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María José in India: "The nerves vanished immediately".

María José in India: "The nerves vanished immediately".

María José with several students from the NGO
María José together with several students from the NGO

If she had to keep something from her trip, Mª José would be clear: “I was delighted to learn about the way of life and thinking of the Tibetans”. In November, this Barcelonan collaborated for 15 days with the McLeod Gang giving English classes to Tibetan refugees who have fled the horror. “I am glad that there are NGOs like Tumaini. It is important to know the reality of these places and collaborate. Sometimes we are too involved in "our bubble" ”, he explains.

What is an ordinary day like for a volunteer in the project?

The volunteers and volunteers we taught English for two hours a day: at 11 am, to people with a lower level; and at 17 there are refugees who already speak this language. The project coordinator created a calendar with the topics to be discussed each day. That allowed us to prepare the classes. Later, some of the volunteers would get together to have coffee or tea, have dinner or do some activity. I met people from many countries, that allowed me to learn a lot from other places!

In addition, many volunteers we handed out flyers of the Tibetan music, dance and culture show that was done in the project every Thursday. I met several people who loved this NGO; some even spoke to the coordinator because they wanted to collaborate!

Volunteers give conversation class to Tibetan refugees
Volunteers and volunteers give conversation classes to the refugees

What did you like most about the experience?

Know the way of seeing the life of Tibetans. They have firm beliefs, a very kind character and a very peaceful outlook on life.. They see the positive side of things, even though they have been through tough and difficult situations. They are very motivated to learn English and are very constant in it.


And the least?

I stayed at the NGO because I wanted to contribute financially to the cause, but the room was quite cold! Also, right in front there was a disco with very loud music until 11.30 pm, so it was difficult to sleep until they closed. But these two things didn't stop me from having an amazing experience in India, I consider them minor inconveniences! The room had amazing mountain views, which made me wake up every day in a very good mood.

The NGO offers a music and dance show every Thursday. Do you think it is a good way to introduce Tibetan culture?

I found it very interesting! Yeshi, the project manager, briefly tells the history of Tibet and then there are various dance shows and Tibetan instruments. At the end of the show Yeshi taught us a couple of typical dances to the whole group, it was a lot of fun!


If someone had doubts when making a solidarity trip to India, what would you say?

That he follow his desire to make this trip to India and forget about fears. McLeod Ganj is a very safe city, full of spirituality and much to see and do. You can enjoy the tranquility of nature a few kilometers from this city and it also has spectacular temples nearby.
Mª José with other volunteers in India.
Mª José with other volunteers in India.

You also collaborated for a couple of days in cleaning natural spaces. How was the experience?

Good! It is a hiking route where, In addition to walking, we were collecting waste. I met very interesting people, concerned about the environment in India and about making the population aware of its care. During the route you chat with people from other places, and this is very enriching!


Do you think that people who visit the area are careful with the environment?

A lot of waste is seen both in urban areas and in green areas and this is very sad.


Did you expect the trip like this? Did it meet your expectations?

I did not imagine how the classes were going to be and I admit that I arrived with some fear. I liked the format of talking about a different topic every day because, In addition to practicing English, I learned about the Tibetan vision of life.. Nerves immediately vanished seeing the kindness of the Tibetan people!

Mª José in the hiking and waste collection project
Mª José in the project of hiking and waste collection.

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