i love creators. looking to collab in any way imaginable.
"Am I being racist or Orientalist when I culturally appropriate things from the East?
If you are fascinated with a culture and its people because it represents the exotic and the foreign — in short, because it being different makes it “cool” and “edgy” […] then, yes, you are being Orientalist.”
ALL Western Tibet Supporters must read this. The “Tibet” tag on Tumblr is a perfect illustration of what the author is discussing (think: Tibetan tattoos on Westerners, Western Buddhists taking on Tibetan names and criticising Tibetans for not complying with their standards, fetishizing Tibetans and Tibet generally as “beautiful” and “spiritual”, going on about an overwhelming desire to “escape” to Tibet and live in a monastery, …
"Is Orientalism racism? Yes. Is idealizing Tibet and Tibetans and defining what they should be based on western fantasies "Orientalism"? Yes." From Overlooking Tibet - https://www.facebook.com/OverlookingTibet
"Thus, almost from the moment of first contact, the West established a unique and specific relationship with the East — one that still impacts and influences our conceptions of these regions today. In this relationship (as defined by Edward Said), the West is the “Occident”: the norm, the standard, the centre, the fixed point around which the rest of the world orbits. The East is, by contrast, the “Orient”: the abnormal, the exotic, the foreign, the Other defined specifically by its deviancy from the Occidental, Western norm.
Importantly, this relationship — what Said terms “Orientalism” — draws upon exaggerations of both Occidental and Oriental traits in order to create an Orientalist fantasy that is a fictional recapitulation of both East and West. Western men are reimagined as universally Godly, good, moral, virile, and powerful — but ultimately innately human. By contrast, those traits that best serve as a counter-point to the Occidental West are emphasized in the West’s imagined construct of the East: strange religions and martial arts, bright colours and barbaric practices, unusual foods and incomprehensible languages, mysticism and magic, ninjas and kung fu. Asia becomes innately unusual, alien, and beastly. In Orientalism, Asia is not defined by what Asia is; rather, Asia becomes an “Otherized” fiction of everything the West is not, and one that primarily serves to reinforce the West’s own moral conception of itself.
It is also important to note that Orientalism historically arose both from an attempt to “honour” Eastern cultures as well as to redefine them for the West. Orientalism purports to be a faithful recreation of Eastern traditions and peoples, but actually draws upon real practices and traditions to create an Eastern construct that is largely exaggeration and myth. Thus, it is highly fallacious to presuppose that cultural appropriation motivated by fascination with (rather than malice towards) the East renders the cultural appropriation innocent; in Orientalism, the fascination is, itself, part of the problem.”
Reblogging because of the amount of people who say ‘I’m a Buddhist’ under the false assumption that one can just up and ‘be’ a Buddhist this week. The same people who don’t know the difference between Hinayana and Mahayana, between a Khenpo and a Rinpoche, between Shinjē Gyalpo and hungry ghosts. Step down.
Hey there! Thanks for both of your messages - I’m going to answer the second half as I think it’s the only part I can offer advice on :)
I was not prepared for the poverty. I was not prepared for the crippling lack of infrastructure. I was not prepare for the roadside bombs during the elections. I wasn’t really prepared for the chaos, nor for being constantly ill. I was not prepared to deal with the level of animal and human suffering I was confronted with every day; that I was unable to change or even influence.
However! It was my first time in a ‘developing’ nation - having gone from traveling Japan and Western Europe, it was always going to be a shock.
There won’t be any bombs, nor violence in general, now that the election is over. As a Westerner, be sure to stay away from the areas controlled by UCPN Maoists - jungle and mountain regions, but very off the beaten track (therefore not likely to ever be an issue).
Illness - Kathmandu is one of the most polluted cities on earth - if you’re going to be there for any length of time, learn the medical names for various antibiotics that you may need in the event of dermal or chest infections (detailed information here) . Be clean. Be really clean. Constant hand-washing. Wear a mask. Get an antibacterial mouthwash and use several times a day to kill throat bacteria that may cause problems. Anti bacterial hand gel - litres of it. You may get sick from eating food cooked in unclean water (food poisoning from vegetables is more likely than meat in Nepal). The first few times you ‘eat local’, it’ll make you feel a bit rough. Do it enough, and you’ll get used to it. Under no circumstances must you drink anything except bottled or treated water. Etc, etc, etc. Overall, just don’t worry! Have a support network so you feel looked after if you do get sick, and just rest like mad and drink a lot of water if you end up feeling shitty.
The final thing is the human and animal suffering you will see. Specifically, the animal suffering. I tried to make a difference when I was there. I rescued an abandoned kitten from a rooftop, surrounded by the rest of the dead litter. I stayed up all night as it died it my hands. I couldn’t do anything. It was not a good day for me. The same goes for the stray dogs, abandoned puppies, dying cows in the street… the list goes on. I was so infuriated by what I saw that I ended up also volunteering at an animal rescue centre (KAT). I saw things there that I don’t want to talk about, because I don’t understand how humans can be so sickeningly cruel to living creatures. Everything else - the sickness, the disorganisation, being scammed and touted to by every person I passed, the street children, the homeless… It was the animals that got to me. Because I couldn’t even save a cat that was one day old. Really, really brace yourself for that, more than anything.
All of the above seems really negative, but as you asked about the bad experiences I wasn’t prepared for, I feel duty bound to tell you that the good outweighs the bad one hundredfold. You are doing something valuable and meaningful with your time and your energy. You are putting others first at a time when so few can or will. You’re going to love it. Make friends and take photos! I hope you have the best time. There’s a ton more stuff on http://blog.rebeckawolfe.com about my time volunteering in Nepal - all of it is practical advice written to help people who are about to do something similar. Enjoy! x
I’m lucky enough to receive weekly emails from people interested in volunteering at Buddhist monasteries in Nepal. If you’ve read the blog post I’ve made about the experience, you’ll know there are a few individuals I have warned people to avoid at absolutely all costs. Said individuals are extorting money from volunteers and witholding said ‘donations’ from the monasteries to which they should be paid.
If any of you, whilst searching for in-roads to volunteering in Nepal, come across ‘Nepal Volunteer Direct’ or a man named ‘Chris Fraser-Jenkins’ or his assistant ‘Sagun’ - avoid, avoid, avoid. This man was removed from a larger company’s volunteer program for every manner of insane, bizarre behaviour - not to mention ‘absorbing’ funds that should have been going directly to Buddhist monasteries. The website is below: read away, by all means, but do not be fooled. I actively requested to be removed from the control of my volunteering program because of Fraser-Jenkins’ insane behaviour.
If you want to volunteer and are having trouble with direct contant (DIRECT - you, the monastery, and no middle man) then drop me an email - I have contacts in Nepal who can put you in touch with monasteries, and these contacts do not take a single penny - they simply introduce you and serve to make sure you’re looked after while out there (should you get sick, they’ll take you to the doctor/pharmacy, if you need a place to stay, they have business contacts with various hotels and hostels). My contacts save my ass in Nepal and are good people - not to mention the fact that they are members of the Manang Buddhist community themselves.
Nepal is rife with extortionists, scammers and thieves. Don’t be fooled by their chat. Talk to people who’ve been out there before, do your research, and enjoy making a positive difference.
My Nepal info posts can be found at http://blog.rebeckawolfe.com - feel free to email me if you have any questions at all! I hate to resort to warning people away from certain ‘organisations’, but I’m not being libelous nor accusatory - just honest.
I just need to point this out: ‘Sherpa’ is an ethnic identity, not a job description.
The people who lead you up the mountain are guides. The people who carry your load are porters.
The guides are often members of the Sherpa ethnic group. One of the many that make up the Nepalese population. They are from the ‘Everest’ region, hence their intricate knowledge of and experience in mountaineering.
Sherpa does not literally mean ‘the job of guiding tourists through a mountain pass.’ Okay. Thanks.