Location: Dharamsala

We started our day with a stroll around the beautiful Tsechokling monastery. It was painted with beautiful colors and covered in Buddhist paintings and prayer wheels. Jampa showed us into the temple itself; full of offerings and symbols of the religion. After exploring the monastery, we proceeded to climb up the 300-step staircase into town. By the 20th step, we were already gasping for air. We reached the top and explored the city. It is fantastic; the streets are lined with little shops selling everything from incense to fruit. Jampa led us to Tsuklakhang Temple, home of the Dalai Lama, a replica of his temple in Tibet. We made our way through a forest of prayer flags and several cows and then ate a delicious lunch at Wen’s cafe. Jampa talked to us about the terrible situation that the Chinese government has put the Tibetans in and the struggles they face. Everybody learned a lot, and we realize how oppressed these people are. A guest speaker from the school we will be teaching at, also came and shared her experiences with us.

After it cooled off a bit, we dipped our feet in the Bagsu Waterfall, which felt amazing. Then we dodged the crazy Indian traffic back to the monastery to review a guide that told us how the learning service program would work. Everybody seems excited about this chance to engage with Tibetan refugees and learn about their life while we share our knowledge with them. It may be challenging, but it will be such a rewarding experience. Finally, for dinner we feasted on traditional Tibetan dumplings called momo, with a spicy chili sauce and almond toffee for dessert.