Location: Dharamsala

Today was the first day of meeting our mutual learning partner at Lha. The way that this program works is that we are each assigned a Tibetan refugee to teach and we spend quality time with them and get to know them. This is a truly unique experience because you are not just sitting in a classroom; rather, you are out and about with your mutual learning partner. I found the experience amazing. I learned so much about my learning partner and how he migrated from Tibet to India and how much of an adventure it was. I learned about how he is originally from China, where he lived with his uncle who was studying medicine at the time. His parents sent him to Tibet when he was around 20 years old. He is now 35 years of age. While talking to him, I constantly corrected his English and made sure that he was speaking in a logical manner. I taught him some new vocabulary such as Migration, Taxi Fare, Currency, foreign policy and much more. Some people were worried about spending 3 hours with a stranger, but for the most part, everyone was pleasantly surprised at how easy and fun it was to talk to their mutual learning partner. I had a blast, and I cannot wait to continue this program for the next two weeks! Next, we went to lunch and said goodbye to our mutual learning partners. After lunch, we took taxis up the mountain to a boarding school for needy children. We were all split up into groups of 3 and together, we had to design a lesson plan. We are teaching the after-school program, therefore, most of our lessons will be arts and crafts based, but they will be learning English and other important social skills at the same time. There are about 20-30 kids in one classroom and the 3 group members acting as the teachers. The children were so cute and smart (and a bit on the wild side)! After ten minutes of getting them to settle down, we played musical chairs and played with watercolors with them. The kids were very artistic! In the end, there were many drawings and paintings around the classroom.

Around 4 pm, it was time to say goodbye. We then took taxis back to the monastery. We relaxed for a bit and then it was forum time. Tonight, I led the forum. I decided to discuss the topic of diversity in top boarding schools. I talked about how my school has a lot of Asians and how they are accepting less and less because it is causing the school to lose sight of its mission statement. That is to be a multicultural and diverse school. I asked everyone what they thought schools should do and how top boarding schools should try to improve their diversity. Molly suggested that perhaps by having more social events and gatherings, it could bring the students more together. We also discussed how some schools like to bring in a lot of Asians purely for statistics or to boost their image. Overall, we had a lively discussion, and I think that it went well. After the forum, we went to dinner in the Monastery dining hall. After dinner, Jumpa spoke to us about Tibet and the history of the Tibetan people, and he talked about his personal experience and his family situation when he made the hike on the Himalayas to get to India. Overall, it was a very productive day, and I cannot wait for the next couple weeks and what they will have in store for our group!