Namaste Future Dragons,
I am Arvin, one of your three instructors in the upcoming Himalayan Studies Semester. In just one month’s time we will be face to face in Kathmandu. As I write this letter, in the misty hills of Mussoorie, surrounded by rhododendron and pine, I’m reminded of the anticipation that comes before all great adventures, no matter your experience or motivations for joining. I hope, like me, you get a big grin on your face when you think about it.
There are so many reasons to be excited for Nepal, and for this group of like-minded travellers. Nepal is, in a few ways, my professional birthplace: the first time I led an expedition in the mountains was the Annapurnas. I was awestruck. I have been back six times, and it is home to many good friends. It is interesting that this, my first Dragon’s course, should also be in Nepal.
Our impulse to explore is inseparable from our locus of origin, but it is often difficult to answer the question, “Where do you come from?” As an educator I am excited to know your stories, and play a part in them. My journey to Nepal, and to Dragons, was circuitous: my grandparents are from Afghanistan and India, I was born in Thailand, spent my adolescence in Hong Kong and Singapore, studied economics in England, worked in Germany (where I left my hair) and then finally, miraculously, ended up in India where for the past 7 years I taught incredible young people committed to making our future more peaceful and sustainable. I have also been wondering all this time if, actually, I am Indian, and what that means. I suspect the truth is that many of us are travellers, dreamers, and vagabonds, no matter where we go or what our passports say. That is our fate and unique privilege.
Looking forward to it all,