Once upon a time, 9 students and 2 educators went to India. They did many fun and exciting new things, but eventually they ended up in the cool little town of McLeod Ganj.
McLeod Ganj is home to a large population of Tibetian refugees, and the mixture of Indian and Tibetian culture is prominent and interesting. On nearly every street, there are stands selling scarfs, jewelry, momos, or sweets.
Unfortunately, during our departure from Dharmalaya, Sea was running around in excitement, slipped on the stairs, and broke her foot. She was not fazed, and continues to adventure with her cane, or on the backs of her friends.
On the first day, we took a trip to visit the temple of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama Temple is relatively new, and was built in 1989, and because of this, there was a great contrast from other ancient buddhist temples we had visited previously. The Dalai Lama was away, so we did not get a chance to meet him.
The following day was the first of our English conversation classes with Tibetan monks and refugees. We met them at the Tibetan Hope Center, and exchanged stories, experiences, and opinions. We were given topics to discuss, and at the end we would share with the group. The monks and other refugees were so excited to have us, and much laughter and many smiles were shared.
Afterwards, we went upstairs to a cafe and watched Tibet’s Cry for Freedom, a documentary on the Tibetan Freedom Struggle. It highlighted the unfair ways Tibetans living in China are being treated, and the horrible and brutal conditions of Chinese prisons.
On one of the last evenings, we had the honor of meeting with Bag Dro La, a tibetian refugee who fled to India after being imprisoned and tortured by the Chinese for protesting. We met at his favorite Italian cafe, and shared a meal as we listened to him speak about his experiences and ideas for Tibetan freedom. I think everyone was touched by his story, and the conditions in which he was kept.
We all enjoyed our time in McLeod Ganj, and we learned a lot about the freedom struggle for Tibet. I think McLeod Ganj now has a special place in our hearts.