nepali a little frusterating at times but for the most part a bonding tool. If my host mother or sister and I were lacking things to say they were always quick to teach me a new Nepali word or phrase. Often times I would say it wrong or spell it incorrectly and this made for a funny situation that we could all laugh about. Also, now they enjoy quizzing me to see what I have remembered. With language I don't always have the best retention so once again we are able to find humor in the situation when I've written a word down and forgot it in the next thirty seconds. This morning was especially special as my host dad (baba) told me last night that starting today no one would speak English to me. He was only partly joking as when I headed off to the bathroom this morning he waited for me to sleeply fumble with the Nepali words for good morning that he had taught me the night before. Also this morning my Ama (host mom) taught me the words for all the ingredients of my tea and breakfast. Later, my baba joined me for a formal Nepali lesson with an actual text book my host brother had used years before. All of this compiled with a highly informative and well taught group Nepali lesson in the program house today has helped to broaden my connections with the city and all the people I have met and will meet along the way.
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Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

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Learning Nepali

Sarah Jammal,Hawken Sikkim Summer Course, Summer 2011

Description

The prospect of trying to manage a new culture so different from our own, plus integrating into our home stay families can seem very overwhelming. On top of this one might also be worried about the language barrier making things even more difficult. However, when I arrived at my home stay home last night I […]

Posted On

06/24/11

Author

Sarah Jammal

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