10 college students in recovery, committed to living a sober lifestyle in recovery, have an opportunity to fulfill a noble purpose while experiencing a fascinating cultural in an exotic part of the world - Tibet.
Nomads of Tibet are offering a "Service Learning Trip"
The team at TreeHouse Learning Community and The Pureland Project are excited to once again host this clean and sober trip for college students and friends of TreeHouse interested in an extraordinary journey led by highly qualified guides into one of the most fascinating cultures on the earth. We expect participants will find deep meaning and be inspired by every aspect of this trip.
Dates: May 16, 2016 to June 1st, 2016 ( 17 days)
Price: *$2200 plus airfare to and from Chengdu, China (CTU).
Trip Leaders: Margaret “Meg” Ferrigno PhD founder and Executive Director of the Pureland Project.
Molly McGinn PhD. Managing Partner,TreeHouse Learning Community, Shamkhun our Tibetan guide and translator
Meg voluntarily organizes tours to raise funds for Garchen Rinpoche’s village school projects which she manages under the Pureland Project. Meg speaks Tibetan and spent several years in Tibet at Gargon. She has her doctorate in Sustainability Education from Prescott College.
Molly is the co-founder of TreeHouse Learning Community in Prescott and Tempe. She is in long-term recovery, has her doctorate in Anthropology and did some of her fieldwork in Tibet. She taught at the Academy of Science in Chengdu for a year in the 80’s before working in Tibet. Shamkhun, a Tibetan tour guide who lived in Canada for a decade will co-lead the trip.
The Trip to Tibet
The area of Tibet we will journey to is known as Kham. It is considered the wild west of Tibet, inhabited mostly by nomads. The rugged mountains are not hospitable to any other way of life. Tours to the region are quite rare, yet as roads are being built, the area is seeing rapid change.
This trip is not only designed to share the precious wisdom of Tibet and expose people to its sacred spirit, but also to show the Tibetans how valued and respected their culture is by the outside world.
We will engage the Navajo and Tibetan and Recovery communities in conversations on resiliency in terms of cultural and environmental and spiritual sustainability for recovery in many forms.
We will begin the tour in Chengdu in Sichuan Province of China. Chengdu a culturally rich and diverse city in the Western region of China. We will be meeting with college students at the Minorities College there to speak about the issues of cultural sustainability and how the Tibetan situation relates to issues facing Native Americans.
From Chengdu we will fly up to Yushu in Qinghai and travel by van to Nangchen, Kham. We will stop in Yushu to see Tibetan resilience in action and observe how the city is rebuilding from a devastating earthquake
Our time in Nangchen will be spent primarily at the Monastery of Gargon and in Gargon village with the school communities. We will do yoga, learn traditional crafts and help students create exports that will support their schools in the future.
Every day we will begin with Tibetan lessons, and end with a 12 step meeting or “circle”. During the day, our adventures will range from hikes into the mountains, to tours through historic monasteries. From Gargon we will head back to Chengdu via Yushu.
We will have a final celebration dinner in Chengdu before boarding our flights back to the US on June 1st. Most students will be returning to Prescott for summer school while others will be heading for home visits.
Itinerary and Deadlines
Air Travel: We will work with students and parents to select flights May 16th to arrive in Chengdu on May 17th. Molly and the TreeHouse team will be flying together or in small groups starting either from Prescott/Phoenix or from San Francisco. Some students may be coming from a home visit and meet in San Francisco.
Participants will arrive in Chengdu, China (CTU) on May 17th and to depart Chengdu, China on June 1st.
A $500 deposit will be due to the Pureland Project by March 11th to hold your spot. This trip is limited to 10 students. Final payments of $1,700 will be due on March 31st.
Requirements: Students and leader and any participants must be drug and alcohol-free and abstain from any and all use of mind altering substances. All participants will be given a portfolio of 10-12 articles to read that cover the foundational aspects of the culture, history and politics of Tibet.
May 17th meet in Chengdu. We will pick you up at the Chengdu Airport. We will stay two nights to rest in a great little youth hostel where you can connect with other travelers and explore this city. Readings will be provided for participants to complete before their arrival.
May 17-19 in Chengdu: We will take the day to explore Chengdu and experience the different cultures that live here. Attend Talk by Native American group leader and students accompanied by a documentary film.
Attend a talk by Tibetan professor and be part of a panel discussion on cultural sustainability. Evening time sharing or cultural songs and dances.
May 19 Chengdu to Yushu: After a Chinese breakfast, we will take the 1.5-hour flight to Yushu (Jeykundo-Tib.) http://www.plateauperspectives.org/yushu.htm. Jeykundo is a fabulous little town where we will overnight. This district center was leveled by an earthquake in April of 2009. We will take an hour to do khora circumambulation of some holy sites in Yushu and learn about the history of the region.
May 20-21 Yushu to Nangchen to GarGon: We will then depart for our 4-hour drive to Nangchen (Sharda- Chin), where we will have lunch and take a stroll through the town some have likened to the wild west!
The next four hours in the jeep will be incredibly scenic as we leave the beaten path and enter the truly nomadic regions of the borderlands. We will reach the monastery in time for dinner, meeting some of the community with whom we will spend the next week of study. For more information, click here.
We will spend our days hiking and working with the village children to help them learn English. We will be working on greenhouse projects with the local villagers and learning from a skilled agriculturalist about high altitude growing and harvesting techniques.
During this time we will stay in the lower monastery, taking hikes to different sites. These is one of the most exotic and remote cultural experiences possible for young Westerners.
May 30th GarGon to Yushu: We will say our goodbyes in the morning and drive to Nangchen for lunch and make it to Yushu for dinner. Students can explore town and take hot showers.
May 31st flight Yushu to Chengdu and final dinner celebration:. We will enjoy our last night together over hot pot. We will have a closing circle and reflect on the big experience we will certainly have had.
June 1st Those who are headed back to the states will be taken to the airport for their flights back and those who have arranged to stay on and travel in Tibet or other areas of China may continue on from Chengdu
Expectations and Conditions
This trip includes 4 days on the road. In order to reach the monastery of Gargon, the group travels over roads that are long, bumpy, and dusty. We may need to cross rivers in jeeps, wait for landslides to clear, push our vehicles out of sticky spots or make detours. The altitude is high, the food choices are limited, and the group may camp for one night. Hot showers are mostly in Chengdu and toilets on the road are mostly outhouses. The travel is challenging and rewarding! Stamina, patience, and good teamwork are required. Students will learn to become skilled international travelers. Any student with some wilderness experience will feel at home. Photo opportunities are unparalleled.
All students who come must agree to total abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Many of the participants will be in a program of recovery and there will be 12 step support and meetings while on the trip. All participants will be drug tested prior to departure.
*The $2200 is if payment is made by check or money order. There will be a 3% processing fee for those paying through PayPal with a credit card.
*Additional personal expenses: RT Airfare to Chengdu, China (CTU) China from SFO/LAX approx. $1100 as of 2/18/16. Chinese Visa $130 Personal travel Insurance (1 month) $80. Spending Money $300
All participants will be expected to have a valid passport in order to obtain the Chinese visa which is necessary to travel to Tibet. In order to obtain or renew an American passport please click here.
If you are applying, you will need:
1. the paper form which is included on this page
2. one passport photo
3. $110- $200 by check or credit card, fees depend on services (The cost of a new passport is $110, in a rushed situation you may pay upwards of $200.)
Things to consider: The normal expedited service takes 2-3 weeks or a rushed application may be filed in person at any regional passport centers for an additional $60. Check here for locations near you. https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/information/where-to-apply/agencies.html
The area which we are traveling is considered Qinghai. Province of the People's Republic of China, we will not be traveling inside of any autonomous regions where special permits are required, therefore we will simply travel on the Chinese visa. WE will provide information to help you apply for your Chinese Visa.
Please follow the instructions carefully. Each participant is responsible for obtaining their own visa, though please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. We will be sending out information by March 7th with a link to the Pureland site on where to sign up and make a deposit for the trip.