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Students tutor Tibetan refugees in India

In December, 14 DU students spent four weeks volunteering in Dharamsala, India, which is home to about 20,000 Tibetan refugees.The work was part of Project Dharamsala, a 5-credit course that integrates classroom theory with active learning.

The 12 undergraduate and two graduate students spent about four hours every day doing volunteer work, including tutoring English and conducting research for the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

“It was rewarding to be able to teach a skill you knew would improve the quality of life for Tibetans living as refugees,” says sophomore psychology/biology major Peter Reding. “The teaching was not one-sided. I learned more about Tibet, courage and gratitude from my students than anything I could have taught them.”

The interaction with Tibetan and Indian people helped the students gain insight into the culture and history of India and Tibet. For example, four of the students participated in a chakra healing course.

“This was a great opportunity to consider the alternative approaches that have existed for ages in the Eastern tradition,” says Reding, who intends to go to medical school.

“I hope as I continue learning, I will always remember to look at different points of view,” he adds. “Project Dharamsala influenced me to be a doctor for the right reason — to serve others rather than myself.”

“The trip is a personal journey for the students,” says Community Action Program Director Glenn Fee, who led the group along with philosophy Assoc. Prof. Roscoe Hill. “It helps them to figure out their place in the world.”

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