Photo of the Week
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    [post_content] => 妈妈,

我正在 Dharamsala, 一个北印度的小哼。我和我的小组会今天晚上等火车去新德里。我们会在新德里待一天然后飞去拉达克。拉达克是个在北印度的一个市地区,我们会在那里爬山,待在本地人家和在拉达克逛街。

我很想你和姐姐,四个星期后见!

许光耀

 
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SUMMER: North India 6-Week

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北印度

许光耀,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

妈妈, 我正在 Dharamsala, 一个北印度的小哼。我和我的小组会今天晚上等火车去新德里。我们会在新德里待一天然后飞去拉达克。拉达克是个在北印度的一个市地区,我们会在那里爬山,待在本地人家和在拉达克逛街。 我很想你和姐姐,四个星期后见! 许光耀  

Posted On

07/15/17

Author

许光耀

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    [post_date] => 2017-07-15 11:23:07
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    [post_content] => 

Namaste to All Friends and Family,

Today we said goodbye to our homestay families here in McLeod Ganj and board an overnight train to Delhi, from where we'll fly to Ladakh for the second part of our adventure. In many ways, the homestays are the soul of a Dragons course. These families take our students in and treat them like their own children: feeding them, going on walks in the morning, sharing laughs and jokes over the language barrier. All the families our students stay with in McLeod Ganj are Tibetan refugees, or the children or grandchildren of Tibetan refugees. These brave people have fled their home, travelling over dangerous mountain passes and avoiding capture by the Chinese army to reach India. In India, they are exiles, here only at the invitation of the Indian government, but without any benefits of citizenship. By staying with these families, our students get a first hand looks at the life of a refugee. There are hardships to be sure, but there is also a joy and compassion that the Tibetan people have, an inner strength that is clear to anyone who spends time with them.

As a thank you to these families, our student group organized a farewell party for them yesterday afternoon. They created thank you cards and each shared a special memory from their time with their families. Some students spoke of visits to the Dalai Lama's temple, other talked about the bond they had formed with the family's children, still other students came away with hours of conversation about life, faith and the Tibetan struggle. Enjoy some pictures of our students at the homestay party.

The Indian novelist Anita Desai wrote “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” Although we are leaving McLeod Ganj, our Tibetan families and the kindnesses they have shown us will always have a place in our hearts.

With love,

North India

 

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Saying Goodbye

Instructors,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

Namaste to All Friends and Family, Today we said goodbye to our homestay families here in McLeod Ganj and board an overnight train to Delhi, from where we’ll fly to Ladakh for the second part of our adventure. In many ways, the homestays are the soul of a Dragons course. These families take our students […]

Posted On

07/15/17

Author

Instructors

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    [post_content] => As we staterd Our journey in India and  we starred takeing deep in Buddhism and we start learning about Buddha path love and compassion and we took the dip in the ocean off meditation. We found out on this course is There is one line in Buddhism what's it's call nothing is permanent and its means everything have to change and we do the same thing with our dragons trip. As we can say we have every day different teacher passing new mountain weather and meeting new culture in our journey we are changing the place to place. But there is one thing is that when we always change so there is allways new path off learning because when we are on new path you we allways try to  start being mindful try to learn from our each new steps. So Now We are ready take new step and ready change for our next journey and learn more from this multi colourful religions and from secrets mountains like Himalaya and secrets rivers and ready to learn  about true meaning of life  how to be strong like mountain  even there is so many ups and down in our life and go with flow like rivers and make your own path..
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Nothing Is permanent

I - Team,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

As we staterd Our journey in India and  we starred takeing deep in Buddhism and we start learning about Buddha path love and compassion and we took the dip in the ocean off meditation. We found out on this course is There is one line in Buddhism what’s it’s call nothing is permanent and its means everything […]

Posted On

07/14/17

Author

I - Team

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The following poem is by the Tibetan writer and activist Bhuchung Sonam. He has a long and extensive history with the Free Tibet movement starting from his time as a student and was gracious enough to visit us, answer our questions, and read us some poetry from his newest published work, Songs of the Arrow. Below I've also attached a quick link to three of his poems (although they aren't cited to their respective books) titled: "Banishment", "When Was I Born?", and "A Song". The link itself also gives access to the works of many Tibetan poets and I would encourage you to take a look if you have the time, at least the three of Sonam's works you can find on this page are very short. For convenience sake I've copied and pasted "Banishment" below. Rather than expressing his relationship with a Tibetan homeland, as the poem "When Was I Born?" does very strongly, the 'home' he refers to here is more of a ethereal idea of permanent settlement and connection to a piece of land. As a Tibetan living in exile, Sonam relayed to us his experiences of having to constantly pick up and move his life at a moments notice; the life of a refugee is one of impermanence and lacks connection. His home in this poem is not a home, it is a dwelling. The small beings who accompany him, and the larger ones they may represent, cannot understand his first language and thus one of the only ties to Tibet he has been able to carry with him, Tibetan language, is constantly forced to the back of his tongue. This also relates to the work of a small NGO we visited, the Gu Chu Sum Movement of Tibet, that works with reintegrating and rehabilitating former Tibetan political prisoners now coming into exile; where do they live and how can they learn to communicate, to reintegrate into society? Language and land ties are issues of identity almost any Tibetan or other refugee could relate to, and while the Tibetans, such as many other peoples, have exhibited incredible resilience, it is important to recognize their collective struggle, as we in the West tend to focus on the messages of love and compassion spread by Buddhist religious leaders. Not all Tibetans are monks or nuns, not all adhere to Buddhist teaching or philosophy, and anyone who doesn't show compassion to oppressor, self, or situation, is justified. The best way to understand what it means to be Tibetan, beyond talking to actual Tibetans, is to read their literature and follow their resistance movements, along with researching their cultural heritage. Tibetan prayer flags now fly all around the world, but the message they should hold for us is more than to love they neighbor; for us in the West especially, it should be to fight for thy neighbor's dignity and life.

Banishment

By Bhuchung D. Sonam

Away from home

I live in my thirty-sixth rented room

With a trapped bee

and a three-legged spider

Spider crawls on the wall

and I on the floor

Bee bangs at the window

and I on the table

Often we stare at each other

Sharing our pool of loneliness

They paint the wall

with droppings and webs

I give them isolated

words net, maze, tangle

wings, buzz, flutter

Away from home

My minutes are hours

Spider travels from the window to the ceiling

Bee flies from the window to the bin

I stare out of the window

Neither speaks each other's tongue

I wish

You would go deaf

Before my silence

Link to Tibetan Poet Anthology: http://bigbridge.org/BB17/poetry/anthologyoftibetanpoets/Bhuchung_D_Sonam.html

Link to Gu Chu Sum Homepage: http://www.guchusum.in/

Both the artist and the organization listed above are on social media like Facebook too!

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Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: North India 6-Week

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what does it mean to be tibetan

Fiona Sherman,Best Notes From The Field, SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

The following poem is by the Tibetan writer and activist Bhuchung Sonam. He has a long and extensive history with the Free Tibet movement starting from his time as a student and was gracious enough to visit us, answer our questions, and read us some poetry from his newest published work, Songs of the Arrow. […]

Posted On

07/14/17

Author

Fiona Sherman

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    [post_date] => 2017-07-14 08:57:46
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    [post_content] => 

Waking up to the faint call of a falcon echoing off the mountainside, the sight of soft clouds resting on green-roofed homes meets curious eyes as I try to spot what is gliding through the mist. Before my visit to Mcleod Ganj, I would have expected to find a description such as this in a fantasy novel or a movie script. Here, this sight is a daily phenomenon of life during the monsoon season. The climate is comfortably chilly, especially after experiencing the thick heat of Delhi. The locals of this area exhibit a similar cool, calm demeanor. Walking through the damp streets just wide enough for a taxi, a motorcycle, and a person or two, honks from passing vehicles help drivers be on their way, and pedestrians be in the clear. Street vendors can be heard advertising freshly cooked momos, as shopkeepers hang up colorful linens outside their stores. All the while, visitors such as ourselves dance between these and other locals, curious tourists, and trickling traffic.

Spontaneous conversations about our visit to India are prompted by requests for selfies, curious cafe neighbors, and friendly shopkeepers. Our experience with the local community has been enhanced through various means; a scavenger hunt led us to ask questions as serious as, “Who is the leader of the Tibetan Government in Exile?”, to more lighthearted questions such as, “In Tibetan and Hindi, what sounds do cows and chickens make?” In the morning, we bid farewell to our homestay families, and gather as an audience to a guest speaker. On one occasion, a political poet shared his longing to return to Tibet through prose, while on another a traditional Tibetan doctor described our health conditions by taking our pulse with six fingers. The speakers have been diverse in their perspectives on the Tibetan culture, and the material they had chosen to share with us.

All these adventures have been incredibly exciting, while offering valuable insight into the life of the Tibetan people in exile. As I prepare to pack my bags and say goodbye to my host family, I reflect on what this quiet town of Mcleod Ganj has taught me. With the next destination residing high up in the remote region of Ladakh, the understanding and awareness that I have gained for the Tibetan people's condition will make the next step in this journey much more intimate and insightful.

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Mcleod Ganj: Learning from the Locals

Adam Kostanecki,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

Waking up to the faint call of a falcon echoing off the mountainside, the sight of soft clouds resting on green-roofed homes meets curious eyes as I try to spot what is gliding through the mist. Before my visit to Mcleod Ganj, I would have expected to find a description such as this in a […]

Posted On

07/14/17

Author

Adam Kostanecki

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    [post_date] => 2017-07-11 09:09:43
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    [post_content] => One of the many things I did not anticipate when beginning this trip was the importance of Pokemon. I'd be lying if I said that I had an extensive Pokemon knowledge, but I did dabble in Pokemon Go last summer, which in hindsight is one of the better decisions I've made.

When I first arrived in my homestay family's house, we sat in silence for a few hours, watching Pokemon in Hindi. The silence was permeated every now and then by a hearty laugh from Tenzin Wangdu, my 6 year old homestay brother. At around 7, a Squirtle appeared on the screen, so I said "Squirtle!" excitedly, and thus a friendship began. Being 6 years old, Tenzin Wangdu speaks just a few words of English, and his 9 year old brother, Tenzin Dhonyoe, who speaks English well, was showering. But we didn't need much English to communicate. He hopped up to grab his Pokemon cards, and proceeded to absolutely demolish me in a game. To be fair, I think he was making up the rules as he went- but I didn't mind. He quickly grew bored with my lack of Pokemon skill and decided to teach me a few hand games. The first one, called "si si si", apparently calls for silence once the hand clapping pattern is finished but as I don't know Tibetan and he does not know English, this knowledge escaped me, and I was unsure as to why he kept proudly proclaiming "you lose!!!".  I caught on, but Tenzin Wangdu does not lose so he had to find other methods so that I would continue losing. And so he surprise tickled me. Needless to say, I lost again. He was very proud.

There's something beautiful in the awkward and vulnerable first moments of a homestay, or even just meeting someone from a different culture for the first time. The beauty resides in moments of silence, uncomfortable laughs, the first cup of tea, and of course, watching Pokemon. Yet when I'm at home it does not feel like I'm in India, or anywhere foreign, and I never felt like a stranger. It truly feels like I'm at home. The streets of Mecleod Ganj do not resemble those of Washington D.C., but the people do. I see the interconnectedness of all humans that the Buddha described in my families, real and homestay. Whether we live in McLean, Virginia as Americans, or in Dharamshala as Tibetan Refugees, the souls of all of us- what makes us human- share deep similarities. Love, compassion, and kindness, the pillars of Tibetan Buddhism, as just as prevalent in D.C. as they are here, and they're the same in both places.

Thank you to Squirtle for making Dharamshala a home.
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SUMMER: North India 6-Week

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Squirtle in Dharamshala

Alexa Rooney,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

One of the many things I did not anticipate when beginning this trip was the importance of Pokemon. I’d be lying if I said that I had an extensive Pokemon knowledge, but I did dabble in Pokemon Go last summer, which in hindsight is one of the better decisions I’ve made. When I first arrived […]

Posted On

07/11/17

Author

Alexa Rooney

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    [post_date] => 2017-07-07 08:31:55
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Dear Friends and Family,

How can I even describe my first few days here? Food is great. People are great. Life is great. The people here welcome us with kind and open hearts and I've never felt more accepted in a culture other than my own. I've felt this kind of compassion come from people in Delhi and Rewalsar. I wish to bring this form of love back to the United States. I've loved learning about no only one, two but three religions thus far and to see how this new found knowledge can contribute to everyday life. That's all I have to report for the time being but don't worry I'll be back!

Best,

Audrey

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SUMMER: North India 6-Week

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Reflections

Audrey Aldisert,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

Dear Friends and Family, How can I even describe my first few days here? Food is great. People are great. Life is great. The people here welcome us with kind and open hearts and I’ve never felt more accepted in a culture other than my own. I’ve felt this kind of compassion come from people […]

Posted On

07/7/17

Author

Audrey Aldisert

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As an Indian, I am well aware of the importance of religion and spirituality. What surprises me during every visit back is how all religions on the subcontinent coexist especially in places like Tso Pema. Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh temples all help to create a rich and vibrant culture like no other. Hinduism with its unique traditions and gods helps to put much of the Indian culture into perspective. Buddhism coupled with both Tibetan and Indian cultures has been a cornerstone piece of our Indian/Tibetan learning immersion. Lastly, Sikhs and the Gurudwara offers us, as outsiders, an opportunity to become part of a culture that is not commonly known but still plays a role in helping to piece together the Indian culture. While each has its own unique traits and charm all of them exhibit such amazing beliefs and ideas-each so different then the ones back in the United States. While some may not believe in the ideas the religions express all can agree if the uniqueness and rich traditions.

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SUMMER: North India 6-Week

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Religious Differences

Preet Rajpal,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

As an Indian, I am well aware of the importance of religion and spirituality. What surprises me during every visit back is how all religions on the subcontinent coexist especially in places like Tso Pema. Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh temples all help to create a rich and vibrant culture like no other. Hinduism with its […]

Posted On

07/7/17

Author

Preet Rajpal

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    [post_content] => Bucket in hand, a large man strolled up and down the line of people sitting on the ground, happily eating their perfectly satisfactory-sized portions of daal. He suddenly halted in front of Preet, and before Preet could utter another word, the man whipped out his ladel and splashed down a third helping of daal for Preet. Preet looked at me, exasperated. "I could see the bottom" he said. I laughed, but before I knew it, the man was towering over me instead. Realizing this man's plans and my impending fate, I gestured furiously with my hands, trying to (politely) explain that two helpings were plenty. But alas, a small droplet of lentil landed on my bare feet as yet another scoop of daal was ever-so-generously served to me. I sighed and started in yet again, determined to make it my last meal, at least for the next thirty minutes or so. The man continued down the line of clueless foreigners, dolling out the yellow soup like a mother feeding vegetables to her children. Eventually, we came to the conclusion that  the only way to avoid a never-ending pool of daal in front of you was to physically lean over your plate and cover it with your entire body, making it rather impossible for the man to smeesh his menacing ladle in there. All in all, we walked away from the generous lunch with a few extra pounds and a newfound awareness of Indian hospitality.

 
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SUMMER: North India 6-Week

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Lunch at the Gurudwara

Cora Sutcliffe,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

Bucket in hand, a large man strolled up and down the line of people sitting on the ground, happily eating their perfectly satisfactory-sized portions of daal. He suddenly halted in front of Preet, and before Preet could utter another word, the man whipped out his ladel and splashed down a third helping of daal for […]

Posted On

07/5/17

Author

Cora Sutcliffe

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    [post_content] => The past few days have been surreal. From Delhi, a whirlwind of sounds, smells, and rickshaws, to Tso Pema, an incredible town nestled in the foothills of the Himalaya with an unbelievable aura of peace. We are currently staying at a monastery, and a few of us found a beautiful spot on the roof where we sit, talk, journal, meditate, and enjoy our surroundings. Tibetan prayer flags fly in the wind over our heads, releasing the messages of love and peace into the air. The breeze eases the heat coming from the sun. Sometimes, we sit there and watch as a thunderstorm rolls over the mountains in the distance. Monkeys frolic around the trees, playing with each other, stealthily sneaking crackers from the monks and then carefully opening the package and eating the crackers one by one. But perhaps the best part of sitting on that roof is looking out at the town of Tso Pema, the many temples and religious sites, and the beautiful, green mountains. What especially strikes me about Tso Pema is the way that the amount of activity (3 different religions and people going about day to day business) does not disturb the overall calmness of the town, which we can truly observe from the roof. I have loved waking up at 6am (which is very unusual for me) to go sit on the roof with Cora and Katherine and take it all in.

The calmness of Tso Pema, however, was not present in our hike yesterday. After being assured that it was but a short walk to a cave somewhere on the mountain (the top of the mountain), the innocent students set out excitedly on our first hike in our trekking boots. It was a short walk to the Buddhist temple that we saw first, and Saurabh-ji assured us that it was a five minute walk to the cave. It was two hours, and it was a climb. Apparently, North Indians do not believe in switchbacks -- we climbed steep stairs straight up the mountain. But though our thighs burned, we kept a pretty solid pace, stopping every now and then to enjoy the beautiful view. When we finally arrived at the top of the mountain, we found the energy that we lacked on the hike, and proceeded to the cave, which is a holy site for Buddhists. Inside the cave was a statue of the GURU ..., and the statue is placed where he used to meditate. After sitting in the cool cave and learning about the different artifacts we saw, we climbed a few more stairs to the very top of the mountain which is covered with the mystical Tibetan prayer flags. We hung our own, which was a surreal experience. Then we had some chai and tried a few new Indian snacks. Hemant-ji gave us these little green candies, called pulse, which he promised were delicious, and described as "salty mango bites with a surprise". The surprise was equivalent to the taste of powdered rotten eggs. In true dragons fashion, we're going to look at the positives of this situation: a few wonderful pictures of faces of pure disgust. We all downed our chai and cappuccino flavored candies to rid both the taste and any memory of that taste from our mouths, then happily clambered onto a bus back to the monastery, where showers and dinner awaited us. Needless to say, no one struggled to fall asleep that night... except for Preet and Adam, who returned to a scorpion in their room. No worries: Fiona valiantly disposed of it, and I provided needed moral support from a distance.
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SUMMER: North India 6-Week

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Thoughts from the rooftop

Alexa Rooney,SUMMER: North India 6-Week

Description

The past few days have been surreal. From Delhi, a whirlwind of sounds, smells, and rickshaws, to Tso Pema, an incredible town nestled in the foothills of the Himalaya with an unbelievable aura of peace. We are currently staying at a monastery, and a few of us found a beautiful spot on the roof where […]

Posted On

07/5/17

Author

Alexa Rooney

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