Tashi-delek, lobtruk (Tibetan for Hello students)!
You’ve already done the hard part and decided to go on an adventure into the Himalayas, all that’s left is to get excited! I’m writing to you guys from Cleveland Ohio. Though the weather is gray, it cannot suppress my excitement to return to Asia with all of you! My name is Alena or in Tibetan- Karma Yeshe Choeden (which means the light of devotion to wisdom). I was brought to Asia back in 2010 when I first visited Thailand. That trip inspired me to return, which I did when I moved to Nepal after graduating high school. I spent two and a half years (mostly in Nepal) before starting university in the USA. I wanted to discover more about the world and the people that are in it.
My time is Nepal changed my life and Nepal has become my other home. During my time there I volunteered as a social worker in the city, explored the Annapurna Mountains, ate a lot of food, drank even more tea, dove into the culture, and spent the majority of my time living in a Buddhist monastery. What had started as teaching English, evolved into studying Tibetan & Buddhism, attending pujas (prayer ceremonies), learning meditation and studying religious text. I studied the history of the Tibetan people, current events, politics of Asia, and became interested in activism. After having lived in the US and Finland, I found my new life to be the complete opposite of what I had known.
I returned to the States and received a double degree in International Relations and Linguists with a minor in Anthropology and concentration in Eastern Asian Studies. Aside from that, I worked on personal research that explores human rights to native/minority and indigenous groups. I continued my Tibetan language studies at the Esukhia University the school of Tibetan language/cultural preservation in Mcleodganj, India. This trip was particularly incredible as I was able to attend four of the Dalai Lama’s teachings. I have been back and forth more times than I can count and have an unconditional love for the place and people.
Besides Nepal and India I have traveled around the world for research and to work for other student travel organizations. All of those experiences led me here, and I couldn’t be more excited to going with you all to a culture that is so dear to me. In less than a month I will be with united with Uttara and Hemant in California, and then off to Himalayas!
Kah-leh phe (carefully go)