My Time in Mcleod Ganj

P1030973 Volunteer Job at Lha: Assistant teacher “The goal is still Dharamsala”; out of a journal entry of mine from early in the year. The attraction to Dharamsala (Mcleod Ganj) took root when I first learned of the Tibetan community in exile there, and from various backpackers I had met over the course of the past eight months of travel in Asia. Reading books on the Dalai Lama, Tibet, and Buddhism subsequently fed my desire to visit the mountain top refuge. So, when I found myself at the doorstep of the Himalayas, Mcleod, finally feeling at ease after a 350km cycle through Punjab, I began to delve into the things that make the town and the community such a special place. Two months later I’m still here, and not a day goes by when I am not constantly reminded of the generosity, spirituality, and mystery of the Tibetan culture, kept alive by that country’s exiled population. Beginning to volunteer at Lha in my first week opened the gates to my experiences with the locals more than any other activity in which I have partaken. Starting with conversation classes and moving into a role as assistant teacher in the elementary English class, I came into contact with some truly beautiful individuals who also happen to be extremely earnest students. Some of the sentences they came up with (despite being written with a limited understanding of the language) were articulate, always honest, at times uplifting and at others, heartbreaking. Reading words off the board in unison, the resulting hilarity when differences between our cultures met, and being able to see the students’ progress and their knowledge grow, have been some of the many rewards of being a volunteer at Lha. Having been able to use my knowledge to benefit the students fills me with a deep gratitude that I owe to not only the students, but to the other staff who also made my experience here so impactful. With a flight home in just a few short days, I find myself reflecting on the time spent here, and among the mixed emotions about leaving, I feel excited about being able to come back and to again be a part of this community. – See more at: