Location: Dharamsala

Today we got off to a rocky start as Caroline, and I woke up about five minutes before our 300-step journey up the mountain to Mcleod Ganj. We rushed out the door and joined the others for another hike up the steep cement staircase. We then arrived at Common Ground for another breakfast of thick fluffy pancakes and juice. When our learning partners arrived, we were lucky enough that it wasn’t pouring, so we hopped in a very vehicle called an auto-rickshaw and headed to the sacred Dal Lake.

When we got there, we were immediately approached by a very friendly and quite happy cow, who I later named Jeffrey. Jeffrey was very happy to be pet and get attention like a dog. We proceeded to walk around the lake to find a beautiful white horse and his owner, a small boy about 13 years old. I decided to try and introduce myself in Hindi. After I did, he smiled like he understood but also like it was funny to see an American attempting to speak his language.

We later headed back to Shambhala cafe, and we did lots of art and got to know more about our language partners. When it was time to go, we enjoyed a nice Japanese lunch and headed to TCV to hang out with the children. Since the monsoon has begun, we remained inside and played many games and drew lots of pictures and taught them how to write English words.

After TCV, we went to the main Asian office for Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) based right here in Dharamsala. We met with an SFT coordinator Rinzi, a recent graduate of Delhi University, who told us about the contemporary situation within Tibet and SFT’s numerous campaigns to try and benefit Tibet. She told us about the campaign to free the political prisoner and to protect Tibet’s rivers, the watershed of all of Asia that feed and water more than 2 billion people.

My favorite part of the day was our Tibetan dance class, taught by the winner of last year’s Tibet’s Got Talent Tenzin Migmar. We learned traditional Tibetan dances, along with a fusion of modern day moves to a soundtrack of Tibetan pop music. It was a lot of fun to see the group attempting to dance and just laughing with and at one another.