Lha’s Cultural Exchange Programme provides a unique opportunity for people to experience the Tibetan culture and the people of McLeod Ganj first hand. Visits to local cultural centres, museums, temples, the Tibetan government-in-exile and non-government organisations, schools and institutes take place to suit the interests of each group and speakers tell them of their work and experiences and provide the opportunity for the visitors to explore the issues in depth – whether political, humanitarian or personal – and ask questions of people with direct experience of the subject of their researches. And on a personal level, visitors are often paired up with Tibetans living in the community in McLeod Ganj for the duration of their stay, giving both the opportunity to share experiences and ideas, discuss current affairs and brush up their language skills and, most importantly, to make friends for life.
Past exchange students often keep in touch with Lha for years following their visit and follow up at home, spreading the word about what is happening in Tibet and in the exile community and supporting us from afar. We value their interest and input and the ongoing contacts that they give us around the world.
Lha hosted three different groups from Rustic Pathways this month – we bade farewell to the last group on July 24. Rustic Pathways is an American organisation whose mission is to empower students through innovative and responsible travel experiences to positively impact on lives and communities around the world.
This year we have hosted five Rustic groups, comprising a total of 59 students from different parts of the world. All the five groups participated in our mutual learning programme. “This was an amazing experience in which I learned a lot about Tibetan culture while helping the Tibetan students with their English” said one participant, Reilly Folsom.
As a token of appreciation, Lha’s General Secretary presented each student with a Tibetan traditional white scarf along with a souvenir and recommendation letter. Lha wishes all these wonderful young students success in the pursuit of their dreams. We also would like to express our gratitude to all the group leaders and Rustic Pathways management for making the programme such a success.
The group from Loyola University, which was led by Mr Michael Smith, was here in Dharamshala for over two weeks participating in our mutual learning programme.
Lha’s Director Mr Ngawang Rabgyal offered everyone atraditional Tibetan scarf and a Lha souvenir to wish them well. He expressed gratitude to everyone for making this programme such a success. One of the group leaders, Ms Sonam, entertained the gathering with Tibetan songs and played the damnyen – the Tibetan traditional guitar. “I loved having the opportunity to spend time with a student my age from another culture. I learned so much about Tibet from my learning partner”, said: Victoria Shavone Nachman, a Loyola student.
Louisiana State University
A group of medical students from Louisiana State University, led by Mr Neil Guidry, stayed in Dharamshala for over two weeks. They visited Dolma Ling Nunnery and monasteries in Bir where they did free dental, eye and general physical health checkups for the residents. They met students from Mentseekhang Tibetan Medicine Institute and visited various other Tibetan organisations in Dharamshala to learn about the issues facing the Tibetan community. Geshe Lhakdor La, Director of Tibetan Library, gave a them a talk, Buddhist Philosophy in Relation to Physical Health and Mental Well-being. During their farewell dinner, the group shared their experiences with Lha staff, and Lha’s Director Ngawang Rabgyal thanked them for their volunteer services by offering them traditional Tibetan scarves and small wall hangings.
This month we also hosted a group of students from GoBeyond Travels.GoBeyong were previously known as Lifeworks International, a group of dedicated educators who create and run expeditionary programmes that hold the possibility of changing lives. Lha and GoBeyond have worked together for many years. This year’s group consisted of 11 young people from America who were here in Dharamshala for two weeks from July 17 – 29, participating in our mutual learning programme and visting many Tibetan institutes and NGOs. We invited Mr Lobsang Yeshi, a member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile and a political researcher, to give a talk on current Tibet issues to our student group
As is our tradition, the students were presented a white scarf and Lha souvenir on their final day. We wish them all the best for their future endeavors and thank them all for their participation and support.