As contradictory as it may sound, I felt as though I knew what I was getting myself into coming to Nepal, yet had no idea what to expect. I was confident I had sufficiently prepared myself mentally and physically for my time here: to trek my way through the mountains, be living in relative isolation, and have limited access to resources. However, you never really know how prepared you are until you arrive. One thing I could not have predicted was how different each of the four teachers' experiences would be while in our villages. The four of us (Andrew, Zoe, Katie and myself) had met in Kathmandu, spent the week together for orientation then trekked together for four days to our villages. After a group hug in the garden of the Trekker's Inn Guesthouse in Ghandruk, we parted ways and settled into our villages. In Ghandruk, Katie has experienced an ever changing and revolving door of trekkers, guides, and porters every night and at times has even helped serve dal bhat. In Tolka, Andrew was welcomed like a brother by the staff at a lively guesthouse and but is further removed from the rest of us being on the other side of the valley. In Kliyu, Zoe has been adopted as "my daughter" to her host family at a quiet guesthouse, but has her fill of excitement during busy days at school. And here, in Kimche, my life is significantly different than all the rest, but in all the ways I could have hoped for.
Before coming to Nepal I had mentally prepared myself as best as possible for the journey I was about to embark on. From teaching for the first time, leaving for my first major international trip by myself, and living with a new family in a new and much different culture than what I had been accustomed to. To get the most out of my experience, and be able to provide the best learning opportunity for my students, I knew that flexibility would be an important trait to possess. Until arriving in Nepal, and more specifically my village of Ghandruk, I never knew just how important flexibility would be.
Some of the best experiences that I have had thus far have come as a result of going with the flow. I have been able to engage with the rich Gurung and Nepali culture that lives here in my village as well as form great bonds with my didi’s (big sisters) and dai’s (big brothers), fellow teachers, and community members. Whether it be blindly following my dai through the village at a moments notice when he says “kanchi, jam jam” which results in hand plowing the field and planting garlic with my didi’s all afternoon, or having to abandon lesson plans and resort to playing games outside because that is the only way the third graders will absorb any English that day. Didi will also frequently say “you, me, dance tonight” and an hour later we end up at a “culture program” (community dance night with Nepali music) a few houses away. Since Ghandruk is a bigger village, and my guest house accommodates many, I have try to help out my family when it gets busy. This means that I help serve dal bhat to 40 Nepali high school students who have come to visit Ghandruk on an overnight school excursion. And because the power frequently goes out here, sometimes we serve said dal bhat in the dark, via headlamps.