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Photo by Kendall Marianacci, Nepal Semester.

A Tentative Itinerary

Welcome to our Himalayan Studies B Fall 2017 Program! aka Team B-eautiful

In a few weeks you shall be in one of the most blessed and majestic lands that is going to put an indelible mark on your life, consciousness and memories. We the I-team and the admin have been working to design a course that is profoundly meaningful, full of wisdom, challenging and fun!

Our journey will be strung in three core values we strive to incorporate in each of our courses here at WTBD : Global Citizenship, Awareness of Self and Leadership. These three core values work as anchors and sails to guide the course towards the most meaningful experience for us all. Additionally our semester in Nepal will move through a progression of three phases:
Preparation and Skill Acquisition, where we set intentions for our course, develop skills so we can learn and thrive in Nepal, and build a strong, cohesive group; Experience and Practice, where we continue to develop these skills and put them into action, enabling us to connect deeper with the local community and continue to reflect on our personal and group intentions, and Expedition and Transference, where the students (you!) take more ownership for your learning experience, have increased leadership responsibilities, and put your skills into practice.

Please do keep in mind that this a tentative itinerary and will involve change in plans. A meaningful journey is abundant in spontaneity, surprises and challenges. We trust that you will come with an open mind and an open heart to embrace the change. In these courses we intentionally leave some room for efforts to incorporate your aspirations, abilities and goals to the highest level without straying away from our core values. As much as we give our best in planning, it is intentionally a work in progress.
So without further adieu, here’s the tentative outline for our time in Nepal.

Week 1 – Orientation at Dhulikel : As you arrive on the 16th Sept your I team will be welcoming you in Nepal and we will then drive to Dhulikhel, a historical hill station town in the east of Kathmandu. Here at the Dhulikhel resort, we’ll recover from our long journey, start to learn about Nepal (including some language lessons and cultural introductions), and get to know one another through orientation activities, discussions and time together to explore and play.

Dhulikhel with it’s serene surroundings, thriving nature and vibrant culture will give us plenty of chances to explore and immerse in the diversity of culture and its powerful expression.

Week 2 – Following our time at orientation we shall venture into the surrounding mountains of Kathmandu for a mini trek through sprawling forests graced with wonderful view of the Himalayas. A time to stretch our vision and our physical limits we hike from morning to evenings with periodic quick rests.

Our mini trek will meander to Namo Buddha Gonpa, a monastery/university dedicated to the study and practice of Vajrayana Buddhism. It is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites in Nepal. At the monastery we will dive into the world of Buddhism, eating and praying amongst members of monastery, learning about Dharma from Buddhist scholars and taking plenty of time to sow the seeds for reflection and practice of Dharma teachings in our lives.

Week 3 – 6 Patan Homestay : Welcome to Patan !! A medieval city with breathtakingly intricate heritage and history that has been in practice through centuries. You will be living with families indigenous to Patan whose members are inseparable parts of its heritage. Patan is a city of artisans, a city of devotees, a city of ancient spirit in modern world. A cultural capital of Nepal, we will spend our time here diving into our independent study Projects with mentors, honing/practicing our Nepali language skills and exploring different pertinent topics with the group and with expert guest presenters.

Our schedule at Patan roughly shall look like follows.
Monday through Friday, you will arrive in the morning to our awesome Program House for optional yoga and/or meditation, breakfast, Nepali language lessons, a guest speaker or an instructor or student-led discussion, followed by lunch together. Afternoons will be dedicated to your ISPs, a project where each of you will delve into an aspect of the culture that most interests you. Past students have done projects ranging from artisanal handicrafts, traditional paintings, religious practices, music, and dance. If you want, you can choose a research-based internship. We’re here to help you find a mentor and resources according to your interests and passions to make this learning experience come alive!

In the weekends you will be spending time with your Homestay families and exploring the surrounding places through student led excursion trips which provide incredible tools to sharpen your leadership and navigation skills.
Over the course of our Patan HS we will take occasional getaways to interesting places nearby.

We are extremely fortunate to have the chance to celebrate the biggest festival in Nepal, Dashain – a festival commemorating goddess Durga’a victory over evil forces, with our Homestay community in Patan. This festival which stretches over a week and half will give a wonderful insight to the Nepali culture at its grandeur. In our final week in Kathmandu, we will wrap up our ISP’s, prepare for our ISP presentations, and host a big gratitude party for our homestay families and ISP mentors.

Wow!!!… We have come midway of the course and we need to celebrate, reflect and reinvigorate ourselves for the rest of the journey through a mid-course retreat. This also coincides with Tihar, a festival of lights and the second biggest festival after Dashain.

Week 7, 8 – Trek : It’s the Himalayas calling!!  Following our Homestay in Patan, we will venture deep into the majestic Himalayas for a trek through rugged terrain as an expedition team. With unbeatable views and warm company of the friends in these mountains, we’ll learn about expedition behavior, rural Himalayan culture, and be physically challenged even as we bond over games and shared cups of tea. The trek will challenge us on many levels but will be a wonderful tool to understand ourselves and others to create a compassionate and responsible unit of travellers to move these lands with humility, integrity and grace.

Week 9 – 11 Our trek will then lead towards our rural Homestay where we will live with our host families experiencing authentic rural village culture and being a part of a village life! We will spend hours each day engaging with our families from harvesting crops to feeding cattle to carrying firewood, sipping tea on the porch, playing with our Homestay siblings etc.
We will also discuss issues of service, development, rural identity, and spirituality. The language skills that we have acquired over the semester will be very useful during this time as we interact with our home-stay families and members of the community!

Week 12 – Transference – The last week of our course will be dedicated in celebrating our journey, our accomplishments, the bonds and the moments that we shared as we prepare ourselves for the journey back home.
We head to Kathmandu to say our final goodbyes and hugs.
December 6 : Departure.

Wow !! … That was a lot of information to take in. But we hope that it was helpful to answer some of your questions. Don’t worry, we will go over it again once we meet. For now give yourself some time to go through the resources sent to you from WTBD.

Over the next two couple weeks, one of your instructors will try to schedule a Skype or a phone call to hear from you and answer any queries about this course and preparation. Please do check your emails and let them know the time that suits best for you.

And!! … Please post your introductions on the Yak board. It’s a wonderful way to know the community. We at Dragons LOVE the Yak board.
Tell us a little about yourself – What are you excited about? What are you passionate about in life? How are you spending these final weeks
prior to our departure?

Pleas keep checking the Yak board for updates and additional information. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us anytime.