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May 7, 2007

Program Itinerary

June 28-29: Flight from New York to India. Arrive in Delhi and transfer to hotel.

June 30: Orientation in Delhi. Visit Red Fort, Chadni Chowk, and Jami Masjid. Train to Chandigarh and bus to Dharamsala.

July 1: Arrive in Dharamsala. Check in guest house. Begin orientation.

July 2-July 6: Home stays in Dharamsala. Cultural lecture series, language training introduction, Independent Study Projects, and service work. Excursions to Tibetan Children’s Village, Tibetan Youth Congress, National Library and Archives, Medical and Astrological Institute, audiences with religious leaders, teachings on Buddhism.

July 6: Celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday with home stay families. Bus to Manali.

July 7: Arrive Manali: Explore local monasteries and visit hot springs.

July 8: Drive from Manali to Losar over Rothang Pass and enter the Spiti Valley. Stay in guest house.

July 9: Drive from Losar to Tabo over Kunzam Pass. Stay at Tabo Monastery.

July 10: Visit various monasteries in the area, including Dhankar and Kye Monasteries as well as Kibber village. Stay in guest house.

July 11: Rest day at Kibber. Optional trip to summit nearby peak. Trek preparation.

July 12: Begin trek. Walk to Thaltak.

July 13: Walk to base of Parang-la.

July 14: Base of Parang-la to Largyap and over Parang-la.

July 15: Trek to Umna.

July 16: Umna to Rachu Lamo.

July 17: Trek to Norbu Sumdo.

July 18: Trek to Kyangdam for the first view of Tsomoriri Lake.

July 19: Trek to Korzok Village Tsomoriri.

July 20: Drive to Leh.

July 21 – 24: Visit Saboo Village and learn about traditional Ladakhi houses. Home stay and service project in the mornings and visit monastery and cultural sites in Leh Valley.

July 25: Flight from Leh to Delhi. Check in hotel in Delhi.

July 26: Travel to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal.

July 27: Free day in Delhi. Final program banquet. Transfer to international airport.

July 28: Arrive in New York.

May 9, 2007

Greetings from John Calogero, Program Director

John Calogero.jpg

Hello Brian, Perrin, Rebecca, Travis, Helena, and Pamela,

As the new guy to your group I will introduce myself first, but I look forward to hearing from each of you in the next few weeks. I am excited to learn what your hopes are for our learning adventure.

One thing I really enjoy is seeing how others perceive the world. I enjoy experiencing other cultures, and I particularly enjoy experiencing them with other people. Some of the most memorable experiences I have had occurred when I took the time to listen. In the last few years I have listened to the early morning drumming during Ramadan to wake people up to eat followed by the call to prayer, before the sun rises and the fast begins. I have listened to stories of tragedy and survival following the Indian Ocean tsunami. I have listened to a monk who changed his schedule to explain the principles of Tibetan Buddhism to me before I left Dharamsala.

As much as I seek new and different perceptions I am frequently and pleasantly surprised by the similarities among people. I’m originally from New York, and although my family moved around a bit after I was born, for the most part I grew up in Connecticut.

Now, my wife and I live in a house we built on an island in the Pacific Northwest almost as big as Staten Island but with fewer than 7000 people. We made the deliberate choice to use solar panels to generate electricity and a woodstove for heat. Although we discussed living without electricity, we like to watch TV and movies too much for that. And, of course, there is the computer.

During the years we built our house it seemed natural to me to work for Outward Bound as part of that experience is learning to live simply. The challenges of living and working together on an Outward Bound course brought me to the field of peacebuilding and studies at the School for International Training. My master’s studies took me to Sri Lanka where my most recent work there was to help reduce violence in the war ravaged East of the country.

I had told the monk in Dharamsala I was going to do peace work in Sri Lanka. He said he had to explain Buddhism to me before I went. Once he did, I understood why. I am glad I listened.

There will be challenges for each of us during our adventure. I look forward to us all meeting those challenges, with compassion. This is an amazing opportunity for all of us, and I feel fortunate to travel with you, while learning with you and from you.

Be in touch,

John Calogero


Reading & Viewing Suggestions

While there are countless books and movies to check out that would help prepare you for your adventures in India next month, we highly recommend that you at least make a point of trying to read/screen the below titles:

In Exile from the Land of Snows: The Definitive Account of the Dalai Lama and Tibet Since the Chinese Conquest, by John Avedon

A Journey in Ladakh: Encounters with Buddhism, by Andrew Harvey


Kundun and Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion