From House of Peace to Place of Hope

A ‘Cultural Immersion in McLeod Ganj’

Celeste Taylor ’12 (left) and Kamila Goldin ’13 had the opportunity to explore India’s vast landscape after work hours in McLeod Ganj. (Photo courtesy of Kamila Goldin ’13)

Kamila Goldin ’13 placed her black, leather-bound journal on the table as we talked. “It’s here if we need it,” she said with a smile. We were about to discuss her recent Theory-to-Practice project, “Cultural Immersion in McLeod Ganj: A Study in Cultural and Political Change.”

On December 27, Goldin, a double major in philosophy and women’s and gender studies and Celeste Taylor ’12 a politics and government major, headed to McLeod Ganj, India.

“We went to learn about a Tibetan refugee community,” explained Taylor. Although back on campus for one month, Taylor and Goldin were still as excited to share their experiences as they had been on the night of their return to OWU.

“The first thing we did [in India] was purchase shawls because it was so cold,” Goldin said. While in India, their village at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains was hit by the largest snowstorm it had seen in five years, layering the ground with more than a foot-and-a-half of snow and stealing the power for six days.

“It was really fun,”said  Goldin, as Taylor nodded in agreement.

Kamila Goldin ’13 helps a young Tibetan girl with word meanings. (Photo courtesy of Kamila Goldin ’13)

 

In McLeod Ganj, they tutored teenage girls through the Lha organization.

“We met with three girls in the morning, usually for an hour-and-a-half to two hours,” Goldin explained. “We taught them mostly English, but also some French, Spanish, and German. They absorbed it like sponges. They were really excited to learn.”

In the afternoons, Taylor and Goldin tutored a 17-year-old Tibetan refugee. Taylor worked closely with her on essay writing, while Goldin created worksheets that focused on guides to word meanings and pronunciation. “We would read them, then she would read them,” Goldin explained. “Then we’d make her go through and find the differences and go over any rules that she might be missing.”

Goldin opened up her leather-bound notebook on the table to reveal an example of an exercise. “Like this one,” she said, pointing. “Princess. Prices. Prison. Celeste and I then would take turns quizzing her.” She was wonderful and so humble.”

In addition to their work, Goldin and Taylor had the opportunity to explore cultural sites in India such as the temple of the Dali Lama and Norbulingka, a center for Tibetan culture.

“It was so cool,” said Taylor. They also hiked six kilometers up to Triund, a local mountain hotspot, to get a dose of India’s vast landscape. “Every step we’d take we would fall into the snow, up to our thighs,” said Taylor said with a laugh.

“I had no concept of India, or of refugees, before this trip,” said Goldin. “ I met so many people who touched my heart. Now I hear about Syria, and any kind of these armed protests that are happening right now, and they touch my heart, because I met people who really are struggling,” Goldin shares.“It was unforgettable.” Taylor agrees.

“This trip was the capstone to everything that I’ve ever learned at Ohio Wesleyan,” she said.

“After all of the courses that I’ve taken, papers I’ve written, and the theories I’ve studied, I now have been able to see them in real life,” she says.

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