Highlights from our 2018 Learn, Serve & Immerse Ladakh, India Trip
Last month (July of 2018), we had the pleasure to return to Ladakh on our Learn, Serve & Immerse trip with a wonderful and adventuresome group of 14 travelers, many of whom are supporters of the Siddhartha School. We were warmly greeted at the airport in Leh, the capital of Ladakh, by a group of students from the school and the School Secretary, who presented each of our travelers a khata, a traditional ceremonial scarf in Tibetan Buddhism, which symbolizes purity and compassion.
We were then transported to the peaceful Himalayan village of Stok, where we acclimatized for the rest of the day at the lovely new hotel. While it is hard to capture all of the amazing moments of our trip in a short blog, at our farewell dinner on the last night of our journey, each traveler shared a favorite experience during their time in India.
Here are some of the highlights that our travelers shared during our last night together (You can also see more photos and memories of our trip on Facebook page album: Learn, Serve & Immerse 2018 Trip!)
A highlight of our visit to Ladakh was the homestay with our local family in Stok. The ethnically diverse and joyful people of this region live in a sustainable, harmonious balance with the environment and have much to teach us.
During our homestay, we spent precious time with our gracious host families, helping in daily chores, tending animals, working fields, playing with the children and getting to know our families. We also got to try on some Ladakhi finery!
We also enjoyed traditional Ladakhi meals with our family, which always was accompanied by the famous ‘butter tea‘, a salty tea made of yak butter. (Making butter tea in the photo below!)
A Celebratory Day at the Siddhartha School!
We spent a lovely afternoon at Siddhartha School, first witnessing a ‘tsul rabnes’ ceremony during which both Founder of the School, Khen Rinpoche Lobzang Tsetan, and School Director, Geshe Tsewang officiated to bless the school’s new dormitories. The dorms are where resident students from remote villages of Ladakh who call the school their home live while away from home.
After the blessing, we enjoyed a wonderful celebration by SSP students performing Ladakhi dances and a Skit, the telling the 12 deeds of Buddha.
We had a special visit to two of Ladakh's beautiful gems, Thiksey and Hemis Gompas (monasteries), led by Venerable Tenzin Dasel, a good friend and Buddhist nun who imparted Buddhist philosophy with us as we enjoyed the sites.