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Location: Dharamsala

A cool morning mist hung over the monastery as we all stepped outside of our rooms, ready to start our first full weekend here in Dharamsala. The town was slightly subdued this morning, but there were of course plenty of taxis to be found, so we rode down to Lower Dharamsala, a few minutes ride from the center of town. There we strolled in the rain through the temple of the oracle, who goes into trances in order to foresee the future and make predictions.

We then talked to the director of the Department of Information and International Affairs, who spoke to us about the deteriorating human rights conditions in Tibet. In her cozy office, we learned about self-immolation and the many reasons, both religious and political, that Tibetans felt they had no choice but to go into exile. Although we have been learning – through TCV, our mutual learning partners, and various films and documentaries – about the struggles that many Tibetans face, we still learned new information today, and the overall situation in Tibet is becoming more and more clear, bit by bit.

Still pondering the things we had learned about Tibet, the day took a more light-hearted turn when we went to the Lha Institute to learn how to make momos, a traditional Tibetan dumpling. We filled them with vegetables, only potato, or brown sugar, and were then able to eat the delicious and filling momos after we had made them. After digesting for a little bit, being teenagers, we felt the undeniable pull of the many stores and stalls that line the streets here in Dharamsala, and spent a few hours browsing and shopping for clothes and many, many pieces of jewelry. Many of us literally shopped ’till we dropped, so we stopped in at Common Ground early this evening for yet another delicious meal.

Our last outing for the day was to a concert called Come Home Your Holiness, and we experienced Tibetan operas and even Tibetan raps. As we walked home through the laughs and shouts of the bustling town to our monastery, as wet as it was with all of the monsoon rain, I think we all felt as though we had been lucky enough to see just a small glimpse into the Tibetan life.