Monthly Archives: August 2009

Finishing up China

Since my last post here, a lot has happened. I am back in Colorado Springs and have been since the beginning of July. Among other things, I have moved into a new apartment, begun my training at the Admissions Office for my job this fall, met with my advisor about my Economics thesis, overseeing The Sound of Colorado College’s move to a new studio on campus, and spent plenty of time speaking to numerous folks about my post graduation plans. Life is

Monks at the largest Tibetan temple in Yunan Province. We visited this while in Shangri-la.

Monks at the largest Tibetan temple in Yunan Province. We visited this while in Shangri-la.

busy, but good. It is good to be back State-side. Before I launch into blogging about the summer, let me finish up my trip to China.

My final week in China was perhaps the most incredible of all. My last post was from Lijiang in the Yunan province. From Lijiang three friends and I separated from our program’s trip to finish on our own schedule. Our route took us from Lijiang to Shangri-La (only named that because the Chinese government wanted to create a tourist attraction). The town is also known as Zhongdian, but the area is noted as being very close to the Shangri-La described in the book, The Lost Horizon. From here we took a bus though winding mountain roads to Deqin. Deqin is about 80% Tibetan and going through a decent amount of construction despite the remote nature of the place.

Tashi's Mountain Lodge in Reringka village outside of Deqin.

Tashi's Mountain Lodge in Reringka village outside of Deqin.

We stayed 15 minutes outside of Deqin at Tashi’s Mountain Lodge. Tashi’s is a foreign trekker friendly guest house in a recently renovated Tibetan home. We arrived to find a beautifully rugged place that was run at the time by a couple from Italy, Phillip and Silvia. The two had stopped there a few weeks ago to find a job and ended up abandoned by the Tashi’s local staff who had retreated for a few months to the mountains to collect caterpillars that were supposedly full of medicinal value. From Tashi’s, we gathered information on a trek to a remote village, Yubeng, not accessible by road.

We payed a driver to take us to Xidang where the trail head for Yubeng is. We stayed a night with a Tibetan family in Xidang. Our host was a friendly older couple who spoke a Tibetan dialect. We communicated with hand gestures. The next day we began our 6-7 hour hike to Yubeng. The trail was surprisingly full of trekkers and locals. We had to hike over a mountain before we could drop down into Yubeng. Although cloudy, the top (before our descent into the village) was one of the most rewarding moments of my life. The magical scenery combined with the warmth of the Tibetan people gave me a whole new sense of China.

Our host in Xidang. We didn't know how to say her name, but she seemed to respond to the last part which sounded like "de ma."

Our host in Xidang. We didn't know how to say her name, but she seemed to respond to the last part which sounded like "de ma."

We stayed that night in Yubeng under two peaks that were unlike anything I had ever seen. As one visitor to Tashi’s had described, “It is mountain paradise.” Words are hard to find when thinking about this place. I will let a few pictures tell the story. At the same time, this is not a place I want to spoil with too many pictures for those that ever make it there.

Yubeng borders the official Tibetan Autonomous Region. The two peaks we slept beneath in Yubeng (as well as the larger, Kawa Karpa, which is not visible from Yubeng) are considered by many to be the guardians of the Himalayas. Kawa Karpa is a holy mountain and visited frequently by monks. From here, my friend Harry and I seperated from our other two friends, Liz and Allyssa. We moved onto much more travelled locations in Guilin and Yangshuo.

To be continued…

At the top of the hike to Yubeng

At the top of the hike to Yubeng

Me overlooking parts of Xidang. Very, very green!

Me overlooking parts of Xidang. Very, very green!

Among the prayer flags near the top of the hike into Yubeng

Among the prayer flags near the top of the hike into Yubeng

A look at lower Yubeng below the peaks

A look at lower Yubeng below the peaks

One of the guardian peaks of the Himalayas. This one is called Shenyufeng (6054 meters)

One of the guardian peaks of the Himalayas. This one is called Shenyufeng (6054 meters)

The first Tibetan we met in Yubeng - joyful and wearing a Jordan shirt. Being from Chicago I was happy to see my hometown hero's influence reached this far!

The first Tibetan we met in Yubeng - joyful and wearing a Jordan shirt. Being from Chicago I was happy to see my hometown hero's influence reached this far!

Summer Internship

I have started an internship with the El Pomar Foundation (EPF). EPF has one of the largest endowments in the Rocky Mountain Region, granting approximately $25 million annually to Colorado nonprofits. Most nonprofits focus either on granting out money (like a Foundation) or on community stewardship (like running programs). EPF is unique because it has a dual facetted approach, incorporating both grantmaking and community stewardship. As the programs intern, I work on eight of their programs in various capacities. I conduct Community Impact Visits to organizations that have received grant money, I write reports on past years’ events, and conduct data analysis. It keeps me pretty busy, but I absolutely love what I’m doing.

On top of all that, I love the location. During the school year, I don’t spend too much time off CC campus.. Working at EPF has allowed me to get to know a completely new area of the Springs, which is breathtakingly beautiful. El Pomar is closely tied with the Broadmoor Hotel, and its executive offices are on the hotel’s property. I a block away from the Broadmoor at the Penrose House. It’s just close enough (6.5 miles) to comfortably bike to work. In fact, with all the stoplights and traffic downtown, it takes almost the same amount of time to bike as it does to drive. The Penrose House is the estate of the founders of EPF, Julie and Spencer Penrose. EPF bought the house in the early nineties to use as offices and provide a free meeting space/conference center for nonprofits. Working in such a beautiful place makes me excited to come to work every morning…that, plus I love my job and the people I work with.

penrose-house

The Penrose House...where I work! (photo from EPF website)

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Two of eight deer laying in the front lawn of the Penrose House