"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.

E.B. White

Saturday, April 18, 2009

everything looks perfect from far away


I had a dream two nights ago that involved me waking up in the middle of the night, wandering outside, hijacking Dokgun's car, and navigating the bumpy streets of Darlag, desperate to find a Walmart so I coul
d buy popcorn. It was so vivid that I swear I could almost smell the musty plastic of American's favorite corporation (at least it's better than AIG) and I woke up wondering if any of it was true. I'm pretty sure that popcorn will be my first American purchase once I've stepped foot in JFK in a month. After I use a real sit-down toilet.

We are well-past the halfway mark of my stay in Tibet, and
time has flown. If time is tangible, then I'm blaming the wind for how quickly these weeks and days have gone. Since it is not tangible, then I blame the wonderful and unique personalities of the people here who have given time wings.

A big thanks to Lynn Hasselberger and I Count For my Earth, an organization dedicated to inspiring dialogue between kids and families about their environmental impact. Lynn has generously agreed to donate 10% of purchases from her website (
http://www.myearth360.com) to the home here in Tibet if the buyer enters code "Geneva" at check out.

Lynn's website has fantastic, earth-friendly home products and you can serve two great causes at the same time by shopping there! You can also follow Lynn on Twitter @icount4myearth.

I was sitting outside on the steps last week, enjoying the sun and the company of the girls at lunchtime, when I heard the most pathetic yelping and whining coming from the direction of the front gate. It was the sound of a puppy, and I looked around to see if anyone else was worried by how miserable this invisible little dog sounded. No one moved. I started in the direction of the gate, worried that I might find a puppy in pain, or maybe an angry older dog, but instead I rounded the side of the house to see several adult Tibetans standing and staring at a dirty bundle of fur who was tied on a 2 foot string to a heavy piece of debris. The puppy was tugging and pulling on his rope, trying desperately to escape the choke-hold of the ratty string while under the apathetic stares of his onlookers.

I went over and offered him my hand before loosening the string embedded in the puppy flesh around his neck, and he calmed down, finally sitting down next to me while I chatted the little guy up. Meanwhile, the Tibetans watching gave me the most incredulous look
s, akin to the response I would expect in America if I walked up to a raccoon and asked if he wanted to be friends. Whatever, the puppy and I get along so it's a match made in heaven as far as I'm concerned.

On Sunday, April 26, we hiked a nearby mountain to erect new prayer flags. This was quite an event for me and the girls to participate in, because the Tibetan culture never allows women to approach, much less erect, the prayer flags on the mountains. Because Dockpo's family owns this particular mountain (a gift to his father from a nomad family), Dockpo is able to bring the girls up the mountain as well. It was a beautiful, meaningful, and exhausting day. There are two full albums of pictures on Facebook and I encourage you to check them out!

The climb itself was fine; I am fully recovered from my illness, so I felt almost no effects of the altitude and was able to enjoy the ever-increasing view of Darlag, the mountains, and the Yellow River in the next valley as we drew closer and closer to the sky. Once at the summit, we enjoyed periods of intense, perfect sunlight, followed by harsh storm clouds and heavy hail. Rinse and repeat.

When the wind became so intense several hours later that the smaller girls were finding it hard to remain standing, I took them back down the mountain, supporting Niemkah
Dorma, one of the girls who was feeling the altitude and had fallen, hitting her head on a rock. We'll finish the prayer flags next week, and I cannot wait to go back up.


  1. I hope that you will keep this blog live so that others may stumble upon your Tibetan adventures after you have completed your journey. There is so much to learn from your words.

    Also, what is the rationale to keep women from presenting new prayer flags on the mountain? Just curious.

  2. Hey Geneva,
    Its Emily from Omprakash Service Learning Group from Pacific Ridge School(with Mr. Le). I am sending a message from all of from the group. We just wanted to let you know how proud we are of you. We love (<3) knowing your doing something good for the community in Tibet. We appreciate all the hard work you have been doing and can't wait to hear from you!!! We miss you and wish you good luck!!!!! :)
    Emily and Service Learning Group <3

  3. Hey Geneva, it's Lena from Ompraksh Service Learning Group at Pacific Ridge. I'd just like to say that it is great what you are doing, and I think that it is great that you went to Tibet with such an open mind. If there is anything that we can do to help, please email us. We love reading your blogs! Again, if there is ANYTHING we can do, please email Mr. Le.


  4. Geneva - I think a few of our high school juniors at my school are interested in doing a book drive for your library - and some of my elementary-school-librarian friends will donate books they are taking off their shelves, although some of them will not be able to do this until after you have returned from Tibet. I'd love for you to be there when the books arrive, but I think I should send them all at once (near the end of June) - will that be ok? love to you - Auntie Shelley