My intrigue with Nepal began in Summer 2014 when a few of my friends returned from the UW-Madison Nepal Field course and posted pictures of the most beautiful landscape and honest people to social media. Then and there I knew that I wanted to join the Nepal Field course of Summer 2015 so that I could experience this amazing country for myself. For months leading up to the trip, I read many books with a Nepal backdrop, I contacted every person I knew who has visited Nepal, and I told anyone who would listen about this amazing cultural adventure that I would soon embark on.
The morning of April 25th is one that changed the lives of so many people around the world. I woke up that morning to countless messages from concerned family and friends about the state that Nepal was in after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. In those first few moments it was hard to understand just how serious the situation was. I was in complete denial. The denial did not last long because it was impossible to escape this devastation with every news channel and radio station broadcasting the quickly increasing death toll. After much deliberation between my program leaders and the University, it was decided that the field course would be unsafe for us to attend. I was completely devastated. Selfishly, for how excited I had been about this plan for my summer, and much, much more importantly, for the families in Nepal who lost so much.
My love and passion for culture was the reason I fell in love with Nepal in the first place. With absolutely no other plan for my summer, I decided to book flights to countries with very distinct cultures because I wanted to be inspired by what I loved about Nepal. While travelling through Chefchaouen, Morocco, I was invited into a weaver’s shop called “La Maison des Nomades” for a glass of mint tea, which is a sign of hospitality in the Moroccan culture. The storeowner showed me the carpets that had been woven by the women of his village. He bought the carpets from these women in order to give them economic independence, and to contribute to their community. This experience reminded me a lot of the nonprofit organization that partnered with the Nepal Field course, Sarvodaya USA. In the meetings leading up to the Field course, my trip leader told the group about this organization that values self-reliance within communities and works to give the people of Nepal and Sri Lanka the means to use their personal strengths to better themselves and their communities. This connection to Nepal that I found on my last minute trip through Morocco inspired me to apply to be an intern for Sarvodaya USA.
After my seven weeks of cultural experiences, I returned to Madison to intern for Sarvodaya USA. This summer, I will be planning and putting on events to raise money for earthquake relief in Nepal. Additionally I will be writing blog posts to educate the public on various cultural practices in Nepal and Sri Lanka. I am also seeking out organizations that will partner with Sarvodaya USA to spread its message. In our global health classes here at UW-Madison, we have learned that it takes people acting locally, to accomplish our goals globally. Even though I could not be apart of a global mission this summer, I am determined to do all I can locally to help the people who will be able to use these resources globally. When the day comes that I can get to Nepal, I will have the capacity to appreciate it in ways that I couldn’t have otherwise.
Stay tuned to Sarvodaya’s Facebook page to learn more about what we are up to this summer. You can also subscribe to our email list here: http://www.sarvodayausa.org/connect.html to receive occasional emails that describe what we have been up to!