Friday July 14, 2018
We all made it!
Namaste! Namaste is the word to say hello in Hindi. Today, after eating plentiful amounts of peanut butter and plum jellied toast, we learned many helpful phrases in Hindi. Little did we know we would need these phrases down in the market a little more than a mile away.
At the market, the ladies were happy to stop by a clothing store to buy traditional indian clothing such as saris and suits in all different colors. Once they had one picked a fancy fabric, they walked across the street to get measurements taken of themselves.
When all that was over, everyone got to explore the market a little more before heading back to home base on a long, and once again steep hike. After about an hour of resting time and showering, everyone sat down for a dinner of pasta, garlic bread, and green beans. A group circle commenced for the official itinerary overview and the final health checks. Finally, everyone was off to their rooms for a peaceful night of rest. Shubh ratri!
-by Addie V by Fiona Jerman
Sunday July 15, 2018
After an incredible breakfast consiting of boiled eggs and toast, we trecked to the Dalai Lama’s temple where we not only learned about the history and struggles of Tibetan refugees but also about the origin of the Dalai Lama and his teachings. Then, we journeyed to a Buddhist temple to perform a kora, a walking circumbulation around a sacred site. On the way to the temple, we witnessed the beautiful scenery of Dharamasla and stopped by a memorial of those who have self-immulated in protest of Chinese oppression. After the kora, we all went on a shopping spree and almost got killed by a couple monkeys (pro tip: don’t smile at the monkeys…also, don’t try to get pictures #rabiesfree), then we returned to home base where we rested for a short period before eating a wonderful dinner, consisting of rice, roasted potatoes, chick pea curry, and chapati. Later, we had our first photojournalism session where we learned about the history of photography. Then we concluded with a team building exercise and an introduction to mentor group’s.
Tomorrow, we’ll the visit the areas we’ll be teaching children and beautifying daycare facilities.
– Eddie & Shanti
Monday July 16, 2018
Today was another fun and exciting day spent in Dharamsala, India. After starting the morning with a delicious breakfast consisting of French toast and eggs, we headed off to a tour of the placements. Although it was a four mile trek in total, and parts of it were quite grueling, we enjoyed visiting the placements so much that our imaginations began to spark about the projects we would be doing there. Adding to our excitement was being able to meet, play with and take pictures with the cute little kids that we were excited to get to know better.
Along the way back to homebase, we stopped to take pictures for our photography assignment which was one close-up and one landscape picture. By the time we made it back to Clouds End Villa, all of us were so famished that we were ecstatic to hear that there was an amazing lunch set out for us. Burrito-like rolls with a curry twist, french fries, and lassi turned out to be many people’s favorite meal up to that point . Afterwards we went to our second photojournalism session of the trip where Aavrit taught us everything we need to know about aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Continuing on after a thirty minute break, we assembled with our mentor groups during which we shared a story of a hardship we’ve overcome. Let’s just say tears were shed. Lots of them.
After that amazing bonding experience, we met with our placement groups and started to chart our project plans and the materials needed for them. Then it was dinner time!
After enjoying rice, potatoes, and lentils, we followed with post-dinner activities that were both serious and enjoyable. Starting with a discussion given by Chris about the ethics of photography and volunteerism, we then had an insightful conversation reflecting on the intentions of certain photographs and the ways we should use them to tell a story.
Ending the night with an awesome and entertaining activity put on by group leaders, Naomi and Maddie, we played an interesting game in which the whole group was split into four teams and in each round the groups would be given a category and a letter (ex: food and E). They then were tasked with writing down as many things as they could think of that fit that category and also started with that letter. The group who had the most items written down won the round. After five intense rounds, group three won!
Day four was a success!
Naomi Deokule (author)
Maddie (Madeleine) Hay
Tuesday July 17, 2018
After Nelson burnt his tongue on steaming hot chai and Christian, along with the rest of the gang, started our day with a delicious breakfast prepared by Ponku and Amet, we headed out to our first day of placements. Anganwadis (government-funded daycares) are where we were to start work straight away as we began to sand down walls in order to prepare them to paint. When we needed a break, we played with the young children at those daycares. After a short break and some lunch, we went to the Norbulingka Institute. A place where the Tibetan culture is saved through arts. It was eye opening to see how hard they work and how intricate that work is. Something we never would have thought about if only seeing the final product. After touring around, grabbing a quick snack and taking some wild portraits of Lit (one of our local team leaders), we headed back to homebase for dinner, a photojournalism lesson and a game of chair basketball that would make Olympians sweat.
Nelson & Christian
*Photos for July 17 by Aavrit Bagga (Photographer – Local Program Staff)
Wednesday July 18, 2018
Of the two of us, Haley was among the lucky ones still waking up at 6:30 AM from the time change while Angelina (and most of the rest) collectively groaned at the 6:15 AM wakeup call (or knock) we were in charge of getting done. Well….maybe not quite so long of a groan for Alex and Haley as the two of us got an early morning giggle when one of the wakeup calls resulted in Shanti, one of the boys from our program, opening the door with a comically aggravated face.
Eating a basic breakfast while half asleep at 6:45 AM, we made our way in the early morning sunlight through the sometimes challenging incline and decline of streets and stairs to the Men Tsee Kang Monastery. Once there and, after having removed our shoes and filled into a room covered in foam mats, we expected to be led in a soothing morning meditation. What we got instead was a PowerPoint presentation and monk in front of a microphone. Our expected morning of tranquility in this beautiful little town built into a Himalayan mountainside turned into a long hour of trying to pay attention to a presentation on what we thought we’d be doing instead of actually doing it. But hey – at least we’re now trained to lead sessions with our family and friends when we get back home, right?
After our “meditation session”, we walked to our placements where we teach and play with local children while at the same time beautifying (painting, decorating, etc.) their schools. After that, we walked back to Clouds End Villa, our home here in India, for a lunch of delicious grilled cheese and fried rice followed by turning in our pulse checks about the GLA program before a little midday free fime.
Coming back to the main hall after hanging out all over the lush tropical grounds and giggling at Teddy, one of the Jack Russell Terriers that belongs to the king who has so generously allowed us to stay here, we listened to a lecture given by photographer Ashwini Bhatia who talked about and showed us his recent work and discussed the ethics of photojournalism.
Following a smaller dinner later that night, we had a photojournalism lesson by the photographer who is part of our leadership team, Avi, where we discussed editing our photographs and putting together our own portfolios. Finishing off the night with a successful and fun game joined in on by Prince Bambi (short for Ambi which is short for Ambikeshwar), the grandson of Raja Aditya, the fireflies told us that it was time for lights out at 10 PM.
Sweet dreams, from India,
-Haley & Angelina
*Photos for July 18 by Robin Satterwhite (GLA Mentor)
Thursday July 19, 2018
Today started just like any other day at GLA. We all woke up at 8:30 in the morning to get ready followed by eating breakfast while being told what we would be doing for the day. From there we went to our placements where we remodeled the preschool we were at while at the same time teaching and playing with the kids like we do almost every day. Making our way back to Clouds End for lunch, our next outing took us to Dolls For Tibet. None of us knew or were excited about what to expect when we got there though, upon arrival, most of us were pretty pleasantly surprised.
The dolls were adorable. Not only that but they were also all handmade. The woman who owned the business had started it for the Tibetan people, all refugees, including her artist husband. Over time Indians have also started working there more but she still has a heart for the Tibetan people so some of the dolls still go to Tibetan children. We all enjoyed the dolls and her story about how her business came to be.
We believed it to be very touching and we all bought something from her store, all of us satisfied with our purchase. So back to base we all went from there to have a little relax time before our dinner. Well, maybe not all as some of the girls and guys walked down to the Kotwili Bazaar to pick up the saris they had gotten tailored a couple days before. Then it was finally dinner time, so we ate our dinner while remenicing about the days events. After that it was lights out and another exquisite day at GLA was done.
Leaders of the Day:
Violet (author) & Lauren
*Photos by Robin Satterwhite (GLA Mentor)
Friday July 20, 2018
Hello, my name is Jeremy and my partner for Leader of the Day is Emma. Today is July 20th and it’s Friday. We woke up at our normal time today, 8:30 AM, and we had our typical breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, toast and a couple extras. When the coveted peanut butter went too-soon empty we were all sad but managed to keep on nevertheless. At 9:45 AM, we headed to our placements. I would tell you the name of mine but I can’t spell it and it would just be jumbled letters to you.
At my placement, we are busy giving our daycare center a new coat of paint. While painting, I also had about five children hanging off me, who all wanted piggyback rides. With an aching back and a little elbow grease, we managed to finish the first coat of paint.
When time to leave, we were tired and it was raining so we opted to take taxis home instead of walking. When we returned, we went on the most beautiful and extravagant sun-not-even-close-to-setting sunset photoshoot ever. Upon our return from there, we ate our typical banquet-style meal and watched a short show about a photographer followed by an attempt to watch the documentary movie: when Hari Got Married about a cab driver’s arranged marriage, though we were all very tired so most of us (including me) left to go to sleep before the end. With another great day at our backs, we rested well for the day next.
Sunday July 22, 2018
A late wake-up at 8:45 started off our 10th day of adventure. We continued the morning with our breakfast staples of toast, eggs, bananas, and chai tea. Next on the schedule was a visit to a local family farm. We got to see, taste, and smell produce growing on this farm. Lunch was served there after some rejuvenating hibiscus lemon tea followed by a warm custard with ice cream!
A fun and rainy ride back to homebase provided a stop for the few who wanted to stop for snacks. (Tim has good taste in music!) After some downtime, dinner was next and always one of the best parts of the day. Later we had the option to go see Skyscraper at the movies. Surely something not to miss and turned out to be more of a cultural expecience than expected in ways such as the #rodwytibetans cheering from the row behind us.
Our typical 10pm cerfew for lights out ran just a little late thanks to our time of return and we were all ready to crawl into our beds as soon as we got “home”, time to get rested and ready for our next day of adventure.
-Blog by Kirsten and Violet
-Photos by Robin Satterwhite
Today we enjoyed our usual breakfast of toast, eggs and delicious chai (with some extras) followed by taking our long daily walk to placements. Once there, we played with children while getting our arms pulled, cheeks pinched and hair braided. Too lazy to walk back, we treated ourselves to a nice taxi ride to home base where lunch was waiting for us. After some free time, we pooled into taxis and drove past Mcleod Gange Market to see the beautiful Bagsu Falls waterfall.
Some of us opted to journey up the waterfall, a hike not everyone felt inclined to take but rather enjoy some internet time while snacking on lemon cake, noodles and strawberry smoothies that tasted like Danimals yogurt at a local cafe. Many of us bargained our way through the market from there, filling our bags with colorful pants and other souvaneers while a few stayed in the German Bakery Restaurant Coffee Bar until it was time to pile back into taxis. Once again back to home base and after some free time, we ate the baseline rice and lentils (plus a few extras) for dinner.
Mentor groups came next. Robin’s mentor group discussed various circumstances of the trip, giving each person a chance to speak, while Tim’s mentor group read a story about a man who planted one hundred trees a day for thirty-seven years after losing his family. A story to teach and inspire about being model citizens. To end the night, we played a Leader of the Day throwback game lead by us of heads-up-seven-up. A game most frequently played in elementary school.
Before bed we had some free time to sit in our rooms, hang in the garden, socialize and listen to music on the patio. Lights went out at 10 PM to regain our energy for more wonderful days in India.
The journey continues…
Written by Leaders of the Day:
Addison & Natalie
Photos by Robin Satterwhite 🐦
Also, here are some more photos from earlier in the trip that we were unable to send due to internet connectivity issues:
-Photos by Robin Satterwhite