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India: Himalayas to the Ganges River

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Expedition Phase!

Instructors, Instructor

It’s an exciting time here in Varanasi. As we write at 5:00am, in our program house for the last time, our students are milling about, grabbing their things, making sure we haven’t forgotten anything, and heading out the door to travel......Read More

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Singa

Sam Speight, Participant

The gate opens slowly as not to disturb the black mountain. The birds on the mountain start to fly away cause of the impending encounter. The rivers that run down the mountain become a clear brown and raise. The roots of the mountain start to rise......Read More

WTBD Yaks from India

India: Himalayas to the Ganges River

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ISP Presentations

Marka, Participant

Hello family and friends! I’m writing from the Sparrow Café, where we are all tucked into a tiny back room on floor cushions. Everyone’s bag is open in front of them, with our notebooks turned to summary sheets and art projects ready to......Read More

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Weekend in the Village!

Instructors, Instructor

Dear friends, family, well-wishers, and fans, We have just returned from a short, two-day, visit to Saurabh’s village, Mudahua, a few hours outside of Varanasi city. We spent our time there wandering through village paths and rice paddies,......Read More

WTBD Yaks from India

India: Himalayas to the Ganges River

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Reflections on Bodh Gaya

Marka, Participant

Lama Tsering sits across the table from me, sipping a cup of chai. I haven’t touched mine yet — perpetually afraid I’ll burn my tongue, I always let it cool for way too long first, then try my best to avoid drinking the skin that......Read More

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The Melody of Laundry

Julia Long, Participant

The first sound I hear after I wake up, besides the incessant trill of my 6:00 alarm, is the laundry man. Sound is a constant in Varanasi: the honking of motorcycles and rickshaws; the mooing of the street cows; the denizens of this gloriously noisy......Read More

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Back in Varanasi!

Instructors, Instructor

Dear family, friends, and followers of our adventures, We are back from our retreat in Bodh Gaya, Bihar for our final, and action-packed 11 days in Varanasi. We have Dev Diwali, the biggest holiday celebrated in the city, to look forward to, which......Read More

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Buddhism retreat in Bodh Gaya

Instructors, Instructor

Picture of the Week

Dear friends and family, We write to you from Bodh Gaya in Bihar where we arrived yesterday to embark on a 5 day inward journey and an exploration of Buddhism. Noble silence, dharma talks, meditation, as well as passionate discussions fill our days. Today we visited the Mahabodhi Temple Complex, housing the bodhi tree under which the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, and walked in the footsteps of pilgrims who have been visiting this site for over two millennia. We watched the sun set behind the shikhara towers and paint the sky in a saffron hue matching the… Read More

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Learning Hindi

Marka, Participant

Sitting on the floor, I balance my notebook on my knee. Together, we read a list of nouns and their plurals: larki, larkiya; larka, larke. Girl, girls, boy, boys. Our teacher, Binit ji, taps the whiteboard with his marker, adding percussion to our......Read More

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No Books Allowed in the Library

Sophie H and Isabel K, Participant

This past Saturday, Isabel and I (or Sophie and I, depending on who you are picturing reading this story) took a trip to the Banaras Hindu University library. After another long week of chaos, rickshaw rides, and deep fried sandwiches for breakfast,......Read More

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Guru Rinpoche

Sam Speight, Participant

Picture of the Week

The morning hike to the Kongmaru La pass was a long and tough day. The whole group was up to the task, but that didn’t make it any less painful and tiring. The reward for completing the trek was being able to see the  beautiful statue of Guru Rinpoche. The statue was no bigger than 6 feet tall and surrounded by a small half frozen lake. This area that we had hiked to was where the second Buddha reached enlightenment and gained self control. The whole area was representative of the group at the time. The frozen part of the… Read More

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Getting Ready for Diwali

Instructors, Instructor

Over the past week we have been settling more deeply into our lives and new families here in Varanasi and deepening our studies of this incredible place, with focuses on Islam, Hinduism and the caste system, and women’s health in India. What......Read More

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Halloween Haunts

Isabel A. Kulko, Participant

Since this Halloween we are in the City of Light, Might, and Death, we thought it would be only appropriate to post a Yak about the spooky happenings in Varanasi. Happy Halloween! Sophie: When you’re walking down the street and have to decide......Read More

WTBD Yaks from India

India: Himalayas to the Ganges River

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A week with my host family

Kate Middleton, Participant

My host mom is talking to my host dad in the kitchen. From my room I hear her start to laugh and can’t help but smile. I love her laugh–it comes from her belly and spreads to her eyes– and is absolutely contagious. I have been with......Read More

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Checking in from Varanasi

Instructors, Instructor

Dear friends and family back home, Time has been flying for us, and we have already passed our first week here in the holy city of Varanasi. The group has spent time touring historical and religious sites, taking an early morning boat ride on the......Read More