In December 2009, JBI really took flight. I based myself that visit in
Delhi, visiting our friends at JNU, who became our first Board Members,
then traveling north to Ghazipur and Bodh Gaya. It was still not clear what
shape our projects would take and who our collaborators should be. But I
was learning more about Indian cluture, about my friends' direct
experiences of the caste system as Dalit youth, and about Dr. Ambedkar's
vision of social change. We were creating something brand new.
Some amazing connections happened on this visit, and looking back I can
still not believe our good fortune. In Bodh Gaya, Sachin arranged some very
informal workshops at The Ambedkar Hostel, and we had English classes up on
the roof of their dorm. It was a lot of fun, and a way for us to pilot our
materials. And I enjoyed exploring the Land of the Buddha's Enlightenment
with Sachin and his team. It was a very magical visit.
I led workshops in Ghazipur as well, at a project for girls, but we did not
continue this collaboration. And then back in Delhi, Maitriveer Nagarjuna
and I met up with a fellow Buddhist from San Francsico, Tempel, who was
leading an Asian tour with American youth. We traveled with them in north
India for a bit, around Delhi and in Saranath and Bodh Gaya. It was a
wonderful spontaneous trip, and in that group I met Peter, who has created
JBI's website and contributed his talents as a designer and core member of
our US-based team.
I did a lot of traveling on that visit. After exploring the north, I made
my way southwest to Kerala for our first Jai Bhim Kerala retreat with Arun
and his team. And then I headed south east to Chennai to meet Arun's friend
Jayasridhar, "who we call "Jagan", and his team and students at Sakya
Hostels. This was the beginning of our ongoing projects in South India, and
our current focus. Jai Bhim International was beginning to blossom!
*Dayamudra, August 19, 2014*