Leave for Change Blogs
Many Leave for Change participants blog - often before, during, and after their volunteer assignment - capturing the diversity and richness of their volunteer experience, their reactions to being in a new country, how they navigate and negotiate their mandates, and the impact the whole experience has on them personally and professionally.
You can search blogs by person, country, or year. Enjoy!
Most stores closed. Very few vehicles on streets.
Our office is open. Kate and I are safe.
During the scheduled bandh on June 9th (two days before our departure), the office will remain open and we are expected to report to work (steps away). However, during a bandh in Nepal, no motorbikes, public or private vehicles use is encouraged. All Canadian, CECI and Australian are asked to avoid any area where demonstration, protest programmes and public gathering are taking place. Unless it is called off, we will experience what it means to be in Nepal during a bandh.
During our well-deserved break in Pokhara, Kate and I had a chance to reflect and share our overall experience in Kathmandu.
http://our-nepal-love.tumblr.com/ Images to follow.
Despite limitations and/or challenges, we both worked very hard (usually working after hours) towards achieving our mandates. We have lots to get done before Friday.
*This is a joint blog post by Veronica Ward and Kate Jenkins
Our experience over the past two weeks in Kathmandu has been quite the adventure. After three earthquakes, two demonstrations and other day-to-day challenges, we decided to explore Nepal’s second-largest city, Pokhara (highly recommended).
Our taxi arrived on Saturday at 7 a.m. at CECI House for a domestic flight to the picturesque lakeside city, only to find out that Pokhara’s airport was closed and our flight was delayed. It was only after takeoff that we were told that Nepal’s vice-president was on board with us. This explained the delay.
When we arrived, we travelled to our hotel, wandered around the main street, enjoyed a delicious lunch and walked down to Phewa Lake. In the evening, we stumbled upon a quaint lakeside restaurant where we enjoyed a lively cultural performance while enjoying our dinner.
On Sunday, our taxi arrived at 4:20 a.m. to take us to Sarangkot, which is a hill that offers one of the best views of the Annapurna Himalayan mountain peaks, especially at sunrise and sunset. Although it was a bit overcast, we were still able to get some beautiful photos of Pokhara.
Sadly, my (Kate) plan to take an ultralight flight around the Himalayas was foiled by rain, but we enjoyed a beautiful flight back to Kathmandu that offered a nice view of the mountain peaks.
While this was a well-deserved break, we’re both well aware of the amount of work ahead of us this week as we wrap up our time in Nepal before coming home. Check out photos of Pokhara on Our Nepal Love (Veronica) and Kate-in-Kathmandu.
My intention to write more blog posts this week failed, so here’s a quick summary of week two. It was extremely busy, but good busy. I’m very lucky to be working with such a great organization and counterpart – Bimal. He’s very knowledgeable in communications and a great person to be collaborating with throughout my mandate.
This week’s highlights include:
Visiting HICAST’s campus in Kalanki: Kalanki is one of the busiest areas in Kathmandu because it’s an exit and entry point from/to Kathmandu valley. While there, Bimal and I administered a student survey and took some photos for the brochure I’m developing on the college. The students are very enthusiastic and it was a wonderful experience to spend a morning there.
Welcome lunch: Today (Friday) I was surprised with a welcome lunch at HICAST’s administrative office. It was the best food I’ve had in Nepal so far. We dined on chicken curry, rice (I love rice!), organic veggies and fried potatoes. Needless to say, I had soup for dinner.
Visiting HICAST’s experimental farm: I’ve never felt more at home in Kathmandu than I did visiting the experimental farm on Friday. I got to see some goats and chicks. They were all incredibly adorable. I even got to hold a kid (aka baby goat) and it was so cuddly. I think I have closer to 30 goat photos from today. I’ve included one (left) of me holding the goat alongside some of my HICAST colleagues, including chairperson Binayak P Rajbhandari.
Another earthquake: This was also a surprise, mainly because I slept through it. My colleagues asked if I felt the earthquake and I was completely stunned to hear that one had occurred. Maybe it’s a sign I’ve adjusted to life in Nepal.
I heard before leaving for Nepal that the people here are incredible generous, and I couldn’t agree more. Next Saturday will be bittersweet.
Remember to check out my Tumblr for more photos and updates on my time in Nepal.
June 3, 2016. An aftershock was recorded of local magnitude 4.4 and the epicenter of the tremor was Sindupalchowk District at 05:10 hrs this morning. And I was awake!
Beautiful day. Skies are clear. Sun is brilliant. Music soothes my soul. I am not alone on this journey.
Meetings scheduled this morning as we move the research process forward. CECI Canada office confirmed "Great work so far! You are on the right track." Looking forward to a successful day.
May 28. 3:24 p.m. Earth in Nepal registered at 4.6 Richter Scale, stronger than Monday's 4.2! My bed danced! All is well!
I’ve been meaning to write a new blog post all week, but the days got away from me. I arrived safely in Kathmandu last Sunday evening and have spent the past week adjusting to a new time zone, food and culture. The time zone part of it has been the most challenging for me. I’ve been here almost a week and I still can’t seem to get my clock right. Knowing myself, I will probably adjust right before we’re scheduled to head back to Canada. Anyone else taken this long to beat jet lag?
The past week has been filled with great moments, including meeting my partner organization (HICAST), exploring Kathmandu and getting to know some new friends. This week I had the chance to attend HICAST’s 15th anniversary and they invited me to attend a cultural program where their students performed traditional dances. I started working with HICAST a bit late because of a planned protest on Thursday, but my first day with them on Friday was productive and I learned more about what they need me to do while I’m here. I don’t think I’ll have a dull moment until I head to the airport in two weeks.
Today, Veronica and I went on a great city tour of Kathmandu and saw some temples and markets. Kathmandu feels like such a maze to me and the traffic is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Tonight we took a tuk tuk to Thamel – KTM’s tourist district – to have pizza. Don’t get me wrong, the food here is great, I just needed something familiar for one meal. I am proud that we were able to navigate our way through KTM, and although we missed our original tuk tuk stop, we found our restaurant and spent some time wandering through Thamel afterwards. Now that I've had this experience I feel much more comfortable travelling through some parts of the city using transit.
I hope this provides a good update for anyone reading this and that it makes up for the week of silence. Remember to check out my Tumblr for more photos and updates.
Before I sign off, here’s some more info on the photos I’ve included above.
Left: A view of some of the striking temples in Lalitpur. The photo really doesn’t capture the fine details of these impressive structures.
Centre: HICAST students celebrating their heritage at the college’s 15th anniversary. Sorry the photo is blurry.
Right: UNESCO World Heritage Site Boudhanath Stupa. It is currently under construction to repair damage from the earthquakes last year. It's very impressive to see in real life.
In about two hours from now, Red Car will be picking me up to take me and Veronica to the airport. It’s difficult to describe how I feel right now. Part of me is scared and apprehensive, but I’m also excited to get to Kathmandu and start my mandate. I’m not going to lie - I really wish Scotty from Star Trek could just use his transporter to get me there. It’s a long journey to the other side of the world.
My Driver Dung
Dung's family. Niece, sister, niece, and son.
Bridge leading across the river adjacent his home.
My driver insisted that I visit his stomping grounds and therefore took me out to his childhood village.
Enjoying a little dinner with my Driver Dung and long term volunteer John.
I was asked to participate in a two hour English class Workshop with the English Teachers.
After a solid day of presentations with the group from the Hotel and Tourism Management and the Leadership group in the afternoon, I played some volleyball with staff members and then headed off for a great dinner with the teachers and Dean from the Hotel and Tourism Management. I later enjoyed a little karaoke with some staff and friends. Saturday brought a relaxing day and a great dinner and motor bike ride along the beach before enjoying some frozen yogurt. A well deserved sleep started off my Sunday. Did some work and tried to work out this blog system on my phone. Had a little swim and caught up on some emails. Will be having dinner with my driver and his family this evening as this is the only available night before I leave this Friday. Know for inserting photos.
New syllabus workshop on safety and security at hotels and resorts for hotel and tourism delivered to all the teachers today. New ideas and exercises to also be implemented for students in th classroom. Well received and engaging. Will post interaction video o photos later today.
Yet another great day with the students at College. Last night, they invited m to their ESL opening ceremony where there was some singing, dancing, English speaking, and a entire fun evening. These two students dance a beautiful to a beautiful song and made it th highlight of the evening. Before leaving, I also took part in son singing in thanks to my welcome. Also today, I received a beautiful t-shirt from a class for helping them learn some extra English. My t-shirt had a class photo of the entire class on its front. What a memorable gift. Thanks to everyone. I will wear it at he next class and will post it.