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    [post_date] => 2017-07-28 07:19:58
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    [post_content] => Hello Friends and Family,

The Sikkim students are schedule to arrive at JFK at 12:50 pm on their Ethiad flight.  They were able to clear US customs in Abu Dabi, so please be prepared to pick them up accordingly.  Again, they will not need to clear customs in JFK, so you can anticipate that they will be out a bit earlier.

Have a wonderful reunion!!!

 
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SUMMER: Sikkim

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Student Arrival in JFK

Shannon Harriman,SUMMER: Sikkim

Description

Hello Friends and Family, The Sikkim students are schedule to arrive at JFK at 12:50 pm on their Ethiad flight.  They were able to clear US customs in Abu Dabi, so please be prepared to pick them up accordingly.  Again, they will not need to clear customs in JFK, so you can anticipate that they […]

Posted On

07/28/17

Author

Shannon Harriman

Category

SUMMER: Sikkim

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    [post_date] => 2017-07-27 16:06:44
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    [post_content] => Molly:
During this course I…
witnessed undying hospitality and love from people I barely know,
realized my problems are so small,
have been challenged by new dynamic situations,
learned to find peace with myself.

I will bring home with me…
a happy heart
sipping tea slowly
meaningful conversations
walking slowly
speaking softly
hugging often
holding hands
using less water
producing less trash
being aware of my surroundings
being okay with looking sweaty, dirty, and gross
strength
peace
mindfulness
and living in love

And last but not least, given the choice between chili beef or momo for the rest of my life I would choose momo. I would choose momo because one can always fill the momo with the chili beef and get the best of both worlds.

Hannah:
July 20, Sitong, West Bengal. The power is out, and my camera died weeks ago, but I want to remember an image of my homestay family.
Amma is bhoju (grandma) to most. She speaks Lepcha and Nepali, but no English whatsoever

Cammy
During this course I…
witnessed: the magic of the Himalayan mountains when the cloudy weather causes the scene to change everyday.
realized: that the people here have found their own source of happiness--spending time with the people they love. In the beginning of this trip I thought that the families we would be home staying with were unfortunate people, and that we should pity them because they don’t have the materialistic things that I have at home. But from the first few days of spending time with my homestay family, I realized that they're just as happy (and maybe even more happy) without those items.
Challenged myself: by being around people most of the time. Even if I didn’t want to, if I felt like crap and was missing home more than usual that day, I still felt that I seized every opportunity I could. I challenged myself by trying to experience everything that I was given the choice to experience.
Learned: that I don't have to push myself to change. I used to believe that every person who travels to a meaningful and somewhat remote place has to change when they come home, otherwise they didn’t get anything out of their trip. I thought that if I didn’t change by the end of this trip, I wouldn’t have used my time wisely, but I learned, just recently, that I can’t (and shouldn’t) completely change in a month. Attempting to drastically change myself within the span of a month has only caused me distress.
As I leave this course I want you to know…that I’m not ungrateful for this trip. I've been talking a lot about how homesick I’ve been (and I can’t deny that), and it may seem like I've only been wanting to come home, but I haven’t. I’ve experienced moments that have made me insanely grateful to be where I am. If I were asked if I would go back to India or stay home, I would probably always choose to go back to India because the experiences I’ve had while being here are worth the homesickness I’ve felt all throughout the trip.
P.S. I miss you, family! I can’t wait to see all of you very soon :)

Chad:

I’d say I’m a pretty positive guy, so what better to talk about for my final on course Yak post than my happiest moments along the trip. Starting from Day 1 in Kolkata India to Day 27 in Siliguri here is my list of happiest moments.

Landing in Kolkata -- The Adventure Begins!
Seeing the mountains of the Sub-Himalayas for the first time.
Hanging out at my Ama’s shop during our first homestay visit in Kalimpong.
Helping my Ama make Momo for the family and the shop.
Seeing the breath taking view at the Tibetan Buddhist monastery atop the mountain we were staying on.
Hanging out with my 1st Homestay sister.
Going to and meditating at Rumtek.
    [post_title] => Transference thoughts...
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SUMMER: Sikkim

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Transference thoughts…

Shannon Harriman,SUMMER: Sikkim

Description

Molly: During this course I… witnessed undying hospitality and love from people I barely know, realized my problems are so small, have been challenged by new dynamic situations, learned to find peace with myself. I will bring home with me… a happy heart sipping tea slowly meaningful conversations walking slowly speaking softly hugging often holding […]

Posted On

07/27/17

Author

Shannon Harriman

Category

SUMMER: Sikkim

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    [post_content] => Hello Friends and Family,

We wanted to let you know that the group has made it to Abu Dabi from Kolkata.  They will be catching their connecting flight there and making their way to JFK soon!

 

 
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Student in Abu Dabi

Shannon Harriman,SUMMER: Sikkim

Description

Hello Friends and Family, We wanted to let you know that the group has made it to Abu Dabi from Kolkata.  They will be catching their connecting flight there and making their way to JFK soon!    

Posted On

07/27/17

Author

Shannon Harriman

Category

SUMMER: Sikkim

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    [post_content] => Sikkim summer 2017 students have begun their journey back home from Kolkata. Please enjoy the attached photograph of the whole team: 11 students along with their instructors.
    [post_title] => Homeward Bound
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Homeward Bound

David smith,SUMMER: Sikkim

Description

Sikkim summer 2017 students have begun their journey back home from Kolkata. Please enjoy the attached photograph of the whole team: 11 students along with their instructors.

Posted On

07/27/17

Author

David smith

Category

SUMMER: Sikkim

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    [post_date] => 2017-07-24 10:12:28
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    [post_content] => Here are some photos from our time in Sittong!!!

      
    [post_title] => Photos from Sittong
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Photos from Sittong

The Instructor Team,SUMMER: Sikkim

Description

Here are some photos from our time in Sittong!!!

Posted On

07/24/17

Author

The Instructor Team

Category

SUMMER: Sikkim

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    [post_content] => It seems like just yesterday that we all arrived in Kolkata together. Strangely, though, it also feels like we have been together for much longer than the little over 3 weeks since touching down. We are now entering the final phase of the Sikkim summer course with 3 days of transference, looking back on the time we have spent together and individually, with a view to how we can bring some of the new found ideas and insights into our lives back home.

Here are a few photos from highlights of our week in Sitong during our rural homestay.

More to come in the next few days!
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Transference

Hilary,SUMMER: Sikkim

Description

It seems like just yesterday that we all arrived in Kolkata together. Strangely, though, it also feels like we have been together for much longer than the little over 3 weeks since touching down. We are now entering the final phase of the Sikkim summer course with 3 days of transference, looking back on the time […]

Posted On

07/24/17

Author

Hilary

Category

SUMMER: Sikkim

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    [post_date] => 2017-07-24 09:51:02
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    [post_content] =>  

“Travel is the oldest human impulse” declared by in Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna in The Age of Discovery. The book illustrates travel literally, with maps, ships, and planes with numerous historical breakthroughs. I believe travel can also be used figuratively.

The physical travel has brought our group to the fascinating community of Lepchas in Kalimpong. One of the instructors, Dave, asked upon third day of arrival: What is the value and power of a community? Grouping is one of oldest behavioral phenomenons among all organisms falling under the kingdom of “Animalia” in binomial nomenclature and I have tackled the question with vigorous curiosity since. The answer manifested itself from simple observation and reflection of my surroundings and experience. All qualities of a virtuous community of Homo sapiens are exhibited here. Altruistic mentality, unconditional sharing and of course, unrivaled hospitality. I have never before in life seen a community nearer to perfection. Curious, I asked one of my home-stay brother “If circumstances and resources allowed, would you want to go abroad?” Without hesitation the answer was yes. I was baffled by the response. Why would that be so?

The 7 days here companies by the pursuit of my question has taken me on a riddling spiritual journey, a journey leading to a paradigm shift regarding several aspects of life.

One night I was reading Aesop’s Fables and one story bares great resemblance to the process of mental and spiritual awakening. It is the story “The Country Mouse and Town Mouse.” Country mouse lives under the stones of a wall, collecting and storing food, serving the family. He considered himself to live like a prince and invited his close relative, the town mice. With great pride and pleasure, the country mouse showed off the food, his cute bunch of sons and daughters. The town mouse however, only nibbles at it languidly. The wife of country mouse then questioned, acknowledging her husband’s hard work, “What fault have you find with it?” To which town mouse responds saying “it is excellent for the country, have you thought how much easier and cheaper it’d be in town?” An invite is returned and a visit is paid. Town mouse lives in a house decorated by long corridors carpeted with velvet, great banqueting halls, gleaming gold and silver plates coupled with all dainties. Just as they begin to feast, the door bursts open and a party of laughing people enter. The mice swiftly retreat. Town mouse says “Keep quiet, still or they will know we are here, and never rest until they kiss us.” Town mouse exclaims with dignity “Fine food is all well cousin, but one still goes hungry if one is now allowed to eat! Give me barley corn and safety rather than game pies and incessant runs of your life. Those terrible creatures have gone and I am going too.”

This story resonates so deeply with me in that the two situations in the story mirror what the two worlds are like; the country mice being Lepchas and Kalimpong, the town mouse symbolizing the outside --- where I come from. The country mouse is equivalent in happiness, pride and work ethic. The “barley corn and safety” is due to the valuable relationships from his wife, sons and daughters which encompass the country mouse. The children embody the values of this community which they will inherit; responsibility, selflessness, tenderness. Contrastingly, the carpeted the corridors, great halls, gold and silver plates are the designer clothes, luxury houses or sports cars the rich decorate themselves with to show off their money, power or status which is the party of laughing people entering. The food then is the rest the majority strives for, financial independence, a house or a secure job. In the modern world, many constantly make “incessant runs for their lives” losing the greatest gift of freedom to the “laughing people”. These people may not even be money, power of status, it can be anything that doesn’t allow independent choice, maybe children or the government. Here, the community will take care for you, I’ve heard and seen. The food may not be as delicious, the sanitation is lacking and perhaps the education is not ideal, but if I was a part from birth, I wouldn’t leave for millions.

Your neighbor has chickens and cows and will share egg, milk and occasionally the meat itself. You may have a tea bush or other vegetation that may be taking up space, your neighbor will happily take the surplus. The education isn’t ideal by modern standards but its value is lived and breathed here. I believe the true value of education lies in possessing means of uplifting collective life quality and extracting happiness from every day life, yet today the temptations have caused people to succumb to the lure of comfort, luxury and money. Amidst rising population and ever fiercer competition or external pressures, people’s wisdom has lost sight of what is truly important -- faith and relationships.

Sadly, such communities are disappearing. Some people are leaving and others are displaced. Another instructor, Sharon (a Lepcha herself) gave an account of what may happen and the verdict is frightening. Like all maiden ventures into otherness, settling at “the land of opportunity” is accompanied by the anticipation and reality of struggles to and for acceptance, belonging, tolerating differences in culture, and finding amidst all that, room to adapt. If one has, through blood, sweat and tears, finally settled, there would not be fear of stability jeopardized again. Life has taught, ironically, the only constant is change. When people leave and return home, the initial sense of connection, duty, indigenousness has been lost. Somebody else can cut the grass, cook the food, and cater other services. Those responsibilities that once were heartily within your palms are now hard to grasp. Some skills have diminished, people have changed, identity has underwent transformation. Such is the chilling prediction of a member here, giving the slight possibility of that hypothesis happening, why would someone want to leave? Some are forced by companies, those who are pursuing exactly what was mentioned previously, money. Companies are selling the electricity and its devastating. Modern day connectivity has almost deemed electricity and energy a “need” but such is not the case here. Phones aren’t commonly used and electric power offs are common without much significant impact yet the damming with the Butterfly effect is leading to substantial decrease in rainfall, water cycle disruption, dried up springs, more frequent landslides and water, a genuine “need” being abnormally patterned.

In a nutshell, my heart is sinking and my brain is confused. As I mentioned, this is what I consider as close to utopia as I have seen. What is really “improving the quality of life” that science and technology is seeking to do? in a century where leadership is all about empowering and helping others, what can we do for these people? I would like to think it is preservation but many are choosing to leave for the superficial quality in the cities. What really is “helping”? Most importantly, what can I do for such communities that I so heartily wish would remain? These questions are yet unanswered but the experience here has certainly changed my life. Most significantly, thinking I may give up what I have to live in a similar environment.

 

 
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SUMMER: Sikkim

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Finding Two Mice

Justin,SUMMER: Sikkim

Description

  “Travel is the oldest human impulse” declared by in Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna in The Age of Discovery. The book illustrates travel literally, with maps, ships, and planes with numerous historical breakthroughs. I believe travel can also be used figuratively. The physical travel has brought our group to the fascinating community of Lepchas […]

Posted On

07/24/17

Author

Justin

Category

SUMMER: Sikkim

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    [post_date] => 2017-07-23 08:07:39
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    [post_content] => Namaste Friends and Family,

Our group has the wonderful honor of hosting our lovely homestay families for dinner this evening.  We have been so embraced by this community and will celebrate the time that we spent together.

Tomorrow we leave early for Siliguire to start the final phase of our course - Transference.  During this time we will reflect back on our time together here in India, revisit our goals and establish new ones for our return home, as well as celebrate and acknowledge this rite of passage.

It is hard to believe that you will be welcoming your son or daughter home soon.  Trust that we are all enjoying our final days together!
    [post_title] => Goodbye and Thank you Sittong
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SUMMER: Sikkim

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Goodbye and Thank you Sittong

Instructor Team,SUMMER: Sikkim

Description

Namaste Friends and Family, Our group has the wonderful honor of hosting our lovely homestay families for dinner this evening.  We have been so embraced by this community and will celebrate the time that we spent together. Tomorrow we leave early for Siliguire to start the final phase of our course – Transference.  During this […]

Posted On

07/23/17

Author

Instructor Team

Category

SUMMER: Sikkim

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    [post_date] => 2017-07-21 11:47:39
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Dear Summer 2017 Sikkim Student Families,
It is hard to believe that almost 4 weeks have already passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long before students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival!
Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families (all times are in local time zones):
Thursday, July 27th, 2017
 
Etihad Airways Flight # 255
Depart: Kolkata @ 9:00 PM
Arrive: Abu Dhabi @ 12:45 AM
 
Friday, July 28th, 2017
 
Etihad Airways Flight #103
Depart: Abu Dhabi @ 3:35 AM
Arrive: New York - JFK @ 9:40 AM
We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day. Should you need any assistance after regular office hours, please call our “on-call” number at 303-921-6078.
We wish all students a great trip home!
Sincerely,
Boulder Admin
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SUMMER: Sikkim

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July 28th Group Return Details & Reminders!

Eva Vanek,SUMMER: Sikkim

Description

Dear Summer 2017 Sikkim Student Families, It is hard to believe that almost 4 weeks have already passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long before students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Below is a reminder of the return group flight […]

Posted On

07/21/17

Author

Eva Vanek

Category

SUMMER: Sikkim

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    [post_date] => 2017-07-20 14:17:53
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    [post_content] => Dear Friends and Family,

I had a lovely conversation with the Instructor team this morning, as they were wrapping up another full day in Sittong.  They spoke to how impressed they were with the group today and their devotion to working hard to help their families and the other villagers.  Despite the monsoon rains, students spent the morning helping in the field and then made their way into the surrounding forest to gather firewood.  In the afternoon, they dedicated more hours to their kukuri (metal knife) making project before slaughtering a chicken for the barbecue they had planned for the evening.

The instructors spoke to the profound response many students had to slaughtering a chicken and the rich conversation that followed.  It was an activity that really got students thinking about their sources of food and their relationships with what they eat.

Tomorrow the group will head off on a long day hike to a nearby lake - spending about 8 hours on trail.  On Sunday they will spend the day with their homestay families, because the following day they head to the town of Mirik to begin their final Transference Phase before returning home.   It is hard to believe that the course is wrapping up so soon!

We hope this note finds you well.

 
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SUMMER: Sikkim

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Sittong update

Shannon Harriman,SUMMER: Sikkim

Description

Dear Friends and Family, I had a lovely conversation with the Instructor team this morning, as they were wrapping up another full day in Sittong.  They spoke to how impressed they were with the group today and their devotion to working hard to help their families and the other villagers.  Despite the monsoon rains, students […]

Posted On

07/20/17

Author

Shannon Harriman

Category

SUMMER: Sikkim

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