Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Elizabeth Lyzenga Waterman

Elizabeth Lyzenga Waterman, faculty member since 2000, passed away yesterday evening due to complications with Lupus. A service will be held on Saturday, March 14th at 1:00pm. The service will be at:

St. Matthews United Methodist Church
435 Central St
Acton, MA 01720
(978) 263-2822
All are welcome.

There will also be a service this summer at the Alumni Reunion in August. Please contact Frederick Martin (603)-899-6689 or Betsy Waters (978-537-7267) for details on this Saturdays service.

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More Pictures from India

Finished momos- ready to sample- we made veggie, spinach, potato and chocolate! Students promised to make them back in the states for those who want to try them!

Making momos (Tibetan dumplings)

Many students have met with "language conversation" partners at Gu Chu Sum, an organization which provides education and lodging for former political prisoners. Here is Michelle with a nun she tutored named Pema-Pema escaped from Tibet in 1991 after participating in a non-violent
protest against the lack of religious freedom.

Becca with a little friend at Yong Ling School

Luke and Moon doing touch-up painting on a mural at Yong Ling School

Becca spins a giant prayer wheel behind the home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on our "Kora" (circumambulation of holy sites in Dharamsala).

With new friends at the Golden Temple in Amristar

Global LAB and the Meeting School in front of the 17th Karmapa's temple. We met with His Holiness the Karmapa in a private audience and asked several questions to him. A photo of our visit with him will be coming later. He is one of the most revered teachers' in Tibetan Buddhism and is only a few years older than our students. He fled Tibet to seek a religious education in India in the year 2000.

We met with former political prisoner, Ama Adhe who told her life story which included 27 years in prison in Tibet. We shared the visit with students and leaders from Global LAB, the study abroad organization Michelle works for. Ama Adhe's life story may be read about in the book: The Voice that Remembers, available from Wisdom publications out of Boston, MA

Every Sikh Gurudwara (Temple) has a Langar- a community kitchen where all people are welcomed to come and eat together. We volunteered in the kitchen helping roll and sort chapatis. Moon got special instructions from a very determined teacher!

At the Golden Temple in Amristar, the most sacred place for people of the Sikh faith

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Update from Dharamsala

Hello TMS friends and Family-

On Day 4 here in Dharamasala we have had a busy but very interesting day. We had the honor of a visit with His Holiness the 17th Karmapa this morning where we had a chance to sit and ask questions to a revered young Tibetan lama who holds a position of enormous respect in the Tibetan Buddhist community. He fled from Tibet at age 14 when I was teaching a Tibetan Studies class at TMS about ten years ago! Little did I know when reading about his escape at that time with my class that I would be visiting him with TMS students some years later.

This afternoon we visited the Norbulinka Temple and Arts Complex in lower Sharamsala where we got to see artisans learning the classic Tibetan arts, thangka painting, applique, metal work, wood work, and more. Upon our return to Upper Dharamsala (where we are staying) the students got to meet and move in with their home stay families. All the families have children and the TMS students have been very eager for this opportunity to build connections with local people through a direct experience living in a local home.

Some students have started individual courses (like yoga and thankga painting). We also will be starting a mural repainting project tomorrow at a local school where students can spend some time in the classrooms as well.

I have lots of pictures to share

I think it is fair to say that Dharamsala is our favorite place so far- it is a treat to be here. We are learning a lot and having fun too. Last night we saw a film about a Chinese govt attack on Tibetans escaping over the mountains and this morning we passed one of the Tibetans who appeared on the film on the street- the students were so surprised but also pleased to see that the man had made it safely into exile and to have a chance encounter with him as he walked his young daughter to school (at the school where we will be painting murals... ) There are so many unique opportunities here. It is a gift to be able to help these unfold.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Golden Temple in Amritsar

We visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Golden Temple is the most important religious site for the Sikh faith. In Sikhism there is a belief that everyone is equal. The Golden Temple provides food and lodging 24-7 for anyone who wants or needs it. The temple serves 50,000 meals a day. Anyone is welcome to come and eat for free, not just Sikhs. Many people volunteer in the kitchen each day cooking and cleaning. We helped sort Chapatis into stacks and then put them into big metal buckets. We also helped roll out chapatis and shaped dough into balls. Chapati is a whole-wheat flat bread similar to a pita.
There are five symbols of Sikhism.
1) Long Hair- the Sikhs believe that hair is the gift of God. Cutting ones hair would be destroying God's gift. Men braid there hair and keep it wrapped in a turban. They also tend to have a lot of facial hair. Women only have to cover their hair when they are in a temple.
2) A Comb- to keep the long hair neat and to remind one of good hygiene. All of the Sikh people I saw were very neat and clean in their appearances. It's a big part of the faith.
3) Undershorts- Sikhs wear a pair of undershorts under their clothing as a representation of chastity and faith to ones spouse. Sikhism is not a religion that encourages or accepts polygamy. The shorts also remind one of that.
4) A Sword- Sikhs carry a small sword to represent the duty to defend those in need. Some Sikhs carry big swords, but they are purely symbolic.
5) Silver Bangle- A simple bangle is worn on the working hand to remind Sikhs if their faith and the responsibilities that come with it. Sikhs do not drink or smoke, they are accepting of others.

We arrived in Dharamsala two days ago. It is the home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. There are also thousands of Tibetans living in Exile here. Many people flee over the Himalayas out of Tibet seeking religious freedom.
Yesterday we met with a woman named Ama Adhe. She lives on the top floor of a building that houses newly arrived refugees and helps them get on their feet. Ama Adhe spent twenty-seven years in prison in Tibet and China. She stayed in a work camp with three hundred women. All but four people died of starvation there. They were only given three cups of broth each day and they were worked to death. Ama Adhe came to India in the eighties(I think). She told the Chinese that she was going to visit her sister in Nepal and that she would bring her sister back with her, Once in Nepal she asked for asylum and then went into India. She has been telling her story for many years and had a book written about her life called "The Voice That Remembers".

Five of us students are going into home stays tomorrow. We will be living with a Tibetan family for a week.This is a wonderful way to get to know Tibetan people and to understand the culture better.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Pictures from the India Group

A highlight of our time in Varanasi was visiting the Little Stars School
for orphans and street children , we sang , danced and played with the
kids there and fun was had by all!

Ron Adam and Michelle on a boat ride on the Ganges just past sunrise

Mani and Becca enjoy a cycle rickshaw ride from the old city of Varanasi
to Assi Ghat.

The Bodhi tree of Bodh Gaya

After 20+ years of marriage Ron and Michelle renewed their wedding vows in
Bodh Gaya on the Mahabodhi compound, near the temple and tree at the site
where the Buddha was enlightened. Luke, Adam and Nathan all helped with
readings... :) Their 21st anniversary will be on March 6 and Michelle will
still be in India then and Ron back in the US.

Always the trickster, Luke catches the sunrise over the Ganges in Varanas

Moon with a prayer candle on the Ganges boatride

Mani visits with an older student at the Gurgaon School for the Blind ,
near Delhi

The Group at the India Gate