Monday, July 12, 2010

Cultural Immersion

A small village, Napa Village, at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains. Tibetan style homes stand along the lake. Pigs, cows, and yaks roam about making it quite obvious that this is a farming village. The people here are very poor and live harsh lives. This was home for three nights for Brianna and the other students in her group. They lived the lives of the Napa people. They stayed in groups of five, with different families in this small rural village, eating every meal with them. During the day they worked with local builders to help build two recycling centers and ultimately completed experience I'm sure was quite rewarding. Here is an excerpt from the parent Travel Log:

"We’re on Day 2 of our village stay in Napa village. We have completed the foundation and the first few layers of bricks on both of our recycling centers here that we have constructed. Yesterday was an awesome day; we had great weather and everyone worked together really well. We finished off the afternoon by playing soccer and a few group games together, and then we went back to our individual homestay homes. We then all met back together later on that evening for a dance where we learned a bunch of Chinese and Tibetan traditional dances as a big group, which was a lot of fun!"

After many days of waiting for some kind of word from Brianna, I finally got an email from her yesterday after she returned to Shangri la. It's a special kind of excitement I feel when I see I've gotten an email, a text, or a phone call from her and boy was I excited to see her email! She said that it was "cool" and "awesome" being able to stay with the family in the village. She also made a couple of comments that make me believe she's liking the accommodations much better at the hotels she been at! Comments about things like bugs....lots of bugs, and not being able to take a shower....for many more days than she'd like! Like I said, they lived the lives of the people of Napa Village....I think it just may be a little different than here. She was very happy to be back in Shangri la where she says it's "nice", and "cute". She's still enjoying her group very much. She said that it's been very easy to make friends with the people in her group and she loves them. So far that comment has given me the most comfort :)

The group left Napa Village yesterday and headed to Tibet, the "roof of the world"! There they were greeted with traditional white scarves by their guide Tenzan. These white scarves, Khata, are given as a sign of respect, good will, and compassion. They then headed to their hotel in Lhasa where they got a much welcomed opportunity to do laundry!

As I write this, it is now morning in Tibet. Today the group will be beginning their community service work at the Jatson Chumig School and Orphanage. They will spend the next three days working with the children there. This is the service project I've been most excited about, and I know that Brianna has been really looking forward to it too. Although it is not the orphanage that Owen spent almost two years in, I'm sure it will give her a glimpse into the life he had before coming home. Brianna and Owen already share a special bond, and something tells me that this experience will do nothing but strengthen that bond. I CAN NOT wait to hear about her day! I know that while part of what she does will be teaching English to the children, the lessons she will learn from these children will be far numerous and far greater than any amount of English she will teach them.

No comments: