By Charlie Koloms

Namaste to friends and family back home.

This week for the Shiva group has been drastically different than our previous weeks in India. Instead of staying in a busy city like before, we have moved on campus to a school called SECMOL, just 30 minutes from the city of Leh in Ladakh. SECMOL is a school for 10th and 12th graders located at the foothills of the Himalayas. It is similar to a boarding school while maintaining a concentration in environmental sustainability and learning English. Our role as volunteers at SECMOL has been partaking in English class for 2-3 hours a day and generally forming relationships with the Ladakhi teenagers. Naturally, our social interactions with the locals has increased throughout the week which has allowed the group to have deeper, more intellectual conversations with the students.

All of the Ladakhis are so excited to speak with us, showing strong senses of love and compassion for the entire group. Throughout conversation, they have mentioned numerous times that their entire community is based around love and compassion which is so rare to see so grounded in teenagers. For example, when discussing the idea of love with some of the Ladakhi college students in class, many of them were able to expand greatly on this topic, mentioning ideas like love of nature, love of other beings, and romantic love.

It seems like the ideas of love and compassion have been radiateing from the people of Ladakh to the entire Shiva group, putting everyone in a much stronger sense of selflessness and peace.

Coming from the emotionally draining week at Mother Teresa Home for the Destitute to SECMOL has given everyone the opportunity to re-energize and continue being grateful for where we are and what we have. Bucket showers, hand washing clothes, and fluctuating weather sounds bare and helpless but has consequently forced us to live in the moment and love one another even more. We are all in such high spirits, continuously in awe of the beautiful nature surrounding us and infinite happiness of the locals, especially after the sunrise hike on Friday. None of us are thrilled to leave but still eager for the next week of trekking in the Himalayas.

Sunrise hike above the Indus River.

Time for a haircut.

Sunrise hike.

Top of the climb.

View of the Himalayas from the town of Leh.

The view from SECMOL campus.