Lakeside School

During August and July we had a very special visit from Lakeside school, and best way to share it is through the words of the students. Here are some of the very interesting thoughts and impressions that they wrote about their experiences!

Jake Tish (Food and Agriculture)

Experiencing Tibetan culture is like crafting a Thanka painting. It may seem daunting and foreign at first, but once you really dive into it, you realize that it’s beautiful, layered, and teeming with religion. During my month long stay here, I’ve gotten a taste of the Tibetan culture, and I am grateful for everyone that has allowed me to do that.

When I leave Bi Song Gu village, and return to America, I will miss many things. I will miss the sense of community in this place, and how everyone is always extremely friendly. I will also miss hanging out with the people I’ve become friends with on this trip, both the other people who came with me on the trip as well as all the local people I’ve gotten to know. Possibly most of all, I will miss my homestay family. They have been so kind and welcoming to me, and they have made me feel very comfortable here and very at home. From my very first day with them, they were extremely welcoming and I am forever grateful for that.

While I miss some things about being in America, I know I will desperately miss my time here. It makes me think that the expression that says “the grass is always greener on the other side” is very true.

Jake Tish

Lauren Lee (Clothing & Wedding)

This trip taught me more than I expected I would ever learn. Beyond the vast beauty of the mountains, the endless fields of harvest, and the animals that roam free, I’ve found the source that truly keeps this village alive: the people. I’ve met such friendly and kind people who genuinely care for me and my well-being. They’ve taught me how to see beyond just me, an individual, and instead, I’ve learned how to function as a part of a community. At first, I had a difficult time adjusting to the Bisong-gu village. I didn’t know any of the people, I didn’t know much of the language, and I wasn’t used to their way of life. I was especially not used to all of the yak products they ate. Over time, however, I learned more about the daily lives of the people in the village by living with them (though I never got used to yak butter tea). There were some moments that I spent with my host family that helped me to get closer with them and understand their culture better.

One thing I observed was how festive their celebrations are, and how elaborate their traditional clothing is. In our community, the culture was so rich, that I would often get surprised when I saw people dressing in a more Western fashion. One day, we had a small party held at the second floor of our teacher’s house. On this day, many women in the village came dressed in their traditional outfits, and they all started dancing and singing. It was an honor to see their traditional costumes and celebrate along with them. After the party, I was reminded of how alive the Tibetan culture was in the community and how important it was to preserve that. I also had the opportunity to try on the traditional clothes because my host mom dressed me up. When I wore the formal outfit with the headdress, apron, and pink top, it made me feel just a little closer to my host family and the Tibetan culture. I also gained a great respect for all the women who wore the traditional clothing regularly, because I found it really hard to breathe in. Overall, I have been overwhelmed with how much warmth and kindness I have been met with at our village. I am so thankful to the community for giving me the opportunity to experience a new culture. I hope that this handbook can be even the smallest form of repayment of thanks to the community that has given me so much.

Lauren Lee

Nicholas Lumiere (Religion)

Every day my host family woke up a little before six, and went to wash and then to pray and light incense. At seven, me and my roommate would wake up and either go running or read or walk around, the former and the ladder my host family thought were very weird at first. We would eat breakfast between 7:30 and 7:45. At 8:00 our host family would leave for the mountains to pick wild vegetables or to Shangri La town to sell them, while at 8:30 I would go to the trip leaders’ house for our morning meeting, Chinese class, and instruction on the day’s service project. Every day we would be doing some service project in the morning, whether it be building a waste incinerator, working on our cultural preservation project, or helping to tend to the potato fields. At noon, we would report back to the central trip leaders’ house to eat lunch.

After lunch, we would go back to work, either building, laboring, or collecting information, which would be a longer work period than the morning most days, and after which we would come back to the central house to have dinner. After dinner, we would go back to our host family’s house to talk to them and watch TV. Conversation was difficult at first because I do not speak Tibetan, and my host family does not speak English, so we used Mandarin as an in-between language, in which I had a few years of experience, and one of my host brothers was fluent, or very nearly. Around 8:00 PM every day my host family would eat dinner, and every day without fail they would offer me and my roommate some as well. To be polite, despite being full, I would have a bowl or two of rice along with some vegetables or pig meat that they had prepared. Because of the high elevation, I got very tired every day by the time we ate second dinner, so after eating I would promptly fall asleep.

Throughout my time in Bisangu village I was constantly confronted with aspects of life, simple or complex, very different than the one I was used to. From breakfasts eaten around a central cooking stove in the living space, to my family going to the mountains every day to collect vegetables instead of “normal” living styles that I have seen in the United States. Our homestays have left a mark of me like I have not experienced before – not just travelling to a novel region, but to live as the people do, day to day gave me insight that I could not have expected into the varying aspects of the culture. It took a village to make this possible, but the villagers themselves were so warm and inspiring to stay with for a month – it made me appreciate the differences even more.

Nicholas Lumiere

Chandler Moy (Family Structure)

I have always been more of an introvert. All my life, I have found it hard to talk and connect with strangers. This trip however, I found that I was able to step out of my shell and connect with my peers and my host family. I hope that when I get back home, I will keep these relationships. Often times, when I get back home, I’ll find myself drawing back into my shell and the past relationships that I have made will slowly fade away. My hope is that when I get back to Seattle, I will have the courage to strengthen and maintain the relationships that I have worked so hard to build.

I will also remember the many moments that I have shared with my host family. There was one day when we got to work with our host families the entire day. I will always remember waking up in the morning, than eating breakfast, and finally going to the fields to pick up rocks. After a couple hours, our host grandma sat us down and we talked. The most powerful moment of that talk was when she said “look at the three of us, we are just like a grandmother and her grandchildren.” I will always remember how hospitable our host family was to me.

During my time here, I was exposed to the quickly diminishing Tibetan culture. Over this past month, I feel like I have gotten used to the slow-paced life style that pervades the atmosphere here. Instead of the loud noise of the hustle and bustle of cars, there was the baying of the yaks and the barking of the dogs. Instead of the 3 large meals that consist of lots of meat, we had 4 smaller meals which consisted of lots of starch and vegetables. Instead of going to office jobs in the morning, the family went to do their fieldwork or take care of the animals or to find mushrooms in the mountains. I think that the difference between American culture and Tibetan culture is one that made me appreciate both the fast paced lives that we lead back in America, and the peaceful life that my host family leaves.

Chandler Moy

Helen Tran (Food and Agriculture)

I couldn’t ask for anything more than the loving family, breath-taking scenery, and cultural experience that I had gained in this past month. Every day is filled with adventure and anticipation, but is grounded with the daily, huge breakfast, consisting of plates full of potatoes, bread, and eggs, that succeeded my expectations of the family’s hospitality. I’ve never believed that I could find a second family, but my stay here has proved otherwise. The first day in this village, the first time I met my family, I realized that the language barrier was going to be even harder than I thought it was going to be. However, my host grandparents and sisters made adjusting so much easier, I would say even easy.

Many of my favorite moments here, surround hanging out with my family while they go on in their daily life. From herding pigs, making dinner, to just watching television around the stove with them, I always had a good laugh. The times I’ve spent with my grandma will always be treasured. She let me see into her Tibetan culture, from letting me try weaving cloth (that men wear around their legs) to teaching me how to herd pigs and get kindling.

I would say this was an eye-opening experience for me; I learned through firsthand experience, talking to local villagers and doing things myself, rather than just learning about these villagers online. I would say that Bi Song Gu, is the most friendly and welcoming community I have ever been in. As we are about to leave this village, I realize that I will miss so much about the people here and the peaceful, picturesque landscape. I will not only miss my family, but all the people I have spent time with: the family that gave Hana and I dinner at 9, during a thunderstorm when we couldn’t get back home, Ayi, who let me help her cook, even though she knows I’m not very good, and many others. I cannot say this enough, but I will be forever thankful and will forever cherish these memories.

Helen Tran

Finally we wanted to share with you some of the interesting drawings that they made during their stay, to explain certains aspects of everyday life here:

user_20170713_125547user_20170713_125513user_20170713_125440user_20170713_125406user_20170713_125147user_20170713_125113

 

Singapore Students Group

Day 1 Singapore–Kunming– Lijiang

We will be picked up from the airport and transfer to the hotel in Shuhe oldtown. Overnight in Lijiang Shuhe Yuanmeng Jiayuan Hostel.

Day 2 Lijiang – Shangri-la – Bisong Gu village

Drive from Lijiang along the Yangtze to Qiaotou town for 2 hours. We will then continue driving to Shangri-la 2 hours. After lunch in Shangri-la we will be going down to project village. We will settle down in a local family for home stay. Later we will have a briefing and allocation of the work.

 

Day 3-Day 5 Project site

Start on Project and working on the waste pit. Homestay

 

Day 7 – Day8 – Day 9 Project site

Continue working on the waste pit and finish the project. Homestay

689633042006772694
Day 10 Nature Exploration

Day hike from Bisong Gu village to Trinyi village. Stay in Desti Park Youth Hostel for 1 night. Desti Park Youth Hostel

750189771385193847 

Day 11: Drive to Shangrila town and walk around to explore the old town. Afternoon we will learn the Thangka painting for 1-2 hours. Later we will drive back to Bisong Gu village. Homestay

Day 12: Free and easy, later prepare for the farewell dinner.

 

Day 13 Lijiang

Driving from Shangrila to Lijiang with 4 hours. Stay overnight in Lijiang.  Overnight in Lijiang Home Inn.

 

Thanks for your visit!!

Chinese American International School

During April we received our friends from the Chinese International School

Itinerary

Monday April 3rd Day 3 Lijiang / Shangrila

Meet with our guides in Lijiang ! Orientation -including health, safety, detailed procedures, and background information on local destinations !

Drive from Lijiang along the Yangtze to Qiaotou town for 2 hours. We will visit the Tiger Leaping Gorge and trek there for about 2-3 hours and drive to Shangrila in the afternoon.

Tuesday April 4th Day 4 Shangrila

Morning we will drive to Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan, where we add our prayer flags to the thousands of hung colored cloths embellished with Buddhist sutras.  We follow the pilgrims on the kora (pilgrim’s path) around the monastery.   We cap our visit with a private audience with a top lama in his chambers and also meet with little monks to know about their monasteic life !  Songzanlin is often called “Little Potala” for its resemblance of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, the former home of the Dalai Lamas. We will later walk around the oldtown and have lunch there.

IMG_1949

Afternoon is for you to explore around the old town to get to know about the history of Shangrila old town, get to know about the fire and things happening after the fire!

 

Wednesday April 5th Day 5

Today we will drive to Trinyi village which is about 15 minutes drive from the town. We will first settle down with the homestay arrangement. Then we will have the house class – You will visit 2 particular houeses to understand the architecture of Tibetan houses. It will be one old style house, and one new style house in the village.

After lunch in home stay family. We will have farming Class – It is for you to get to know the local farming work, you will go down to the filed to understand the crops they are growing, how it helps for local village’s life, and what’s change of past and present in what they grow.

Later to have a herding Class – It is for you to get to know about Tibetan’s herding life. You will find how they depend on the cattle in daily life and the changes through out of the time. Homestay

IMG_1977

Thursday-Friday April 6th – April 7th Day 6 – Day 7

We will spend 2 half days at the school to interact with local students. (Ringa Community Nursery School is possible to visit as long as it is open, we will arrange 2 halfdays to visit the school)

We will spend the other 2 half days in Trinyi village and help out with following things:

  1. 田里施肥
  2. 种土豆
  3. 捡牛粪
  4. 松土
  5. 放牛
  6. 收牛

Saturday 8th Day 8

We will spend 1 more day at the village to help out below things or to have different activities with local kids since they are at home on Saturday, it could be a basketball match with local students!

1.田里施肥

2.种土豆

3.捡牛粪

4.松土

5.放牛

6.收牛

Saturday night would be cultural night with local people from the village to talk about American farmer’s life (We have projector and screen)

Sunday – Monday –Tuesday April 9th -10th -11th Day 9 – Day 10-Day 11

Thangka Painting Program in Thangka Center. Learning the basic Thangka Painting with the local Thangka Masters with 3 mornings.

April 9th Afternoon we will drive to Shika Mountain and take the cable car to get to the top. If weather permitting, we can visit several Snow Mountain from far view.

IMG_1985

Stay in Guesthouse in Oldtown. ( It is not possible to get students price for cable car tickets , it is 220yuan per person )

April 10th Afternoon we will visit Napa Lake which is the winter ground for the black necked cranes.

IMG_1983

April 11th Afternoon, we will drive to the north to Nixi village. We will visit Tangtoe village where Tibetans are making pottery, and we will also get our hands on that to experience of making the pottery.

Wednesday – Thursday April 12th – April 13th Day 12 – Day 13

2-day trek with 1 night camping.  Camping on 12th

Then we will drive back to Trinyi village for homestay on 13th. .

IMG_1827 2

Evening we will have traditional dancing party and local hotpot dinner with host family. Homestay

Thanks for coming!!

Trinity University Research Group

“Thank you so much for organizing this research trip for us. Our group of faculty and students wanted to study the fauna and flora of Shangrila and you made it possible for us. You arranged the best possible research locations, and insightful meetings with local scholars and researchers. You also took good care of finding wonderful lodging and providing exquisite local food for us. You arranged for us visits to museums and temples, and even a chance to visit local families. This allowed us to learn much more than we could have ever dreamed of. Many thanks for making our stay in Shangrila the best experience ever, and for making us feel there like we feel at home.”

Tour Leader

During the month of June we had the special visit of a group of 7 Researchers from Trinity University who wanted to study the flora and Fauna of Shangrila:

We planned a special Itinerary for this group, so that they were able to research the areas of their interest: we had two days of study at Pudatso National Park; we me Gongba from Shangrila Institute, .who showed us their project site in Napa Lake and talk about the different projects they are doing in the area; we visited the Shangrila High Mountain Botanical Garden, accompanied by one of the local plant experts; we met with a local herder from Bulum Village  at the pasture area in Napa Lake and we visited Yila grassland.

 

We also met with a Thangka painting Master in Shangrila Association of Cultural Preservation, who talked us about Thangka painting (Tibetan Art), and introduced us in the basics of this traditional painting style:

We hope to see you soon again in our beloved Shangrila and its grasslands!

 

 

Australian Students Group China Expedition Project Brief

During December last year we had the visit of a group of 19 students from Australia who did a Tiger Leaping Gorge trek and a watse pit project in Trinyi village

Project: The China Expedition team has built a waste pit for the community of Trinyi in Shangrila. Community Description: Shangri-La also known as Gyalthang in Tibetan. Trinyi Village (Project location) is in the western part of Shangrila County in the northwest central portion of Yunnan Province. Located just 6 kilometers from the Shangrila County seat.There are more than 53 Family with 256 people in the village, the village is surrounded by mountain and barley field. People always wearing their traditional custom and speak mainly Kham Tibetan and a little Chinese.

Each household typically has at least 3 generations living together. Because of geographic conditions, a semi-agriculture society has been the dominant lifestyle in the village for centuries. Many families raise livestock. Each family runs more than 10 animals include yaks, Dri( female Yak) Dzos (cross animal) sheep, horses, pig and chickens. The majority of agricultural yields are consumed locally. Locals earn a living largely through manual labor such as construction, harvesting local mushrooms and medicines that has been planted in recent years. Women in the area generally stay at home and manage the homestead and also supplement the family income through selling livestock and products such as butter, yak by-products and dried cheese. All the houses are traditional Tibetan house, constructed with earth and wood with 2 floors, (tradtinaly the downstair part is for animals and second floor is for people, now both floors are for people to live and they build small hut for animals closed to the houses).

This projected implications is very important for the local Environment. Currently, there are very few waste pits in the village that local people can disposal their life garbage. The garbage is thrown everywhere including into the river. Traditionally, Tibetans are using all kinds of natural friendly containers such as the wooden bowls, bamboo basket, leather bags that has no harmful to the environment. In recent 10 years, they have started using the modern plastic bags, glasses and bottles. Because the most village residents are technically illiterate. The official illiteracy rate is 85%. Children are getting the family education through generations and doing what the elders have been doing through the years. They have no awareness of these life garbage would harmful to the land. They are throwing these garbage as traditionally to everywhere. Therefore, a waste pit changed their behavior , a very important behavior that can make big change to their life. The waste pit the group built can burn the garbage at the same time. The group completed some of the following task in project days:

 Dig foundations and lay rocks and cement

 Move the bricks to the project site

 Complete brick walls

 Paint

 Paint the wall

 Start with the drawings on the wall

We also did a fantastic trek in Tiger Leaping Gorge:

 

 

Chinese American International School Trip

During April we had the visit of the Chinese American International School to Shangri La. We, from the April 2nd to April 15th.

WeChat_1462155025

We visited Kunming and Lijiang, after which we drove along the Yangtze to Qiaotou town for 2 hours. We visited the Tiger Leaping Gorge and trek there for about 2-3 hours and then drove to Shangrila in the afternoon.

In Shangrila we visited Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan, where we added our prayer flags to the thousands of hung colored cloths embellished with Buddhist sutras. Songzanlin is often called “Little Potala” for its resemblance of thePotalaPalaceinLhasa, the former home of the Dalai Lamas.

We also visited Napa Nature Reserve for the black-necked cranes.

We did a homestay at Trinyi village, where we visited  2 particular houses in order to understand the architecture of Tibetan houses.  We also had a farming Class, a herding Class, a cultural night with people from the village, and we spent 2 and a half days at the village school to interact with local students.

At Trinyi village we helped  with following things:

  1. 田里施肥
  2. 种土豆
  3. 捡牛粪
  4. 松土
  5. 放牛
  6. 收牛

We also held a 2 days Thangka Painting Program in Thangka Center, learning the basic Thangka Painting with the local Thangka Masters.

WeChat_1462155026

Finally we did a 2-day trek with 1 night camping after which we had a traditional dancing party and local hotpot dinner with host family.