The Beginning of the End

December 4, 2019 Off By Truman

Welcome to our penultimate blog post! Given the time of the year, I will use this as an opportunity to reflect and give thanks for the many wonderful people we’ve met and experiences we’ve had.

Although our academic work is not quite finished, I am thankful that we have gotten over the largest hump. After making the final edits to our research papers we turned them in. For me this meant going to my favorite little café and grinding for a few days. My research has been on the Tibetan principles and practices for caring for children. I am grateful for all the educators, counselors, and parents I conversed with. Without them my research would be nothing. 


On Wednesday, November 27th, I was reminded by Sam that it was Thanksgiving eve. In amazement, I reflected on the fact that it was almost December and we would be going home soon. This was the beginning of the end for me, but not in any dark or depressing way. I am incredibly grateful for this life-changing experience and all I can do now is look back with appreciation. On Thanksgiving Day, we all gathered with our program teachers and leaders for a smorgasbord style dinner of momos, stir-fry, pizza, chow mein, and mashed potatoes. I couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic as I tasted the mashed potatoes. Of course, this was followed by cakes, cookies, and brownies. In Quaker tradition, we had a moment of silence for gratitude and reflection.

This time also marked the end of our volunteer work. After serving over 40 hours at the Rogpa Baby Care Center I finally feel like I have given back to this wonderful community, which has helped me grow and learn. For all of us, these experiences have been insightful opportunities to more directly explore the Tibetan community in exile and interact with Tibetans. After our last of volunteering, we attended and a candlelit vigil for a Tibetan martyr. Younten, a 24-year-old Tibetan, burned himself to death (self-immolation) to protest China’s occupation of Tibet. He joins a list of more than 150 Tibetans in the last decade who have done the same thing. We peacefully marched through the streets of downtown McLeod Ganj, which culminated with a few speeches at the Dalai Lama’s Monastery. They encouraged each other to be inspired by the young martyr’s selfless act instead of giving in to hopelessness. 

Photographs of the young Tibetan man who self-immolated in protest for a free Tibet.

On the weekend Alex, Berto, Shani, and I had tea with our Tibetan program leader, Domchoe, on his roof. We broke bread and sipped tea while looking out over the beautiful scenery and reflecting on our time together. We shared funny stories and fended off monkeys. We are all slowly coming to appreciate the fact that we will be leaving very soon. We are working together to finish the highly anticipated Tibetan Studies website for this year. All while we suddenly learn that we will be having a private audience with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Our questions are prepared, and our minds are open. Come back next week to find out how this exciting opportunity plays out. 

Peace and Love,

Will Constable