We have a new volunteer at the school, Lakshmi will be teaching English and IT. She has agreed to send us updates from Ladakh. She has just left to go to the school and sent us this short piece to introduce herself.

“As I sit and contemplate my upcoming stay and volunteer position at the Druk Padma Karpo School, I have many doubts, worries and questions. Despite these, I am looking forward to Leh.

My father grew up in Kerala, on the west side of the most southern state of the Indian subcontinent, a coastal sliver of a state that many people have never heard of before. I am half Indian and half American and, since I was born and raised in the U.S., I have been in India for the past 2 months, learning about my heritage and visiting family. I am going to Leh not only because I have heard it is beautiful and because there is a school with a different mission regarding education (than the standard Indian government schools), and they are willing to take on volunteers, but because I would like to learn more about all of India.

The beginning of my stay in Leh will mark the halfway point of my travels from the U.S., and instead of being a tourist, traveler, or some combination thereof, I am looking forward to being in one place for an extended period of time, while also having a purpose. I am looking forward to learning more about Buddhism and meeting children who can speak more languages than I ever dreamed would be possible. I’m also looking forward to connecting on a level that goes beyond linguistic and cultural barriers.

Despite my reservations: Will I be warm enough? Will I be lonely? Will I be able to teach anything of substance? Will they understand me? Will I understand them? Will they like me? In any new place or situation the truth is I don’t really know what to expect, and ultimately, I am going to DPKS not only to teach, but to learn what it means to be Indian, while also being Tibetan, Ladakhi and all the other ethnicities, regions and religions one may identify with. I am going to gain a sense of the many differences between and among Indians, help out as much as possible, and perhaps discover my own Indian-ness.”