Roshi Joan Halifax is a National Geographic Traveler of the Year

Roshi Joan Halifax via National Geographic

The well-known American Roshi (Zen teacher) Joan Halifax is featured on the National Geographic Traveler website currently. For those who don’t know about Roshi Joan already, heave a look at her wiki page or the Upaya Institute and Zen Center, which she founded and currently leads.

via National Geographic Traveler:


In 1981, when Joan Halifax trekked high in the Everest region of Nepal, she saw a lethally low level of healthcare. Within years of that visit, the socially engaged Buddhist and hospice caregiver launched Nomads Clinic, an annual medical pilgrimage by volunteer clinicians to the Himalayan region. Halifax, now 71, describes the 2013 expedition as a “walking village” comprising healthcare workers, other volunteers, and locals. The medical mission attended to broken bones, severe burns, lacerations, and a range of internal ailments. A mobile eye clinic gave away glasses, acupuncturists eased pain, and physicians dewormed kids. Along the way, the group trained Tibetan and Nepali medical practitioners in the care of isolated mountain communities, donated shoes and clothing, and provided clinics geared to girls, women, and seniors. The Nomads Clinic offers all services free of charge.

“Travel is an opportunity to be on a path of discovery,” says Halifax. “I think the reason our volunteers return again and again is to be reminded of their basic humanity and the joy of giving care.”

—By George W. Stone


National Geographic Traveler: Where is your home base?

Joan Halifax: I’m a Zen priest and abbot of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

NGT: What inspired your work?

JH: In 1980, I went to the Solu Khumbu area of Nepal and saw that there was little to no medical services available to people of this region. Since I worked in the end-of-life care field, I knew many clinicians. So I began to invite clinicians and others to join me in what was to become the Nomads Clinic, an annual pilgrimage to the Himalayan region and Tibetan Plateau to serve in the clinic with others in support.

Read the full interview here, and if you haven’t seen her 2011 TED talk on Compassion, give it a watch:

"People think Buddhists have to be peaceful. The first thing that comes to mind is ..."

In a Buddhist nation: another Muslim ..."
""Mediation"? "Building relationships"? This parodies itself."

Project Sunshine, home of #ShambhalaMeToo, approaches ..."
"As I moved into old age, I have had the fortune to be able to ..."

Buddha’s advice for busy times, a ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment