We are honored that Ama Adhe shared her story with us!
Today was such a busy and fascinating day! Everyone started out eating breakfast with their homestay families and then met up at the hotel together. The teachers were very relieved to hear that everyone has had an amazing time with their amalas and palas as girls were arguing who had the cuter brother or sister.
After everyone arrived, we piled into cars (a common activity here) and we headed to Tibetan Parliament. Peter-la described how the Tibetan government works and how they have departments very similar to ones at home- housing, health and safety, etc.- that help with the Tibetans in D-sala. We were allowed to go inside and saw where Parliament meets.
We got back into the cars and continued to drive down the mountain to Norblungka which is like an artisan workshop where they make absolutely beautiful works of art. My pala works there, which I did not know at the time, so I was very surprised to see him drive up on his motorcycle. We went inside and it is absolutely beautiful with prayer flags everywhere. We took tours of the different work areas where they create clothing and beautifully detailed woodwork, metalwork, paintings, and puppets. We then went into the temple there and went to the place His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, stays a couple of days a year. We were allowed to go inside and we also took some photos in front of the foothills of the Himalayas which some of us believe are not aptly name as they put the mountains at home to shame.
We then headed to the Dalai Lama's Temple and went to a museum which recounts the heartbreaking struggle of the Tibetan people and the pain and suffering they have experienced. The museum was very informative and filled in any of the informational gaps some of us had about Tibet. There was a film playing at the museum of Tibetan prisoners as well as original footage from Tibet of the brutalities committed against them. One of the most upsetting items there was a shirt worn by a Tibetan prisoner which was covered in blood and some of us couldn't ignore the fact that this shirt is most likely in better condition than most. There was also a katak on display that someone had kept safe throughout their stay in prison, an amazing feat.
After the museum, we went into the Temple which has amazing views of the foothills and absolutely stunning. The statues of the Buddhas were huge and so intricate, and Peter-la explained the purpose of every Buddha to us. There were huge bags of medicine next to the altar, as they are preparing for a mass blessing before they send it to the hospital. After that, we spun the prayer wheels and looked at the butter candles.
After the Temple and museum, we broke off into groups and got lunch and went shopping!! I'm sure many girls have honed their bargaining skills (I was especially impressed by Mari) and we now have tons to bring home and show you! Jewelry was the hot commodity in this group but there was a quest for prayer wheels (which are to be turned clockwise only) and prayer flags which you should be prepared to see hanging in your homes soon. After shopping, we returned to the hotel and played a lovely game called "What did you buy today." One of the most interesting purchases was an elephant tea-cozy bought by Charlotte and everyone went crazy over prayer wheel jewelry.
After shopping, we headed over to listen to a Tibetan woman who had been a prisoner for 24 years in China and Tibet. She told us that she was imprisoned after she had led a group to block one of the roads in Tibet in order to keep the Chinese out. Not only was she imprisoned, but her sisters and husbands were also and they were killed in front of her before she was taken to prison. While in prison with 300 women, she would pray to Tara that one day she would be released and able to tell her story to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. At the end of her time in prison, there were only four women left including her. She had lost tons of weight and described herself as looking like a "skeleton" and when she returned home she could not recognize anything as well as her daughter, whom she left when her daughter was one and was then a grown woman. She decided to go to D'sala to tell her story to the Dalai Lama who told her she needed to tell it to the world. Her heartbreaking story had many of us in tears. The most amazing part of her story was when someone asked her about how she lives with her anger and her Buddhist beliefs. She said that in the beginning she was very angry but over time she let go of that anger as the Dalai Lama told her that we are all people, all flesh and bone, and the ones that imprisoned her were not the problem.
After the talk, people started trekking home and some of us had to get a candy fix and some prayer flags before rejoining the homestays for dinner.