Thursday, July 28, 2011

Last Day at VSA

One would normally expect the last day at a college camp to be relaxed and chill, filled with activities and goodbyes. However, even though the last day of school had all of that, it also had more. Class today was busy with a field trip and presentations.

We traveled to a Hindu temple today. No pictures are allowed inside the temple, so I’ll try to describe it as best as possible. We first sat and listened to a Hindu women describe their beliefs to us. Though what she was similar to what we learned in class, her words seemed to validate everything we had learned about it. Though the first floor of the temple is bland, the second floor is the complete opposite. It’s a huge room with statues of deities across the walls. The statues were of the incarnations and representations of the Supreme Being (God) in god and goddess forms. They were made of either stone, wood, and marble, and were either in their natural state, plated in gold, or painted a certain color. Each deity represents certain aspects of the Supreme Being, and Hindus pray to the god they need or relate to. For example, one god can represent wealth and power, and another can represent compassion. Though the temple is dedicated to Ganesh, there are about 8 or so other deity shrines. But of course, the biggest statue is of Ganesh. Ganesh is in his own room in the middle of the room, and around it are 16 miniature statues of Ganesh. There were also statues of the gods of astrology representing the 9 planets. The statues were so beautiful and detailed. Every single one of them was different. The Hindu woman told us that there are over 300 million deities of Hinduism!

Back at the classroom, the groups were supposed to present their intra-religious projects to the class. Julia and I had the religion of Buddhism and were to research Pure Land Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism. My side of the project was to research Tibetan Buddhism. Basically, it’s a mixture of Buddhism and the national Tibetan religion of Bön. The main difference between Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism is that Tibetan Buddhism believes in gods, and has another separate religious text called the Book of the Dead. Also, Tibetan Buddhism has the Dalai Lama, which I found is chosen immediately after the death of the previous Lama. It takes 3 to 4 years to find the next one, and the new Lama can be found through dream, vision, or direction of smoke of the cremation of the Lama. After the child is found, the child has to choose the correct object that belonged to the previous Dalai Lama.

Fencing was so intense today. It was our last day fencing, and we played 45 minutes of Castle. As I said before, those guys can get extremely over-competitive. It was them against the girls, and they were not going easy on us by any means. However, we gave them a run for their money and ended up tying with them. Our method was to have one girl start battling a guy, then have another girl sneak up from behind and attack him. We were very slick! I got very into the game, and when it was over, I realized how over-heated and dehydrated I was. I had to take a break for a bit before heading over to the next event.

The closing ceremony took place in the rotunda after our arête. The program coordinators made their speeches and the proctors handed out a couple awards for their group.

The last activity of the night was the Hollywood dance! We all got dressed up and headed up to the rotunda to dance the night away. It was super fun, and we all got slow sticks and glow in the dark glasses. The music was pretty good, and we all had a blast.

Our proctor group decided we didn’t want the night to end, so we pulled our mattresses out into our floor’s common area. We’re having a sleepover! We’re ordering a pizza as I type this and eating tons of junk food while writing in each other’s termbooks. The housemaster showed up to our hangout. We found out that he had never had a gummy worm before, so we forced him to try one and also demanded that we document this important milestone for him. Our plan is also to pull an all-nighter, so let’s see how that goes.

I honestly believe we have the absolute best proctor group. We’re so great. I’m really going to miss these girls!

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