Tomorrow morning will be the second night in a row that we will rise at 3:15 am, shoulder our heavy bags, and head into new territory. The location may be new, yes, but now we can mentally say: we have been here before.
Our group just finished what we call “X-Phase,” or Expedition Phase. This is a part of the course when students take over; they design an itinerary that reflects their interests and wants, as well as the needs of the group and individuals. Students step into designated roles, but also learn how to assume other leadership roles as well. It is a time when they really come to have agency over their course, and to gain a deeper understanding about the intricacies of running a program in India.
Around three weeks ago the Instructor Team told the students we would be spending our X-Phase time in Rishikesh and Haridwar, two cities based in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. These cities sit farther north on the Ganges, and are popular with both domestic and international travelers. With the location set, students then set about designating roles and planning a five-day itinerary, which included a hike to a waterfall, temple visits, classes on self-awareness, and downtime.
We do not want to spoil the stories of these specific adventures yet, so keep on the look out for student posts about them soon.
What we do want to share, though, is respect we have for our group, having just come off of this week-long journey. Our group of eleven completed this challenge with curiosity, compassion, and chutzpah. They supported one another during moments of challenge; they offered transparent feedback during moments of confusion; they celebrated one another during moments of excitement; and they showed that they have a true sense of awareness about how they interact with one another, and the broader community, as travelers and visitors in a new place.
Tomorrow we fly from Delhi to Ladakh, where we will spend the remaining month of our time together. This month will be a marked change from the past two; we will rest physically and mentally, and will be surrounded by a very different physical and human landscape from what we have seen thus far. We will begin our time in a meditation retreat and then will move into an immersion program at a local school, rural home-stays, and a trek. While the pace of the course may be slowing, the energy and tenacity of the group only continues to grow.
We will have minimal internet access, so please understand if our updates come in slowly. For now, be rest assured that we are setting off into unfamiliar territory with a new-found sense of confidence and awareness. We go into the mountains bathed in the light of learning and appreciation.