The title of this blog post is Tibetan: "Thanks for coming here!" and is among one of the many phrases that I am learning in preparation for March. Many thanks to Willy Oppenheim for providing "Say It In Tibetan," by Norbu Chophel.
If you are new to the blog, thank you for reading, and be sure to read further via the links to older posts on the right-hand side of the page.
The first fundraiser for Golok Sengcham Drukmo (GSD) is set for February 22, 2009 from 6pm-10pm at the Wescustogo Hall in North Yarmouth, Maine. It is a Contra Dance and Silent Auction to fund my remaining travel costs, generate a donation to the home, and fund the recently created scholarship for the girls at GSD. This is going to be a fun and lively evening filled with excellent music by local artists who have generously donated their time and talent to this cause.
Lots of thanks to Fred White, Sandy Davis, Jeff Raymond, Julia Plumb, and Doug Protsik who are the musicians and caller (Doug) for the dance, and have provided me with helpful advice for the planning and facilitation of this event.
I am heading out into the greater Brunswick area this week and next to ask for item donations for the silent auction; if you or your business are interested in gifting an item, please let me know (email@example.com).
Other features at the Dance & Auction will include a raffle and the sale of original Tibetan clothing items.
Buy your tickets at the door: $8/person, children under 15/free; family and first-time dancer friendly! Refreshments will be provided.
I am advertising this event on all the local network television stations, The Dance Gypsy, online community calendars, local newspapers and newsletters, and in local businesses. Tell your friends and bring your dancing shoes; this will be a really fun night!
On another note, February 12, I will be presenting to the Friends of Curtis Memorial Library (CML) a proposal concerning the specific implications of their partnership with the fledgling library at GSD. I am preparing for this meeting with the help of Liz Doucett, the director of CML, who has been great to work with. In preparation for this meeting, I am answering the following questions:
1.) How many books per year will CML send?
2.) Is there an appropriate space for holding the books?
3.) Will money be allotted to the care and upkeep of the books?
4.) Will this be a sustainable relationship between GSD and CML?
The Book Swap Project (separate from CML) is now under way with Susie Knowles' 5th Grade Class at Longfellow School in Brunswick. I presented the plan to the class on Monday, and sent a letter for approval home to the parents. The kids seem excited to start writing pages for the book based on topics of their school day.
I still have yet to nail down a publisher, but have several promising connections, one of which I'm sure will be solvent.
On the topic of connections, this month has been full of meeting new people and establishing relationships that are already proving to be enriching in more ways than one.
I was in California during the week of Jan 12 visiting a school in Carlsbad who flew me and another Omprakash volunteer (Vance Walstra, Peru) out to talk to their students about self-designing philanthropic projects. The Pacific Ridge School advocates that the students, during the last three weeks of their senior year, self-design and implement a project that will create a link between two communities while garnering interest for the student's chosen place of service.
While there, I made several connections with different students and educators that are really exciting to me. Students: Anisha with Otesha, the girls for VOICE, Chiara, David, and various other self-motivated service learning students with great ideas for projects. Educators: Steve Le, Namir Yedid, Scott Silk, Merle O'Neill, and Todd Burckin from Pacific Ridge, Teanna Evans from Calavera Middle School and the rest of faculty at Pacific Ridge were all very interested in bringing the world to the classroom through dynamic means and with an attitude for service.
Steve Le's eighth grade service learning team at PRS fund-raised to buy a Flip camera for me to document my time in Tibet in video format; many thanks to the PRS eighth-graders for this wonderful gift.
Ari, a student at PRS, is working with fellow students to write a book teaching the Tibetan girls how to play baseball, and will be fundraising to send baseball gloves, bats, and baseballs along with me to Tibet for the girls at GSD. Good luck to Ari and his peers.
Good neighbor and friend, David Barter, is in the process of pushing a proposal up through the ranks of his company to ask for 10 laptop computers as a donation to GSD. Thank you, Dave!
I spoke with members of the Tibetan Women's Association and hope to establish a connection between the Tibetan Women's Leadership Program and GSD. I also spoke with CEDAW, Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Canada Tibet Committee to see if they have any suggestions for me and for broadening the reach of my project.
I emailed Nicholas Kristof, well-known journalist of the New York Times, whose interest in women's issues prompted me to ask him to write an article about the Golok Sengcham Drukmo Home, in order to raise interest and awareness about education as a means to tackle the problem of the marginalization of women in Tibet and greater Asia.
I created a profile on YouthActionNet in preparation to apply for their fellowship when it opens on February 15, and have found myself receiving emails from peers-- Moses from Sierra Leone and Peter from Zimbabwe who are passionate about changing the world. I am interested in hearing more about their projects and I'm sure that what I learn from each of them will be inspiring stimulus for thought.
Approximately 65 letters went on their way earlier this week to friends and family all across the US, raising awareness for the project and asking for funding to complete my travel costs and donate to GSD.
Other providers of invaluable support include my family members (especially Mom and Dad,) Rick Wilson at Brunswick High School, my boyfriend Sam Read, and best friends Julia Knowles, Alyson McDonough and sister, Madeleine, who will always be my number one proof-reader for these blog posts.
It's also amazing to see just how much networking can happen while making conversation with friends and acquaintances, old and new. Thank you to everyone who has provided me with invaluable tips and anecdotes, keep them coming!
I received my first stack of beginner English books from a student at Bowdoin College; those books are sitting on top of a box full of Tibetan clothing items that will be for sale at the fund raising events. Thank you to Dockpo Tra (founder and director of GSD) for providing me with the clothing.
On my "to do" list:
-Continue working towards a second fundraiser event, a Movie and Discussion Night with a simultaneous book drive. The Tibetan Women's Association has graciously donated the documentary movie "Voices In Exile," which would be a great generator of discussion; there is also a movie out there called "Daughters Of Everest," which is a story about four Tibetan and Chinese women who were the first women to scale Everest, and is a great microcosm of women rising to the top in the face of extreme barriers. Hopefully, this event will become a reality, and I look forward to the good discussion it will generate.
-I would like to contact Stephanie Goodell and Michelle Lepore with Tibetan Women Leadership Programs to obtain a tool called the "Wellness Wheel" that is designed to give young Tibetan woman a holistic sense of their personal well-being, instead of measuring themselves by the standards of a society that is largely in favor of marginalizing women.
-Dockpo Tra, the founder and director of GSD, has a business plan in mind to build a hotel near the home in Tibet, the income of which will provide for the expansion of GSD to incorporate 70 more girls, creating a total inhabitancy at the home of 100 girls. With his permission, I would like to help Dockpo obtain a small business grant to get the building of the hotel started. I did a little research into the Gates Foundation, and think we may have an option there, but I need to do some more digging.
On a personal note, there is now little over a month between now and my departure on March 9 for Tibet. Mixed feelings? Yes, but I am much more anticipatory than not, and trying to keep a cap on assumptions or projections of what life will be like in Tibet. I know only this: it will be the culture shock of a lifetime. Please continue to send emails, letters, and well-wishes, it is such a delight to receive them.
I have a couple doctor's appointments this month to receive vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever and Rabies. I don't have to receive a Malaria vaccination as I will be living at 13,000 feet above sea level, and at a climate that is too cold for the Tsetse fly, the carrier of the Malaria disease, to survive.
I am in the process of applying for my Chinese Visa, which will permit me to travel in the Tibet Autonomous Region, which is in China.
And yes, as per the title of this post, I am beginning my foray into the Tibetan language which is proving much less difficult than I previously thought, due largely to the book Willy gave me.
More updates to come as they arrive, like the status of my proposals for sponsorship to LL Bean and The North Face, as well as a request for donation to the scholarship fund from the McKeen Center For Common Good on the Bowdoin College campus.
On an esoteric note, I just finished re-reading an old favorite, "The Sun Also Rises," by Ernest Hemingway, and I include this quote as a call to arms for everyone who is of a similar mindset, and to those who are not, from Hemingway's character Robert Cohn;
"'Listen, Jake,' he leaned forward on the bar. 'Don't you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you're not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you've lived half the time you have to live already?'"
"Should I save or savor the world?"
If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world.
This makes it hard to plan the day.
This makes it hard to plan the day.