Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mango mango mango

I love MANGOS! I've been eating so many fresh, juicy mangos... I don't know what to do once I'm home. I need my daily dose of mango.

I have certainly neglected my blog for the past couple of weeks, and am now on my last week in Nepal. So here's what has been going on since my last post...

Loo's farewell party... tribal dancing

Loo left to go back to Australia :( We had a farewell party with good food, music and Nepali style dancing. I hope to visit her in Australia, and for her to come to the US as well... someday! Since she left though, I've been quite busy with Reliance Boarding School. I taught grades 3-10, then lastly 1st and 2nd. I had most fun with 1st and 2nd. I made a poster with the words "Our Earth" for 1st, then "Our World" and "Our Planet" for the 2 sections of 2nd, and had them put hand prints all over the page. To make it more interesting for Grade 2, I had them also draw over top or next to their handprint. I went over phrases like, "Lend a helping hand" and "Every hand can make a difference" to relate it to working together to help the environment.

Then after teaching all grades, we had the Environmental Art Show, hanging up all posters on clotheslines outside. The children were called by grade to look at everyone's work, and I presented each with a Certificate of Achievement for participating. Some of the kids had huge smiles when getting their certificate, making my time worth it! Also, during one lesson, a student came up and thanked me for coming and working on art with them.

Art Show! Handing out certificates.

Besides Reliance, I have been watching the World Cup, continuing with diction lessons (mainly public speaking), doing some artwork, and getting to know more of the culture. Two of the boys I'm teaching took part in the Hindu Holy Thread ceremony. Every Hindu boy of a certain caste takes part in the ceremony, which prepares them for manhood. Once completing, they are able to marry and perform in other Hindu ceremonies. Firstly the boys shave their heads (except for a small tuft on the top), then follows Hindu readings, offerings, chanting, then gifts for the boys. The ceremony took place from 7am-12pm... but was an interesting part of the culture to see.

Holy Thread ceremony

I was also invited to see a Hindu wedding ceremony by Dinesh. This consisted of dancing, music, food, putting on tika, washing of feet and me being put on the wedding video! What a great experience!

Bride and Groom

I have been spoiled here... tea made for me every morning, lots of mango eating, meals prepared, dishes washed, my own room and such amazing people to live with! I certainly hope to make it back again soon. But, here I come America!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Last weekend we had guests over for dinner. Dinesh's cousin and his girlfriend, and a Swiss couple that just adopted a child from Nepal. We all sat down and ate our rice with silverware. It was so strange using forks and spoons again! Haha, who knew I'd get so used to eating with my hands!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sights of Kathmandu

Saturday (5/29) was a crazy day. Friday night I got online and found out that one of my friends was in Kathmandu! She had been traveling around India and Nepal and happened to be in Kathmandu when I got a hold of her. She rented a taxi for Saturday and invited me and Loo to join! We visited places surrounding the Kathmandu valley: Kirtipur, Chobar and Pharping (no pharping at the dinner table please!). Kirtipur was an ancient town, supposedly what Kathmandu looked like at one point. There were few cars and seemed that we were the only tourists that day. We found a great rooftop cafe looking out over the city, then headed for more sights in Chobar. The places I visited were lovely and refreshing, both with the air and lack of traffic, but I can imagine the beauty it once contained before all the buildings, pollution and rubbish. There needs to be a change here, with educating more people about the environment and putting that knowledge into effect. The teenagers I'm working with now have that ability, because they are educated. I know if they put the effort in, the can make a difference in many ways.

-Me and Anne in Chobar
Later, we went out for Anne's last night in Kathmandu. We met new people and shared stories. Some of the new people we met were a group of American volunteers who were building a school in Nepal. At that point they had finished the groundwork. I would have loved to help if the site wasn't 10 hours from Kathmandu!

Monday, two of the volunteers, Loo and I went to the ancient city, Bhaktapur. I had been there on my first trip, but didn't mind going again to see all the shrines and temples. I thought I had seen the majority of the town, but realized how huge the city actually was. Similar to Kathmandu, except less crowded and more beauty. The best part was seeing pottery being made and glazed... my specialty! One person made the pottery, another shaved off the excess clay after he was finished, the pots were laid out to dry in the sun, then a third glazed the pots. It was worth going back again!

-Me and Loo in Bhaktapur
It has been great meeting fellow travelers and learning about their experiences. You meet so many interesting people while traveling.
The past couple of weeks I've been working with the teens on their diction, public speaking, typing and having group discussions. They are improving and seeming to become more confident in their speech! Tonight they will do a speech on a country they'd like to visit, saying why they want to visit and some facts about the country. The countries they chose were Australia, USA, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Swaziland and others. Besides this, I had an art lesson with Sungava, an organization with mentally challenged women in Kathmandu. It was pretty difficult to communicate, as I don't speak Nepalese, but my friend, Noora, helped to translate and get the girls involved. Also, I'm planning to have an art show with the students from Reliance boarding school. So far, I've met with the 3rd graders... I had them draw pictures of their environment and most drew depictions of nature, but there were also some who drew computers, airplanes and super heroes! Haha, so we'll see how it goes!

I also did some swimming lessons!

-Little Dikshant
Hope everyone is enjoying the start of summer! Enjoy bbq's, the beach, and fresh fruits & veggies for me!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nepali nomads

Last Friday, Loo and I decided to make a gigantic spaghetti dinner for everyone. We added onions, mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, basil and other seasonings to the sauce and made loads of pasta. Delicious. The kids said they liked it but all ended up adding curry to their sauce! Haha. We decided to cook dinner for them every Friday.

Since being here I have worked with the kids on correcting grammar and spelling in letters they wrote to their sponsors. I typed up a list of punctuation and grammar rules, as well as helping them with certain sounds in English they have trouble making. Last night we had a discussion on the environment. Loo and I started off the discussion asking the kids how they felt about their home in Kathmandu, health issues related to pollution and garbage. They all participated and knew that things needed to be changed. We worked on how they can take small steps to make a difference.
Saturday I was happily surprised when Dinesh (the house dad) and his wife, Hira, asked Loo and I if we wanted to see a guru. We took a scooter ride to an ashram right outside Kathmandu. The ashram was beautiful and well-maintained. We walked through a garden, or "small forest," as Dinesh's son had called it, and up to a room where the guru was sitting. Swami had a long, fluffy white beard, gray dreads and was shirtless, wearing bright orange pants... wish I had snapped a picture of him! He spoke English well and talked a lot about the development of your inner self. Many times we are told to look out to help others, but most important is first developing your self, then the rest will follow. Swami was also an artist and violinist, both skills he performed beautifully.

Sunday was Founder's Day at Reliance Boarding School. It was great seeing the kids again and watching them perform on stage, either singing or dancing. Each grade performed separately. Two of the children came and sat on my lap, remembering me from my trip here in April. It was funny sitting there, being the only two white girls, and having a few of the kids take pictures of us. Not with us, but while they thought we weren't looking. Afterwards, Loo and I went out for nachos! Wow, was I missing my cheese!

During the day the kids leave for their bridge courses and I'd like to find more opportunities to occupy my time. So Monday I was taken to Sungava, an NGO for women that are mentally handicapped. I'd like to do a couple art lessons with them, but realize it can be a huge challenge, as the girls do not speak any English. Also, I may do some art lessons with the kids at Reliance. After Sungava, I went to the orphanage that the children in Reliance were sponsored from. The building was once a palace. However, it was very difficult to walk through, seeing so many children orphaned. The first two rooms I visited were nurseries. Yet, those coming from the orphanage to Reliance have such incredible spirits. I am very happy to be spending time with them.

Yesterday was a public holiday, Buddha's birthday! Loo, Craig and I celebrated by getting drinks and food and the Funky Buddha. It was a great way to enjoy Buddha's b-day, all the while forming myself a nice little Buddha belly.

Friday, May 21, 2010


After many hours of transit purgatory, I made it to Kathmandu! It is so strange and great being here. My last trip here in April gave me a good idea what to expect coming back again. The strikes are over, which as I got here found out it was more like a block party. Music, people in the streets, gettin' jiggy wit it. However, this time I will be working with the high school levels kids teaching diction. Hopefully even just spending time with me will improve their diction.
-My home in Kathmandu
There are 3 girls and 4 boys I am teaching in this beautiful home; Nari, Laxmi, Manmaya, Khil, Bhim, Rupesh and Dinesh. There is also a girl from Swaziland, Africa staying in the house. Louise is a med student and after doing an internship in Turkey, is now doing an internship in a hospital in Kathmandu. Growing up in Swaziland she has had quite an adventurous life. The kids call her kanchan, "clean heart," and me, muskan di- "big sister who always smiles."
Lou met a medical volunteer our age, Craig, working at the same hospital. He is also here for a few weeks and is traveling with his sister. Both Lou and Craig are so passionate about medicine and working with third world patients. Very courageous people. Yesterday Craig pointed out a bus that had been burnt down. The driver had accidentally hit and killed a child and therefore the bus was considered to have bad kharma. I'm in a completely different world here in Kathmandu.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Hello all!
I am in an internet cafe and currently have 11 minutes and 30 seconds to write this! 23 seconds... you get the point. So after Halloween, Chris, Yoana and I took a train to Florence where we also met up with Chris's cousin. It was a bit rainy but we got a few walking tours around the city, went to the Academia (where the statue of David is located) and went to the top of a hill by a castle which overlooked the city. We spend two days there and the came to Roma! So far I have been in Rome for five days. I visited th Colosseum, Arch of Constantie, Palantine Hill, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Statue of Romulus and Remus, Trajans markets, Piazza Navona, the Vatican and various studios and galleries with my friend Amber (who is studying in Rome). Wow, I've been busy. It has been great so far, but am definitely missing home! Tomorrow I'm planning on visiting Naples for the day, then hopefully within the next couple of days getting a train to Provence to visit my friend Mandy. Mandy and I were roommates first semester of college. I have seen so many monuments, landscapes and buildings and hopefully will get to experience a bit of relaxation in Provence, having already been there two summers ago. I can't wait! I will try and fill all of you in more about my trip to Florence and Rome later.. but for now, I have to go! Hope you are doing well and miss you all so much!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hanging with the locals

Trieste was a nice little town on the coast where we mainly walked around the streets and sat for some gelato (I have had so much gelato!). The next day, Tuesday 10-27, Peter drove us to Venice to pick up Chris's girlfriend, Yoana, from the airport. Yoana is from Bulgaria and I'm glad that she has been traveling with us, it's been great! After picking her up we headed to Padova, "The city of the saints," where Peter's friends live. Padova of course had beautiful streets and architecture. We walked around, saw their City Hall and the different city squares. You could definitely tell this was a college town... in one of the main squares, recent graduates were celebrating with friends. In the northeast of Italy, friends of the graduate plan the party, where they dress up the graduate and take them into the square. Also, they write about the life of the graduate on a huge poster, which they need to recite in the square. It was hilarious walking through the town and seeing numerous people dressed up, walking with their entourage. Later that night we visited Prato Della Valle, the largest square in Europe. In the square were statues of various Philosophers, fountains and lots of open space.

We spent the night in Padova, then took the train to Venice the next morning. Venezia was beautiful, made up of canals, homes, shops and boats. Yoana had a list of things to see, which included San Marco Square, the Basilica of San Marco, prisoners bridge, and different churches. The Basilica of San Marco was incredible. All the ceiling was gold mosaic and even the floor had different mosaic-like patterns. We hung out in the square, found our way around the narrow streets and did a bit of shopping. We even got to take a gondola ride! ... even if it was 50 cents for 30 seconds across the canal. After an eventful day of trying to get in as much Venezia as possible, we took a ferry ride back to the train station and headed back to Padova.

Peter had to get home for a couple days, so his friends generously offered up their home to us. After Venice, we went to a city square where all the college students (hundreds) just hang out at night. We met tons of people and had a great time.

The next day we had planned to visit Austria, however, since Peter was at home we decided to visit Verona. Verona is known for being the setting of the play, Romeo and Juliet (well, the setting in the movie). Needless to say, we visited the houses of Romeo and Juliet. Verona was a lot easier to get around in than Venice, especially since we had a map. We also saw a Roman amphitheater, palazzo's, the Castle of S. Pietro, the Church of S. Anastasia and a Roman theater. We hurried a bit through Verona since we got there at 3:30 pm, but relaxed and took it all in once we got to the top of a hill overlooking the city.

After visiting Verona, and not having plans for the next day, we decided to visit our wonderful Venezia again. This time we took our time wandering the streets and ended up again in San Marco Square. We went through the Basilica again then hung with pigeons. We had some crackers in our hands and let the pigeons sit on us and eat the crumbs. And in that square, pigeons are very well-fed. Took some good pictures!

We have been so lucky with our experiences, both touristy and non-touristy. We have hung with the locals, having a better idea what life is like in Italy (northeastern). So far we have learned a few words in Italian and gotten many kisses on the cheeks. Tomorrow we head to Florence for two days, then to Rome. Chris's cousin is currently in Florence and she is showing us around the city. Also in Rome, my friend Amber is studying, and we will meet up with her
too! This has been perfect timing to visit Europe, having some of our friends to visit.

Today is Halloween! Although, Europeans don't really celebrate Halloween like we do in the states. Sad to miss it! However, I will be dressed as a vagabond.