Location: Dharamsala, India

Today’s blog will be written through the eyes of one of the Lifeworks students.

I awoke early this morning and decided to take a peaceful walk through the monastery before the rest of the group woke up and the craziness of the day began. My relaxing walk was quickly interrupted when a group of four dogs that live at the monastery decided they wanted to play. I spent the next half hour playing with the dogs and talking with a couple of the monks. I was leader of the day today which means I had the lovely task of waking everyone up. After breakfast, we began the long trek of over three hundred steps up to Dharmasala. In the morning we all met with our mutual learning partners from the Lha Social Work Organization. My partner and I first went to the Tsuklakhang Temple which is the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We studied there for a while but quickly moved when many people came up to me wanting to take pictures with the “foreign Americans.” For lunch, we took a break from the Indian food and had pizza, my favorite!

After we drove up to TCV (The Tibetan Children’s Village School) and my two Lifeworks teammates and I went to our lively class of eight girls. We did creative writing exercises and games, then talked for the remainder of the time, discussing our lives and telling stories. It is interesting to see how much we are alike, even though we live thousands of miles away in a completely different culture. Back in Dharmasala, we were happy to hear that we had some time to do a bit of souvenir shopping! It was very fun going around to all of the little shops and street vendors and seeing what life is like in Dharmasala. Tonight we had planned to go meet with a college group for dinner at a local soup kitchen, but we had a scheduling mix up and ended up going to Mexican food instead. A little too spicy for me, but it was fun. We ended the night with a forum. We talked a lot about what wealth really is (financial or not) and the cultural differences between Dharmasala and our lives back home. We debated on whether we should feel shameful for how much we have when others suffer, or if we should be thankful and appreciate our financial security and use it as an opportunity to benefit others. Our group has very strong opinions and we find ourselves in heated debates on a regular basis. Today was a very long day so I am excited to finish up this blog and go to sleep!