Sunday, April 25, 2004

It's testimony to life in London that I've written not a word on being back. At first I rested, voluntarily bound by the double yom tov (holy days for the end of Passover). Then I was relaxed - maybe overly so - and while I was happy to see friends and hang out with Naomi (a welcome addition to my life these two weeks, a spark that kindled in my final week in Jerusalem), I went leisurely about my India-preparation, putting off any serious planning. Then it came in a torrent at the end of my second week. Meetings and the pressure of having to produce, only I was still meeting with friends. By Thursday I felt like I was chasing myself, perpetually running behind, always rushing. I was ending up half an hour late for meetings in which I was discussing the time-management sessions I'll be running for the Tibetans!

Friday though I met with Cheryl Sklan, a professional trainer and consultant and a friend of Tibetan Jewish Youth Exchange (TJYE), and she put things in perspective. I don't need to take the entire seminar on my shoulders. I don't have to be the expert on everything. I will be in Dharamshala to design and oversee the programme. The outgoing workers, Namsay and Phantok, can work with me as the seminar leaders. I should make as many contacts in the community as possible, and not be afraid to draw people in as facilitators. Basic, obvious stuff, but really useful.

So what is it I will be doing in India? Briefly, there is a Tibetan, Buddhist youth movement there - Lonsgho - which runs clubs and camps for teenagers, empowering and educating them in their culture through informal education. I benefited from something similar in UK Jewish circles. TJYE allows people like me, with a little experience in youth movements, to help the leadership over there to establish Longsho and make it more self-sufficient. As I've come from the Civil Service and their needs lie in specific areas, I'll be leading a seminar on project management, organisation, how to run an office and how to make the most of communications - things like that. I've set up a second blog, simply to monitor TJYE volunteer work (starting with my own).

If all goes well, the seminar will start in Dharamshala in mid-May and be finished by the end of June. As I fly tomorrow morning and don't fly back until the end of July, I have a couple weeks to travel before the seminar and a good month afterwards. Yesterday I flicked through my Lonely lanet guide to India, and salivated at the prospect of barren Himalayan hikes, mountain-top monasteries calved into the rock, the Taj Mahal, the Indus valley, the Manali-Ley highway... I know that people make plans and God laughs, so maybe I shouldn't anticipate so much. But it's hard not to - when before it's sunk in I'll be on a plane propelling me into the unknown.

I have security for when I come back. I interviewed and got the job as Masorti young adults projects coordinator, running educational, cultural, social and community programmes for Masorti Jews in their 20s and 30s. I take over from Clare Hedwat, who did a fantastic job and will be a very tough act to follow. India, I reckon, can only help.

Updates when I can. Keep reading.


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