Monday, April 18, 2011

Book Report- My Spiritual Journey

They book I read throughout the semester was called My Spiritual Journey by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It is somewhat of an autobiography, in that it is a collection of teachings and stories from His Holiness. It was originally titled My Spiritual Autobiography, but it was changed because although all the statements in the book are the Dalai Lama's, "but given the collaborative effort involved in creating this book, it is not an autobiography in the strictest sense."

The book touches on the Dalai Lama's life, and how he came to be where he is now. It then gives excerpts from his teachings that have been translated by his translator Sofia Stril-Rever. Teachings are given in Three Main Parts, and subsections within each part:

  • Part I: As a Human Being
    • Our Common Humanity
    • My Lives Without Beginning or End
  • Part II: As a Buddhist Monk
    • Transforming Oneself
    • Transforming the World
    • Taking Care of the Earth
  • Part III: As the Dalai Lama
    • In 1959 the Dalai Lama Meets the World
    • I Appeal to All the Peoples of the World
    • Conclusion: I Place My Home in the Human Heart

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Last Post- Flexibilty

So after much distress, blogger finally let me log on. For my post this week, I commented on a fellow student's blog who shared her new Background and Significance section for her final Project Proposal. She briefly talked about how there have been a lot of changes to her project and how there will be more as we enter the field. Here is my response:


I agree that even after all is said and done at the end of the semester, there are so many revisions that still need to be made, many of which we aren't yet aware of and won't be until we're in the midst of it.

I'm coming to the same type of situation for my project. As I reworked my entire proposal last night, I kept finding myself focusing less and less on parenting and more on family interaction, at least when it came to observations I intend to make. This brought me to seriously question, "am I going to be doing exactly what I want to be doing here? Is there something else I would rather learn about?" Because heaven knows I won't have time to learn about everything, though I would very much like to.

So now, what do we do? Well pretty much just take it as it comes and try to be flexible. I loved that the rubric for our proposals took into account flexibility of our projects, because this might be one of the most important aspects of our projects.

This nice thing about going in a group the size we have is that it's large enough to have multiple insights and opinions, but small enough that it's not discouraging or intimidating to talk to the group as a whole about bumps in the road. I'm really excited to work in a group with you and with the other ladies (and my man) and I know that we can all really help each other to be flexible, resilient, and positive when we run into the inevitable situations that will call for these qualities time and time again.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Journal Entry 1 million

Oops, I guess I didn't realize we were supposed to continue writing journal entries during project presentations.

Well we're leaving in a month from tomorrow. I'm packing boxes for storage right now. My Tibetan class is over. My project presentation is done. My project proposal final draft is a work in progress.

The good news is that I feel as if I know just what I want to do and I felt like my presentation went alright. That day was a very stressful day, I had a major assignment due for one of my classes, and I was trying to organize a surprise for TJ, as it was our last Tibetan class that night. I didn't have one second of spare time to make brownies so I had to buy some from Sugar and Spice at the Cougareat. That made me late to class. I had a basic outline of what I wanted to talk about in my presentation, just a list of the answers to the points that were required for us to make. I got up to do my presentation and remembered just then (I didn't have time to remember earlier) that I hate presentations and I get extremely nervous while I make them. I'm comfortable talking and making conversation, but when it comes to big groups, I think that I freeze up a little.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Journal Entry- Culture Shock

Today in field study preparation class we talked about culture shock. We talked about an assigned article called "Coping with Culture Shock" by Ferraro.

In this article, there are stages in culture shock that travelers go through:

  • The Honeymoon Stage
  • Irritation and Hostility
  • Gradual Adjustment
  • Biculturalism
When we talked about these stages in class, our teacher, Ashley, said that she didn't want to number them because it's not that black and white or straightforward. In fact, we will probably go from one stage to another and then back again, maybe even to square one, throughout our trip.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Current Events

Today in my field study prep course we talked about current events in the Tibetan-in-exile situation, and how they might affect our experience in the field. One major one that was talked about was the current elections that took place recently, and about how the results will be announced a little before the time we will be entering the field, which will mean that the community will be buzzing with the changes and fresh faces in government.

Another subject we talked about was the tug-of-war going on between India and China over Nepal, and how this took a toll on the recent elections. Many exiled Tibetans were not allowed to vote in the recent elections. Is this possibly a result of the recent generous donation China gave to Nepal? Having Nepal on its side, China has an advantage over the Tibet-India alliance.

Another event we talked about was the possible retirement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from his role as political leader. I just found a brief article moments ago that says that this retirement was accepted, but I will continue to search around for some more depth in this subject.

So after a class full of current events and a few questions about our upcoming lives in McLeod Ganj, I feel as if I'm a square one again. It's a different square one than when I started my journey in developing a project, IRB protocol, finding a mentor, etc etc etc. This square one is purely on a board of knowledge. Knowledge about the religion and politics of the people with whom we will be working. Sure we are learning and researching and trying to piece together enough to understand something, anything, that can help us in the field. But reading and living are two very different things. I can research and read as much as I can, but the plain and simple fact is, I am not living there and don't understand the effect that religion and these current events are having in the lives of the Tibetans. These events are going to affect their lives, and because I will be living with them and working with them, they will affect mine as well.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Potential Problems

Today in my Field Study Prep. course, we had a discussion on potential problems that will inevitably come up in the field that can potentially affect our project or our experience while abroad. At first, I thought "oh ya, I've thought of all of these" but I was soon humbled. There were many problems that I did not think about, some that hadn't even crossed my mind at all!! We brainstormed some on our own on a piece of paper, picked one and thought of a discussion question that relates to that problem, and also brainstormed as a class on the white-board. Here are some potential problems that we came up with as a class (all of the ones I thought of on my own were very obvious problems, and are all mentioned below).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Journal Entry- Studying Up

For my project, I will be working with and communicating primarily with Tibetan families. I have been trying to understand more about the Tibetan exiled situation by watching movies, reading articles, etc. and my facilitator recently sent us an article that talks about His Holiness the Dalai Lama, his plans for political retirement, and China's opinion/role in that decision.

I found this article to be very interesting and it got me thinking about how this announcement, of whether or not His Holiness is going to be able to and when he will retire, is going to have a huge affect on the people I will be working with, and on the area I will be living in. If His Holiness steps aside and the Tibetan constitution is changed to replace his position with "a democratic system in which the political leadership is elected by the [Tibetan] people for a specific term," then that means that the government and lives of the Tibetan people will be dramatically changed. Our Tibetan language teacher spoke to us a little bit about this issue, and he was telling us that he thinks that the Dalai Lama should be able to retire because the Tibetan people need to learn to separate church and state, and leave politics politics and religion religion. He was saying that the Dalai Lama isn't always going to be there to lead the Tibetans, so the Tibetan people need to be a little more independent, at least in politics. TJla then told us that his opinions would be considered very radical, and most likely many other Tibetans would not share that same viewpoint.

If His Holiness steps aside and is able to retire, then I wonder if this would increase or decrease the likelihood of Tibet gaining independence or autonomy. The article talks about how if he does so, then talk and negotiations with Beijing will be easier, but his absence in Tibetan politics would also make many Tibetans anxious and unsure of their future.

I wonder what the result of this debate will be, and what the result of the decision will be. It's interesting to be witnessing history in the making, and even more so to witness Tibetan history in the making, when it's a population I will be working so closely with for the sp/su.

Books I'm Reading

  • My Spiritual Journey by H.H. the Dalai Lama
  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin