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).
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.
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).
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.
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.