Ladakh 2019 Trip Leaders
Siddhartha School Project Executive Director
Trip Leader for Art of the Silk Road: Exploring the Rich Cultural Heritage of Ladakh (dates: July 8-19)
Laura co-founded the Siddhartha School Project in 1993, when her Smith College professor, Khen Rinpoche asked for her help. Laura says, “The Siddhartha School started with a simple wish to provide children in Rinpoche’s native village a better education, closer to home. Since 1995 when we hired our first teacher and held classes in a rented room, we have taken great care in growing the school while never losing sight of our primary purpose—to provide the best possible educational experience to Ladakhi children with an eye toward the future and a reverence for the past.”
Laura lives in New York with her husband, son, and Labrador, and travels to annually. Passionate about Himalayan art and heritage, she’s studied with a master Ladakhi Buddhist icon painter, wrote Harvard’s Peabody Museum Guide to their collection of Himalayan objects, and has a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School in world religions with a focus on Tibetan art and religious history. She is thrilled to share Himalayan culture and the beauty of Ladakh with visitors, and looks forward to taking this group through sites she’s been visiting since 1989.
Our Trip Leader for Ladakh: Learn, Serve & Immerse
A Seattle native, Ben Wheeler is a 6th grade Geography and Civilizations teacher at The Bush School, which is an educational partner of the Siddhartha School. Ben has travelled to India and Ladakh twice, most recently in the spring of 2018 as co-leader for a group of Bush School 8th graders on a cultural immersion adventure for the Bush School which included homestays in Stok Village, multiple activities at the Siddhartha School and the Ngari Institute, cultural workshops in daily life, cooking, Ladakhi music, and agriculture, as well as visits to cultural sites.
In 2009, Ben was awarded the World Educator by the Seattle World Affairs Council. He authored the high school textbook It's All Connected - a Comprehensive Guide to Global Issues and Sustainable Solutions, the article Sustainable Design for a Positive Future, and the online course for teachers Sustainability Education Concepts and Teaching Methods.
Ben enjoys fly-fishing, jazz and classical guitar, cross-country skiing, and backpacking, and we are very lucky to have him lead our trip to Ladakh this year!