My Nepal Experience

A large part of the overall trip experience had to be the traveling. We spent a good amount of time on planes and in airports half-delirious and sleep deprived. Arriving in Abu Dhabi airport was my first experience of culture shock on the trip, being surrounded by a culture other than your own and trying to use pleasantries of your own language only to realize that they don’t speak your language (a bad habit that lasted at least 3 days).

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Our initial entrance into Kathmandu after picking up our luggage was a little surreal. We were all tired and it was very dark when we got into the van and rode through the city to Hotel Himalaya Yoga.

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After exploring the city of Kathmandu for a day, we flew to Dhungadi and prepared ourselves for the proceeding four days in the village of Dhumaliya. We were given a small language book, a lesson of simple Tharu phrases, and new Nepalese names. (Jada > Jyoti or lamp).

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Our village experience was the most surreal experience I have ever had. Upon our first entrance into the village, we were greeted by everyone and walked to the current school where we had a very long, but very impressive ceremony. We introduced ourselves, we thanked the village as they thanked us, and we did a lot of dancing. Once the ceremony was over we met our host families and we set off to our homes for the next few days. Lily and I had a host family of 4 (mom, dad, Asmina, and Samir).
We were given our own own room with a surprisingly comfortable cot, a table to put our bags on, and they were setting up a light for us as we entered their home.

That first night we bonded with our host brother and sister as well as the neighborhood kids almost immediately. There was a lot of laughing and confusion, but with Sinead and Lauren as our neighbors, we all got together and played volleyball-esque game with the neighborhood children.

After surviving our first night of dinner with our family (and others who had came to watch us) and running out in what felt like the middle of the night (but was really only 10 o’clock) to go to the charpi (latrine), we had breakfast and half of us headed out to do some cultural learning. We visited a temple and learned more about the Hindu religion and we went fishing (using large nets) with the village people.

After lunch, my group started on the worksite. We sifted sand, carried (heavier than they look) rocks, and rhebarbed the afternoon away.

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The Nepal trip included a lot of hard work and long days, but it was something I would have never been able to do otherwise and I will cherish it forever. I’m very much looking forward to next spring break.

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Michael’s Service Reflection

This year I have been peer tutoring two freshmen in Spanish, and our experience is one that is very meaningful to me. Being half-Argentinian, Spanish is the language of my grandparents and also the one that my dad grew up speaking. I have always wanted to achieve fluency in Spanish because the language is such a large part of who I am, and i truly enjoy helping other students improve as well. The world is wide open to those who are bilingual, a fact that I know not only from my time in Argentina but also from the last two weeks I spent in Peru over spring break. It is one thing to visit another country to try and understand it’s culture but it is another experience entirely (and a far more rewarding and enriching one) to be able to communicate with the people of that nation and see their world through the daily lives of those who actually live in that country.

And this is why I find our peer tutoring sessions so rewarding, the fact that I can help fellow student develop a skill that allows them to expand their world, interact with people from a different culture while charing a common language. Speaking Spanish allows for opportunities abroad, better job options in their careers, and also an increased knowledge and respect for international cultures. It becomes harder to ignore the problems plaguing the international community when you form connections with new friends abroad, and becoming bilingual is an excellent way to ensure that one never loses sight of the world around them. I’m very grateful that I can share this aspect of my culture with other students and give them the opportunity to experience the world empowered and enriched by a second language.