Transitions Abroad Magazine January/February 2007 Vol. XXX, NO.4
Issue Focus: Short-Term Jobs, Internships, and Volunteer Programs Abroad
FeatureGeocaching: Global Hunts Lead Travelers to Treasured Locations
If you’re game for exploration, education, and local interaction read on…Kelly Amabile introduces us to new high-tech scavenger hunts that are catching on all over the world. With more than 330,000 GPS-enabled quests designed for adults and kids alike, you’re guaranteed to find one worth pursuing on your next trip abroad.
Back Door Travel by Rick Steves
The Resourceful Traveler by Tim Leffel
Senior Travel by Alison Gardner
Local Encounters by Michele Peterson
Short-Term Jobs, Internships, and Volunteer Programs
by Susan Griffith
Asia and the Pacific Rim
Trekking the Himalayas Larry Morgan
Ethical Travel in China Gareth Davey
Dreamtime Travel: Australia Margaret Ambrose
Arranging to Stay with a Host Family Michael D. Kerlin
Japan’s Healing Waters John Lander
Auroville: India’s Unique Township Gemma Alexander
Cultural Lessons in Kerala Caroline Wagner
For the Smile of a Child: Cambodia Sara Schonhardt
Wildlife Volunteering in Thailand Erika Wedenoja
Stay on an Organic Mulberry Farm: Laos Johanna DeBiase
Responsible Shopping in Hanoi Sherry Gray
Volunteer in Nepal Claire Varley
Abroad at Home
Travel to Eat
Activist Responsible Traveler
From The Editor
Himalaya: Personal Stories of Grandeur, Challenge, and Hope is one of those rare books that crossed my desk and enthralled me. The stories of Sherpas, mountaineers, physicians, philanthropists, and monks stoked my interest in visiting this exalted region. More than that, they incited my desire to know more and do more to help preserve this region, which faces mounting challenges, such as loss of biodiversity, eroding cultural traditions, lack of education, poor health care, and political unrest.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama writes in Himalaya, “I hope that with increased awareness both of the treasures that exist in this part of the world and of how easily they may soon be lost, we may see more concerted efforts to restore the Himalaya as a zone of peace and to regain the natural conservation that once prevailed there for so long.”
While Himalaya is as compelling as I write in my review (page 12), what made the deepest impression on me are its stories of Tibetan refugees. Since the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet in 1949, Tibetans have struggled to keep their culture intact and regain their freedom. An estimated 150,000 Tibetans have risked their lives to escape Tibet, fleeing political, cultural, and religious oppression. In Himalaya Tshering Dorjee, The American Himalayan Foundation associate field director, tells the story of Taga, a 22-year-old man who joined 15 other Tibetans to escape to Nepal. Like many Tibetan refugees, Taga’s group fled in winter, traversing the most commonly used route: over the Himalayas, through the nearly 19,000-foot Nangpa mountain pass. On this crossing, Tibetans face life-threatening risks, including hypothermia, snow blindness, frostbite, and the possibility of falling.
A number who make the journey are children, as in Taga’s story, in which he refused to leave behind two young girls who could not keep up with the group.
Tragically many Tibetans, especially children, do not make it to safety; even some of those who do are arrested, interrogated, tortured, and imprisoned—or, at times, fired upon by Chinese security forces, as is reported to have happened on Sept. 30, 2006, when a Tibetan Buddhist nun was killed and the rest of her group taken into custody. At the time of press, details were still emerging from this incident, which is receiving more public attention than usual, largely due to the fact that it took place during peak climbing season when there were said to be some 40 witnesses.
The escape into exile is a daunting one, as is the Tibetan situation at large. Yet, there is hope. Many who have traveled to Tibet or met ethnic Tibetans in Bhutan, Dharamsala, and Ladakh or in Tibetan refugee communities in India or Nepal have become ardent supports for Tibet.
This issue’s cover photographer, Cedar Bough Saeji, traveled to Tibet in June 2006 with her husband Karjam Saeji, who comes from a family of Tibetan nomadic herders. Karjam left Tibet nearly a decade ago to become a traditional Tibetan singer and dancer. They returned to his hometown, Ahwencang, to make a 3-month trek across Tibet to Lhasa, following a traditional Tibetan Buddhist custom “reflecting a level of belief that ignores modern conveniences like the newly inaugurated railroad [China’s railway to Tibet],” says Cedar. “To my husband, this is a journey to teach me a deeper, truer understanding of Tibetan culture, of what it means to be Tibetan, the pure Buddhist believe that has driven thousands of feet before ours.” To read more about Cedar’s trip, see the “Trek” section of her website (www.cedarsphotography.com).
If you are interested in traveling to Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet has an informative article on ethical travel in Tibet on its website (see “About Tibet—Travel at www.students forafreetibet.org). It also has a comprehensive “action center,” as does SaveTibet.org.