Saturday, October 2, 2010


We have now been at SECMOL for almost two weeks now and the VISpas have found a special place in hearts of all of the Ladakhis here at SECMOL. The following are two excerpts written by VISpas about their time here at SECMOL.


The other morning it was my turn to be in the kitchen at 6 A.M. to help Benoy make breakfast. To form the rolls, we would roll out the dough and slice it into long, thin strips-which we would fold and fold again before twisting them into the proper shape. It was fun, repetitive work, with people constantly entering and then leaving, teacup in hand. Benoy and I discussed food and family, and the time passed quickly.
It is so easy to appreciate the small things here; the surrounding mountains (which are really not small at all), and the way the moon seems to always be in the sky. Everyone you meet at SECMOL has their own story and view on the world. Volunteers come and go as fast as the day passes. One day, a man named Ravi sat in on our class. He told us how he wakes up every morning and focuses on bringing more compassion into the world. We saw him once more in Leh-he spotted us in a Tibetan market. The glow in his eyes and the determination in his face had remained the same.
Life at SECMOL is great all around. We turn the solar panels to follow the sun, we milk the cows, we tend to the garden and prepare the food; we are living by the Buddhist view of interconnectedness. The SECMOL students are very friendly and love to laugh. I still do not really understand the Ladakhi sense of humor, even when a joke is translated into English.
Dinner is the time of day when everyone comes together. We struggle to eat half as much rice as the Ladakhis. The food is spicy and the tea, (which they drink as water) is sweet. Tea is served before breakfast, at breakfast, at 11:00 tea time, at lunch, at 4:00 tea time, and anytime in between. We drink a lot of tea.


Arriving at SECMOL was amazing, and it really just keeps getting better the longer I'm here. At first I was just excited to be finally getting settled after nearly a month of traveling, but now that I've spent almost two weeks here, I'm starting to appreciate what really makes this place special. There is such a strong sense of community at SECMOL. The campus is almost entirely student-run. During work hour and responsibility time, I see how everyone works together to keep things running smoothly. So far, I've helped with sweeping, cutting and drying vegetables, and "forestry" (watering trees and collecting sticks and leaves). I'm still just starting to get to know the Ladakhi students, which has been a lot of fun, and hopefully I'll be able to start understanding some Ladakhi soon so I won't have to rely so much on English. Many of the students have been here for only a few months, knowing very little English before they came, and the progress they've made since then is impressive. One of my favorite times of day is English conversation class, when volunteers are paired up with groups of Ladakhis to discuss a certain topic in English, and all the students here say that this class is one of the best ways to learn English. I'm glad I can help them to learn English, and trying to learn Ladakhi reminds me just how difficult it can be to learn another language.

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