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Mateusz's experience in India: "It has been very rewarding to collaborate and live in McLeod"

Mateusz's experience in India: "It has been very rewarding to collaborate and live in McLeod"

Mateusz travelled with Tumaini last September to India for just over three weeks. There he participated in the two Projects with whom we collaborated in McLeod Ganj and was able to learn more about Tibetan culture. In this post he tells us how he experienced it:

"During my stay in McLeod Ganj I tried to combine the two projects, working in the mornings in the kindergarten and in the afternoons in the conversation classes. Every day I got up early and went to the kindergarten where I was from 9 to 12:30 and at 4 o'clock I used to have English classes.

At the kindergarten we didn't stop because there were so many children. Although at the beginning I was a bit confused, I adapted to their dynamics and learned a few words to be able to relate to the children.
It was a special experience, I had never helped in a nursery before and I was surprised to receive so much love from the children. Some of them became my favourites and I missed them when they got sick and couldn't come. 
I also liked the English classes very muchI couldn't go every day I would have liked to. I was very pleased to see that I could help them with what little English I knew. They struggled every day and overcame their fears when they had to expose the topic we discussed earlier. 
Talking to them also helped me to get to know them, to know what they had been through and to learn more about their culture and way of life. They were always very grateful when we came to class to help them. 

The experience was very rewarding, not only because of the projects we were involved in, but also because of living in McLeod.. Strolling through its streets or eating in its restaurants was special because of the people you met. 
Restaurants like the Shangrila, Potala or the Seed Cafe made the difference in the way you were treated by the people who served you. You no longer cared if you had to wait for an hour or if the dish was too spicy. Seeing their smile made your day. 
I remember going to the Seed Cafe on my own one afternoon and sitting and talking to Dhundup, the guy who runs it and with whom I got on very well. You could tell that his life had not been easy. He told me, that afternoon, how as a teenager he had crossed the Himalayas with his friends. How he went at night afraid that they might be caught or shot in the back. Later, in India, his life was no bed of roses either. He had problems finding a flat and a job. He even lived in the forest for a few days. 
He also told me how difficult it is for him to live here alone, without his parents and older siblings. He felt that in McLeod he is not fighting for Tibet, that he is just trying to make ends meet and that the real struggle is there. I remember he was very emotional when he told me about it and I was at a loss for words to express what I was feeling.
For me, it has been an incredible experience and one that I hope to repeat in the future".

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