Being at Secmol is like being in your very own Bollywood movie: we rather frequently break into song and dance. Bus rides to Leh entail music that thumps so loudly, all passengers resonate to the beat in an unintentional jive, forcing smiles on everyone who boards the bus. And days the cook has off, furious frying-pan-and-rolling-pin inspired dance moves rampage the kitchen as everyone helps make the meal. Even today whilst scrubbing all the carpets and sheets on campus, dancing ensued in big wash basins and along the banks of the Indus.
It’s unclear what the correlation is between characters in Blockbuster films randomly breaking into dance and Ladakhi general tendency. All I know is that students here are always finding a reason to dance and sing, finding the joy in almost everything. The abilty to be easily pleased is the reason that students here are generally pretty happy, especially in contrast to America or most western countries where high schoolers are full of angst and plight (me having been no different).
Many foreigners come to volunteer in India, and people here welcome everyone and want to learn whatever newcomers have to tell. But so much can be learned from the people of Ladakh and greater India that they, too, should come to western countries and volunteer. Yet I know this probably wouldn’t work because A) it’s improbable westerners would be recepetive to Asian ideologies and B) most of the people here don’t realize the many assets they have. Unfortunate but true.
And the people here have so many assets! Other than being happy, the students here are more respectful, responsible, and disciplined than any 18 year olds I’ve ever met. They do difficult (and often tedious) tasks to the best of their ability and only have complaints about not being allowed to wake up at 5:30 am. Students treat compete strangers with respect and warmth. And all possess the rare trait of seeking to understand before being understood. I’ve learned so much from them in my short time here, and I wish everyone I knew had the opportunity to learn these under-valued things.
Thus I strongly urge you if you ever come to Ladakh to visit the NGO Secmol. Solar-powered and ecological, the institution mainly works in boarding and schooling students who have failed their 10th classes exams. In addition, the NGO promotes environmentally friendly practices, encourages innovated farming and entrepreneurship, and aides in any other capacities it can for Ladakh’s growth. It’s run with both intelligence and heart: a rare, necessary duplex.
If you’re looking to star in your own real life Bollywood film, look no further than Secmol in Phey.