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Travel Tales: From New Orleans to India

August 31, 2007

Kathryn Hobgood

Eight students from the Tulane School of Social Work will have a rare opportunity to live and study in India on a month-long expedition that will become the nexus of the pilot for a new television show.


Mani wheels, which contain hundreds of thousands of Tibetan Buddhist mantras, offer a form of walking meditation and observance. Tibetans believe that with every turn, positive karma is sent into the world.

Accompanying the group is Bill Delano, a documentary filmmaker and Travel Channel host of "Not Your Average Travel Guide."

Delano will document the group in their daily activities as students, as social workers and as visitors in a new land. His footage will be developed into a pilot episode for a television series that explores the transformative power of travel.

According to Ron Marks, dean of the School of Social Work, the thrust of Delano's documentary will be "the development and growth of our students, both personally and professionally and the linkage between the two, as a result of the experience of the India expedition."

Led by Marks, the group departed on Aug. 27 for Delhi. The students, who will receive course credit, will travel around northern India. In addition to visiting other locations, they will spend two weeks in the small Buddhist town of Dharamsala where they will live, work and study with the Dalai Lama for three days.


Lobsang Darjy, center, who fled Tibet nine years ago, is a teacher of Tibetan medicine and astrology, and a master teacher of sand mandalas. The monk on the right, visiting from Bhutan, is a reincarnated lama. (Photos by Ron Marks)

The students will journal about their experiences, which will include working with orphans in the Tibetan Children's Village, consulting with the Tibetan government in exile and learning about traditional Tibetan medicine from the Dalai Lama's personal physician.

They also will spend time at Center for the Dying and Destitute in Delhi founded by Mother Teresa and in the sacred community of Tso Pema.

Marks notes that the participants in the class are all members of the first class to apply to the Tulane School of Social Work in the post-Katrina era.

The student participants are Marin Casselli, Michael Clark, Jessica Davis, Jessica Forstall, Brandi Glaspie, Jennifer Hoskins, Rachel Lazarus and Andrea McCarver.

Documentarian Delano will return with the group to New Orleans in late September to conduct post-trip interviews with the students about how the expedition transformed them.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000