May 31, 2012 – Amid the buzz of happy chatter, clinking forks, and laughter, the participants of Lha’s first cultural exchange program of 2012 said goodbye to their Tibetan mutual learning partners last night, after a month-long stay in McLeod Ganj. The farewell party took place at their home away from home, Lha’s Ahimsa House, and lasting memories – along with emails and other contact info – were taken away by all.
The 12 students from Centenary College in Louisiana, USA, arrived on May 11th, and spent most mornings with their new friends practicing English, exchanging views, and learning about the exile experience. In the afternoons they visited the many cultural and political institutions in Dharamsala including the Tibetan Government complex, the Norbulingka Institute, and Lha’s partner NGOs. Every day presented the students with new ways to engage the Tibetan community here in McLeod Ganj, with some students choosing to take yoga class while others practiced meditation or simply explored the town and its surrounding areas.
Day trips to nearby locations like Bir, Tso Pema, and Mandi introduced them to the religious traditions, both Buddhist and Hindu, present in the area. In the evenings the group had many opportunities to reflect on their experiences, and to learn more about the Tibetan political situation through lectures, films, and meetings with community members ranging from former political prisoners to representatives from local NGOs.
Lha warmly thanks the Centenary College student group for their contribution to our community here in McLeod Ganj, and looks forward to welcoming our next cultural exchange groups very soon.