To the ones we will carry with us always
Nepal — Uniterra
A Uniterra Nepal Team Blog Post designed and curated by Samantha Joan
Our lives are timelines of powerful experiences that have captivated us. Each experience adds a new layer to our identity, and influences our perceptions of the past, and our decisions in the future. I like to think that with every new endeavor we are shown a glimpse of the way forward. Like a compass on road map with no certain destination, we are guided by brief moments of enlightenment and time-earned lessons. When we look back on the things that influenced our direction in life, the most common denominator is people. One person, in a brief encounter or a life-long relationship, can say or do something that will forever impact the way we see the world, and the way we navigate our lives forward. I am always on the lookout for what I can learn from others. So allow me to attest, when we open our eyes, ears and hearts to all people, the opportunities for growth are endless. This album is in honor of those who have forever impacted our identities. They shaped the power of our experiences in Nepal, and to them we are grateful.
“A simple hello could lead to a million things.” – or in the case of Tek and I, a million conversations.
I met Tek Simkhada waiting to board a small propeller plane back to Pokhara after 10 days of exploring Upper Mustang. He was in Nepal for his year long placement away from the Loughborough University in the UK. As we transitioned together from plane to microbus back to Kathmandu, our conversations drifted from the usual – what are you doing here – to interesting discussions on philosophy, poetry and, of course, Nepal.
“Trapped in a local bus going towards Pokhara, I initiated a conversation with an elder man with the initial B.B.S. After giving my brief introduction, he started talking about his family and village hardship. Before our stop he looked at me and said “Babu, remember the only thing that really matters is you, don’t forget that”. This elder man was my grandfather.
Coming back to Nepal after the earthquake I was placed in a country of beauty and unorganized chaos fuelled by frustration. The choice I made to come back to my own country was rational than emotional. From the opportunity and support of my university I had collected sums of money to help rebuild and re-ignite the smiles of the Nepali people, especially the youths. From my view and experience, everyone has a lesson and experience that can enrich your life, it can be lessons learnt from bad mistakes or a different perspective of an idea. In Nepal, your patience gets tested, if you persevere you will be rewarded with great life lesson.
The more I learn in Nepal through arrays of experience from different age group and different culture. It removes stereotypes and norms, this realization of self-discovery and euphoria is unmatchable. However, educated I become from the developed country, there is still so much to learn. Thinking back to my grandfather, I could try to understand what he said and meant.
I know what I know and I know it well to never forget,
until I realized I knew nothing, the day I came back home.”
Through our many conversations and seeing his work here, Tek has inspired me to remain optimistic, broaden my perspective and be confident to propose my own ideas on how best to use my knowledge to support the Nepalese. I sincerely thank him and with six more months to go, I am looking forward to make any small positive changes where I can. I encourage everyone to check out the following links to learn more about Tek and his work here in Nepal on Facebook or through his blog.
|On A Daily Basis
Shows me the strength of the Nepali spirit in the caring for family and community.
Opens my eyes to the majesty of scooter sing-alongs, my heart to the beauty in monsoon puddle dancing.
Shares the side streets of her history from the alleys of Thamel to the fields of Hetauda.
Impresses with her Himalayic intelligence and Bagmatic humor.
Reminds me of the diversity in culture and the uniformity of humanity.
The power of women to build community has never been more obvious to me then on my first day of work in Kathmandu.
I was early to the office, and everyone else was late. This is Nepal and I was learning to adapt. I had time to kill and there is no better ‘time pass’ than drinking chiyaa (milk tea) in a Nepali teashop. I was fortunate in finding the shop that would become my favorite morning destination. There I met the owner, the one-woman powerhouse I would only ever know as Didi (older sister). In full honesty, I was intimidated by Didi’s teashop at first. Inside and outside of her little shop, I could count ten men and three women. I saw a community of people sitting around, quietly reading the paper, sharing the latest news amongst friends, and of course drinking tea. On that morning and every morning after, there would be no clear path to Didi’s counter for she was at the center of it all. Feeling out of place, a visible stranger, I awkwardly fumbled my way through the crowd of people to ask Didi for a cup of chiyaa. Without even a second’s hesitation she commanded me to sit in front of her and without a word of English proceeded to ask me my life story and teach me what she could of Nepali. Words were not necessary, Didi’s laughter and smile told me all I needed to know. With her strong force of welcoming, I found an unlikely community in Nepal on that first day. To Didi and her band of regulars, I will be forever grateful. They helped me to understand first hand the beauty in routine conversations, the warmth in a stranger’s smile, and the power of a Nepali welcome. To the back street communities of Kathmandu and to Didi, thank you for sharing your time with an outsider.
She works at a non-profit organization that promotes and empowers inclusion for youth living with disabilities through volunteerism and service. She is a Nepali youth and has dreams for her country. Since my stay in Nepal, I have learned that we share many aspirations and similar life struggles together. Like her, I believe in the empowerment and inclusion of persons with disabilities. And like her, I have dreams for my country of birth; the Philippines. I’m inspired by her grit and strong personality to achieve.
I’m lucky to have met her because I found someone close to call family.
My list of memorable experiences in Nepal is quite extensive. I’ve done things and met people and seen places that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, all in the span of six short months. That being said, if I really had to choose one ring (ahem…experience) to rule them all, it would be the two weeks I spent on the Annapurna circuit. Now, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have enjoyed the circuit if I’d gone alone but what really made the trip for me was the people I travelled with. And when I say “made the trip”, I don’t just mean made it enjoyable, I mean actually physically made sure I got up and down a mountain range without dying.
There is one person in particular that I can credit with both keeping me going and keeping me laughing the whole way and it’s this guy.
This is Raby, casual comedian, motivational speaker, animal sound impersonator, and trekking guide extraordinaire. When I was at 5400 meters suffering from acute altitude sickness, desperately heaving lungfuls of air into my body and shivering from the shock of the ascent, Raby made me laugh. Raby made me smile. Raby made me remember to appreciate the moment. Raby showed me the value of goofiness. Raby taught me it’s worth expending the extra breath to tell a joke. Raby’s happiness is infectious and I’m incredibly glad to have caught the bug!
This young woman is a breath of fresh air