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A sadu sitting along the ghats of the Ganges River. Photo by Jen Goings, India Semester.

Goodbye, Dharamshala

Hello, Parents and Friends:

This is a transition day for us as he leave the town of McLeod Ganj and move to our final segment in Bir and Deer Park Institute. Yesterday we visited the Tibetan library and archives and had a memorable audience with the former assistant to the Dalai Lama and the present director of the library. He almost seemed to be “channeling” the wisdom of His Holiness as he spoke to us of the “lunacy” taking place in some parts of the world where happiness and compassion seem to have been forgotten. He revealed a simple, common-sense vision of life as the students and leaders asked probing questions. Following our return to our “neighborhood,” groups split up and went to lunch. When we returned to “base camp” students realized that the leaders had manipulated the experience so that two groups ate a rather luxurious lunch, while two other groups had to make do with a meager sum and a simple meal. This led to an activity about privilege that resulted in some compelling discoveries. We had our third and last opportunity to have “rooftop” English conversations with a group of monks seeking to better their skills. This has proven to be one of the students’ favorite activities, as our new friends not only showed commendable skills but shared lots of fun facts about their lives. The final gathering of the day included all the host families. Tea and biscuits preceded a ritual thank you that included presenting white scarves to the “mom” as a gesture of gratitude.

So, after breakfast, we head down the hill to Dharamshala proper and then on to Bir, where we will engage for four days in reflective activities, workshops, meditation, and maybe even some field work with the local citizens there. No doubt the students will be eager to post their reflections as we engage in our final series of activities in India. Stay tuned!