Cultural Tourism Projects
English Classes at the Center This project has brought many local students to the Center for our free English Classes. Students are from local elementary and High schools. We have had several young students who have not been able e to complete high school and have joined the family business in the Old Town. This has been a very popular activity and been successful community building and interest from our neighbors in the Center activities.
Craft Table in the Town Market Square has just opened in the Town Square featuring authentic local crafts. This is the first of its kind in the town and the Center is the proud sponsor and organizer of this new feature.
The Sun Shade Table Umbrellas are now completed and ready to present to the village market vendors. These sun shades are made of white canvas and are decorated with Tibetan symbols often seen on Tibetan tents. They are replacing at least some of the local nylon umbrellas advertising drinks and electronics with a more “authentic” local look for the town square.
The Old Town Heritage Signs are ready to be handed to the local Shangri La town planning commission. They will be placed on the remaining Old Town Ancient buildings. This is an effort to recognize, honor and preserve these lovely relics, some as much as 300 hundred years old. This project was done in partnership with the Town of Shangri La and YMHF.
The Yak Butter Tea Demonstration was the initiated by Berit Klandt, volunteer March-June 2008. Berit thought that tourists might be drawn to the Center to learn more about this traditional local Tibetan drink. She placed flyers around town and waited. The results were great and even though Berit has left Shangri La, the project continues to draw visitors to the Center. Carissa and Leslie have continued to post flyers and promote the project and entertain new visitors every week who come to taste Yak Butter Tea and learn more about local lifestyle and food.
The Shangri La Herb Collection was begun by our volunteers this spring. It is an ongoing project meant to share information at the Center with our visitors. It will include a display of dried herbs harvested locally as well as a description of the nutritional and medicinal value. At the onset of the project documentation was covered for some principal herbs used in traditional Chinese Medicine. We have changed the direction of the project to one based more on local information and lore with research from scientific sources for a comparison base.
Our Phrase Book for the Local Tibetan Dialect was begun this spring by our volunteers to provide a base for simple dialogue with the village people we meet. Some villagers only speak the local Tibetan Khampa dialect. With this phrase book YMHF hopes to provide a base for better interaction in our field work. The book is under construction with the English phrases chosen, Chinese characters in place, and a sketch of the Tibetan to be added. We are working on appropriate transliteration of the sounds of the local language.
Micro Enterprise/Poverty Alleviation Project
In August 2007, two expert bee keepers were sponsored by YMHF to introduce the tradition of bee keeping at high altitude in a local village near Shangri La. Although it has not been a tradition in the area, it seems that the pristine environment would be ideal for such a project. After the August training and particularly long, cold winter in Shangri La, the first hives were introduced in the village. To date the villagers have learned much about bee keeping and the project looks like it may be successful as a poverty alleviation activity. YMHF has provided funds to support the training and bee colonies. The first harvest will be modest but looks like a promising project for the village.
Training for the Bee Keeping Project began in August 2007 at the Handicraft Center. It included training at the Center and in the village
Rushan Cheese Project YMHF has provided a small grant to village partners to fund the training for the production of this cheese product. Although it is part of the local diet, it is not made locally. The farmers plan to use local Yak buttermilk instead of the traditional cow’s milk for production of this product.