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Back from Domkhar...

We just got back from our week-long stay in Namgial’s village, Domkhar. I think we all felt privileged to spend time with the residents of Domkhar. The town consisted of about 400 people living along the Indus river with the barren steep mountains in every direction. It really was quite peaceful.

We arrived in the late afternoon last Sunday and we were quickly welcomed into Namgial’s house. Shortly thereafter, all of the homestay families came to pick the students up and take them to their new home for the week. This being the first homestay students that the families have ever had, Namgial was asked frequently about the students’ needs; the most common of which was “what do I feed her?” All worries were quickly dispelled when the students enjoyed their first bowl of kolak, a dough made of butter tea and barley flour commonly eaten for breakfast.

We spend the majority of our days at the Domkhar Dho Government High school, which educates students from the first class up through the tenth class. The headmaster, Tashi Tundrup-le, was extremely welcoming and ripe with ideas of how his students could benefit from our presence. Although we were all a bit nervous about these expectations, we all welcomed the opportunity to give back to this community. While at the school, we conducted some fruitful English conversation interactions in groups of all ages. The students taught basic computer skills. We also played an exciting game of volleyball and chatted with the teachers about the U.S. and Ladakhi education systems.

Possibly the most memorable project we participated in was a day-long river cleaning effort. Domkhar is divided into three sections Dho, Barma, and Gongma. This project called upon each area to mobilize, come together, and take care of a common resource –the river. The school(s) in each village participated and students of Domkhar Dho as well as the Global LAB team were divided into three groups to join the other towns’ students in the communal effort. From witnessing how inspired the students were to clean up their home, to hearing them chant: Chhu Bor Shigste, Nyat ma nyo! Tugu Shigste, Gyot ma Nyo! (tr. Stop polluting the water! It invites disease!) to sharing laughter and butter tea along the way, we all had wonderful experiences that day!

Overall, the headmaster, teacher, staff, and students of Domkhar Dho Government High School seemed to find our participation at school beneficial. I know the Global LAB students gained valuable insight from these experiences and we hope that we contributed some useful knowledge; I believe we did. This belief was supported by the fact that the students, teachers, and headmaster continually asked us interesting and engaging questions about our experiences as U.S. citizens, as travelers, as students, as educators, and as individuals.

Tomorrow morning we are heading to Tso Moriri and Hemis, where we will spend the next four days exploring some of the nomadic plains of Ladakh!