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Hello, julley, namaste!

Dearest fellow adventurers,

I can hardly wait for all of us to be sitting together under fluttering prayer flags in the Himalaya! I imagine that you are each readying to embark on this journey in your different ways. For me, over many travels, sitting down to wax my hiking boots and reformat my memory cards has become a special ritual that stirs up an unmistakable mix of emotions. A beginning. I love these moments brimming full of possibility and hope that you too may notice and feel the magic that turns the ordinary into ceremony in the weeks, days, and hours before you journey to join us in India!

I first moved to India in 2013 to engage – for what was supposed to be one year – with the complexities of change in the world’s largest democracy, a place where deep traditions meet and coexist with the forces of globalization. Five years later, I call the Himalayan foothills home and speak about my experiences with even more enthrallment. I am grateful and excited to accompany you on a world-expanding and transformative experience over the next few months! I am fortunate to have had conduits into India’s local cultures in my Punjabi Sikh in-laws, the womenfolk of villages in Maharashtra, and my friends from the jungles of Karnataka and Goa to the hills of Himachal and Kashmir. Through these engagements, I have come to appreciate the multiplicity of India that awaits us, and I wish for us all the humility to listen and understand, and the courage to allow ourselves to unlearn and grow.

The banks of Ganga and the peaks of Ladakh are a long way from the small corner in the south of Macedonia where I spent my childhood. A few days after my 15th birthday, I left home in a cargo van carrying my piano and little else, blasting a mixtape my sisters had made, and interchangeably holding back tears and massively grinning. I have spent the past 15 years in relentless pursuit of an education and adventure across 4 continents (the piano did not come with), leaning into the delight and discomfort of better. India is where that journey slowed down, and I am oh so thankful for every light and serendipitous stumble that led me here.

As we walk on this land and move among those who keep the memory of ancient wisdom alive today in their cultures, languages, practices, and traditions, it behooves us to pay attention to these different ways of being and living. The young traveler who encounters cultural difference with intention may see beyond culture as decorative and may use that experience (in the words of one of my anthropological foremothers), « to make the world safe for human differences ». The urgent challenges of the 21st Century are stubborn and extremely divisive. It is my hope that on this journey will become inspired and empowered to find your agency in the narrative of global citizenship.

I am thrilled to meet you soon and curious to get to know you.

With all the stoke of an adventure unfolding,

MJ

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