Thursday, January 17, 2013

Back on US soil!

After going down onto the Tarmac to identify our baggage, and five security checks in Mumbai we boarded our plane to the USA! Eighteen hours later we are final seated at our gate awaiting our final flight to Syracuse. We are all looking forward to seeing our families and enjoying a hot shower, but it will be bitter sweet to go our separate ways. We have grown close as a team and we will always be TNT ( Team Nepal Thirteen)! One last time, here we go saints!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We made it to Mumbai:)

Hello from the Mumbai airport. After conducting our final interviews yesterday we finished up shopping and explored the city one last time before dinner. We enjoyed a long meal at a Nepalese restaurant and played games to reminisce over the amazing experience we had while researching in Nepal.

This morning we enjoyed croissants on the rooftop with Animesh '08 Alanna '08 and Brijlal '10 before saying our final good byes. Brijlal and Alanna gave us traditional farewell marigold necklaces and Tibetan silk scarves for good luck.

On our 3 hour flight to Mumbai we were surrounded by Nepali men traveling mostly to Saudi Arabia to work and remit back home to their families. Chris and Lizzie were able to have conversations with the men sitting next to them on their future work plans. This final experience confirmed our findings about remittances in Nepal.

We have a five hour layover here in Mumbai and then we will make the 16 hour flight to Newark.

The past few weeks have been truly amazing and we are all excited to share what we have learned when we return to the United States. We would like to send a special thanks to Brijlal, Allana, and Animesh for being our tour guides and making this trip a success!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Animals on our journey

Here are some photos of the numerous animals we have seen around Nepal. We will add more as we upload more photos.

Pictures from Pokhara

Here are some photos of the lake, the view of the Himalayas from our flight, interviews and a sign with numerous methods of remitting. Also, you can see how we kept warm.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Update on the past few days

Today is our last full day in Kathmandu! The city is up and roaring and we are ready to take on the day thanks to our coffee at the Himalayan Java House. We are waiting to hear back from Brijlal about our final two interviews today with people from Social Science BAHA and a Fulbright scholar.

Sitting around the coffee table we have been reflecting on the past few days. After an early sunrise hike up the Sarangkot mountain we said our goodbyes to Charlotte. We spent the last day in Pokhara interviewing hotel workers and taking in the beautiful scenery. One of the interviewees told us he was sending his daughter to a private boarding school at the age of five in hopes that she would "pick up English" leading to more opportunities in her future. We also learned about internal migration and how all three interviewees physically carried their money back to their villages ;in other words they did not use banks.

We also saw the impact of Middle East remittances on the building of homes and businesses in Pokhara. We have learned about migration to Qutar in particular as there are roughly 400,000 Nepali men working in that country.

The next morning we loaded up and flew to Kathmandu, go Buddha air! We circled Kathmandu for 20 minutes and had an amazing view of the Himalayan Mountains. Once in Kathmandu we journeyed up the mountains to our retreat at the Nagarkot Farmhouse where we reflected on the past 2 weeks while overlooking the Himalayas and prayer flags. Nagarkot was the perfect place to re-group, type up our notes, and use our new knowledge to plan for our futures.

Yesterday morning Cynthia, Chris, and Lizzie woke up and trekked 18KM down the mountain back to Boudhanath,Kathmandu. The scenery of subsistent farming and irrigation was breathtaking making the journey well worth it. We passed through many small villages and were greeted by many residents with "namaste" giggles and waving. We also came into contact with various goats, chicks, chickens, buffalo, stray dogs, ducks, cats, sheep, cattle, and a monkey vs. dog disagreement.. The monkey got away.

While walking we met a grade 11 student who was walking to his private school in Kathmandu. He moved to the city from a small village where his parents work a small shop. While he was young his father migrated back and forth from the village to the city to save for his education. He now lives in a hostile and his education and living fees are sponsored by Koreans. He has applied to go to Australia for grade 12 and is hoping to receive a scholarship. It was great to hear from a recipient of remittances and we wish him good luck for a bright future.

We arrived in Kathmandu early in the afternoon and enjoyed a rooftop interview with a Nepali journalist at our home-base the Sacred Valley Inn. During this interview we learned about Nepali's in Qatar and the dreadful working and living conditions they endure. It really makes you realize how bad their options in Nepal are.

We then checked out the local Nepali mall, and had a food court dinner of Momos, sushi, and sesame chicken. After our meal we went to see the only English movie playing at the cinema "Gangster Squad". Popcorn was only 20 cents a bag, and we had assigned seats. The censorship of the movie was quite amusing, swearing and sexual scenes were blocked out and every time there was a cigarette or smoke in the film a caption appeared warning us that smoking is injurious to health and can cause cancer. There was a brief intermission for more momos and popcorn. During this time we realized there were mice scurrying around our feet, and they seemed to really enjoy our popcorn. After the intermission we had about 10 minutes of play time before we had to take another break so the movie could buffer for a half hour. What an experience!

Today will definitely be bittersweet, but we are looking forward to enjoying our last day together in Kathmandu.

Pictures will be posted shortly!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Back in Kathmandu

Seems like a whirlwind trip around Nepal. Brigunj to Nichuta, Chitwan and the Jungle, the magnificent views in Pokhara, a relaxing two days in Nargokot and now back in Kathmandu.

At every stop we have met people who have or plan to migrate for a job. It seems the Middle East is the most common destination. Most have a goal, earn enough to payoff loans, buy land and build a house, start a business or invest in their children's education -- to make a better life for their families.

While Kathmandu seemed to overwhelm my senses on December 30, my return today feels very different. The noise and bustle are almost comforting today. Each time I have travelled to the edge of the city I am taken by the amount of construction. The city is growing but doing so too quickly. The infrastructure needs to catch up.

And if anyone sees my son Cade, be sure to tell him happy birthday. From Nepal I wish him the very best birthday.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Charlotte's last post

Hello all,

I am sad to say that I have left the SLU team Nepal 2013 and am on my way to Chiang Mai, Thailand where I will be spending the spring semester. I will be attending Payap University and I am looking forward to arriving late tonight to move in and meet my Thai roommate! My time in Nepal was absolutely amazing. As a member of the SLU organization Literacy For Nepal it was especially remarkable to be able to meet the children we are providing scholarships for as well as visit the library that Literacy For Nepal constructed in the past. There is no way to describe the trip in a few sentences. We saw so many different people and places and I learned so much about the Nepali culture and economy. Each day was a new adventure. My outlook on Nepal has been completely altered after the trip. Their lifestyle is so different from the western world and it was an extremely valuable experience to be exposed to everything we had the opportunity to see. While we got to explore a few different parts of Nepal, I hope to return there sometime soon for another adventure. I wish the rest of team Nepal 2013 all the best in the remainder of their journey and look forward to getting together and attempting to recreate some Nepali meals on campus in the fall.

-Charlotte Caldwell '15

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pokhara, we have arrived!

Hello from the Sacred Valley Inn in Pokhara. After some morning shopping in Chitwan we loaded up the van and made the 5 hour drive to Pokhara. We drove along the beautiful Marshyangdi River and through the hills. We are all settled into our hotel which has a beautiful view of the hills, and are getting ready for our last night together before Charlotte leaves for Thailand tomorrow. Tomorrow we will be going on a morning hike to see the sun rise over the hills, visiting the World Peace Pagoda, and mountain biking.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Chitwan in the morning

Here are some photos from my morning run in town. It was very peaceful watching everyone getting ready for the day.

Elephant ride in Chitwan

We just got back from an elephant ride through the Chitwan National Park. We saw a rhino who was wounded in a recent fight, several deer, and some cool birds (egrets, grey heron, eagle). We then enjoyed Nepali tea while watching some elephants bathe. We were also able to interview the mahaut -- the elephant driver -- and learned his son is in Malaysia working and remits to his wife here in Chitwan.

In the village

We spent the sixth and seventh in Nichuta, a rural village that is the home of Brijlal Chaudhari '08. Our time in the village of Nichuta was an amazing experience that seems impossible to describe. It was very different from all my expectations. Houses in Nichuta are made of clay and cow dung with straw roofs. The house we stayed in was one of the nicest homes in the village. His home was built with cement had electricity and plumbing. Brijlal's family was so welcoming to us even though they weren't able to communicate with us since most of them didn't speak English. We were fed big and delicious meals of dhal baht with vegetables grown nearby and carp caught in a neighborhood pond. We had chai tea at the local tea shop. When we walked around exploring the village we attracted a large group of village children who loved to smile at us and give us high fives. We got to visit a public school in the village where the Literacy for Nepal organization built a library that is stocked with over a thousand books. The students at the school were also welcoming and were eager to show us around their school and everyone was able to teach a lesson in two classrooms. The students had amazing enthusiasm to learn and were so happy to be showing off their English to Americans. We spent nights after dinner talking around a campfire and one night as the boys cooked the women got henna done with Brijlal's sister in law and many of her female friends. It has been so incredible to be in Nichuta and immerse ourselves in a different part of Nepali culture that we haven't experienced so far.