Lee’s documentary Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey follows 700 people making a trek across the Himalayan Mountains for a spiritual pilgrimage that aims to inspire global environmental responsibility.
by Ada Tseng
Though she was born and raised in California, Taiwanese American documentarian Wendy J.N. Lee has been volunteering in the Himalayas for many years.
“My parents have always been world travelers, and they’re involved in a lot of charity projects abroad, so I grew up aware of that part of the world,” says Lee.
Many of the monks that she has known all her life were featured in her debut feature documentary Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey, about an organized trek of 700 people walking across the Himalayas to spread awareness about the “3rd Pole,” a glacial region that is in danger due to global warming. Padyatra means “journey by foot” or “foot pilgrimage,” and these journeyers are led through harsh climate conditions and crumbling terrain by H.H. the Gyalwang Drukpa, one of the main Buddhist spiritual leaders of the Himalayas, recipient of a United Nations MDG Honor, and initiator of this “Eco-Pad Yatra.” For a couple months, they went from remote village to remote village, collecting plastic bottles and garbage, and educating people about living a more environmentally-friendly life.