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February 12, 2009

Staff Retreat

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We have been having a good staff retreat prior to student arrival for pre-departure orientation. We're all looking forward to meeting the students tomorrow.

February 14, 2009

Student Orientation

All the students have arrived for pre-departure orientation in the Berkshires. Yay!

The Retreat

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Student orientation has begun. The Berkshire mountains are covered in snow and it is really beautiful here. Lots of things to remember, such as don't point the bottom of your feet at anyone. We had amazing chili. Ozzie was not sure what to make of the group tango experience. It has been great to meet everyone face to face. There is nothing more refreshing than a cold morning shower. We've gotten a lot of advice and Ellie has been very helpful. We are ready for India--bring it all on.

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"The Fellowship of the Rope": Simulated white-out teambuilding exercise

February 16, 2009

Safe in Delhi

Deb sent us a text message that the group has landed in Delhi and are en route to their hotel to get some rest before exploring the city in the morning. Stay tuned for updates from India as the adventure begins.

John

February 20, 2009

Amritsar...

You may have noticed that Global LAB's website was down for some of yesterday and as a result our group was not able to post updates to the blog about their activities in Delhi. They had a full couple of days, exploring some of the key historical sites and monuments as well as making a visit to a school for blind students. Then they took the overnight train up to Amritsar to visit the Golden Temple, holiest of sites for the Sikh religion. From Amritsar they will move on to Dharamsala, where they will settle in to their first homestays and begin Independent Study Projects. Stay tuned here as student blog posts will posted in the days ahead.

John

February 23, 2009

Arrival in Delhi

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We survived the 14 hour flight by watching movies, talking to our neighbors and sleeping. Upon arrival we were warmly greeted at the airport by Peter, Amit, and Goraf. They gave us a traditional welcoming of kata and flowers and delivered us safely to our hotel.
- Jess

The Gypsy

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The first ride in the gypsy! One of the best parts of the of the trip so far. I trust my life with Amit’s driving skillzzzzz.
-Austen

Loving the Lassi

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Sippin’ on some lassi- we all enjoyed lassis courtesy of Amit after seeing a cultural dance show in Delhi. Jess discovered ice at the bottom of her cup and luckily didn’t get sick. Afterwards we headed towards a restaurant near our hotel where the mutter paneer was especially delicious.
- Christina

India Gate

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On our first day in Delhi we fed monkeys (Tuesday is monkey day!), visited the Gandhi museum, went to a cultural performance and saw the India gate. It was a good day. Our trips in the Gypsy were epic. Peter-la took the picture.
-Sarah

Delhi Delights

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Here are some of our favorite activities in Delhi… Riding in the Gypsy, drinking chai tea, spending time at Jama Majid, eating chicken tikka masala, walking around the India Gate, riding in a rickshaw, and the unity exhibit at the Gandhi museum.

We also really enjoyed visiting the Amity International School and the School for the Blind.

Amritsar

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We took the overnight train from Delhi to Amritsar. Austen was our watch gaurd and made sure that our bags were safe throughout the night! While in Amritsar, we visited the Golden Temple, peeled vegetables and ate our meals at Langar (free kitchen), spend some time reflecting at Jallianwala Bagh (site of the 1919 massacre that sparked Gandhi’s non-violence movement), and cheered as we watched the Wagah Border Crossing Ceremony (a flag ceremony on the India/Pakistan border).

Last Day in Delhi

Yesterday we went to the Red Fort which is like a fort/palace and jama majid which is a mosque in Old Delhi. They were both built by the same emperor that made the Taj Mahal. The mosque was absolutely breath taking. It had huge marble arches and a huge courtyard and water pool that everyone was washing themselves in. We got to go to the very top of a tower in the building and were able to see all of Delhi. It was weird to see such a beautiful building and then look at the slums surrounding it. We also took our first rikshaw ride through the city. It was really fun because we rode through the market and were able to see all the funky shops and bright colors. It was a very relaxing day, which i definetly needed after the jam-packed days and my lack of sleep. After that we took a night train to Amritsar. The night train wasn't as bad as I thought it would be...the beds were rock solid and stacked on top of one and another and it was kinda loud but I somehow managed to get more sleep there then I did any night in Delhi which was really nice. The most embaressing thing happened to me while I was on a squat toliet on the train (which are basically just holes that go down onto the tracks... so you are never supposed to touch the railroad tracks in india..fun fact!) I guess I forgot to fully lock the door and an old woman opened it up and screamed. I am not sure how much of the train saw my butt but we were all joking about whoever did was definetly impressed because it is so pale and alot of Indians that I have met like pale skin hahahah. It is also funny is because India is so conservative towards women. Austin and Deb got realyl sick on the train, which was really awful. They ate dinner on the train and threw up alot...I felt so bad!!

We arrived in Amritsar around 6 am and spent the day at the golden temple. The temple is absouletly breathtaking (if you dont know what it looks like definetly google it now!) We ate and worked in Langar which is a cafeteria that is part of the temple. You eat for free and you are supposed to help out after/before. Peter says it is good Karma to do that. The next day we went to a flag ceremony. It was really cool. Both sides were chanting "We Live"..it felt like we were almost at some kind of sports game! It was also really cool to see both of the countries participating in this activity and having fun because all I have heard of was their bad relationship.

First Day in Mcleod Ganj

As we were walking around getting the feel for mcleod ganj aman came up to me with abig smile on his face. My first thought was that he was going to try and sell me something or beg, but as he got closer he asked what my name was and were i am from. After a few minutes of talking it turns out he just wanted to talk to me and invite me for tea in his shop. It is very humbling to have people come up to, not knowing you at all and want to converse and learn about you. He said that I should come for tea whenever I have free time or just want to talk.

Getting Settled in McLeod Ganj

We have arrived safely in McLeod Ganj and are getting aquainted with Tibetan culture and food (love the momos)! In about an hour, the students will be meeting their homestay families and will be spending the next couple of days celebrating Losar (Tibetan New Year) with them. Everyone is very excited to meet their new mom, dad, and sibilings.

India

I just wanted to start off by saying that India is amazing. I can't believe we've only been here a week, we've seen and done so much! We started off with 3 days in Delhi- cruising in the Gypsy was so much fun (Amit- Christina and I think you should come to Jaipur with us). After that we travelled to Amritsar to see the Golden Temple. The Golden Temple was really beautiful, and the kitchen next door (Langar) provides free meals to anyone who goes there. We helped shell peas and garlic in exchange for the meals. Yesterday we arrived in Dharamsala, it has such a different feel from what we've seen so far. It's very peaceful here and the view is incredible. We can see the Himalayas right outside our bedroom window. Tonight we start our homestays, which I'm really excited for.

Just for the record, squat toilets are way better than the ones back home- they're actually pretty comfortable. I love eating with my hands (I'm never using a fork or knife again).

Adios!

February 24, 2009

Homestay Day

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The families came to pick up the students and our students are very much excited and nervous. We introduced each student to their family and they talked for a while. We had tea and snacks after the welcome speech from Deb and me. Before leaving we took a group photo and they left the guest house. We know they will be happy with the homestays as the families are used to hosting Global LAB students.
-Peter

February 27, 2009

Dharamsala

We've been in Dharamsala since Sunday, and it's a nice change from the city. I think everyone needed to recharge and have time to relax. My homestay family has been taking such good care of me. My brother has been helping me learn Hindi and Tibetan- it makes me miss our times in Guate Anna (Te extrano!). At first I was a little nervous being there... then I realized that I just need to relax and enjoy the experience. Life seems to go at a different pace, with more time for family and friends. We've also had a few guest speakers talk with us. They've given us lots of food for thought, particularly about compassion and non-violence. I'm off to yoga class. Later!