‘Becoming’ Nepali: stupas and studies


Ali Barritt, Cynic Correspondent

Over winter break I was one of 16 students travelling to Nepal that learned study abroad is not just a pursuit of education, it is a chance to become part of another culture.

The three-credit travel study course in the department of community development and applied economics was led by Prem Timsina, a Nepal native and CDAE lecturer.

Timsina deemed the trip a success, saying the students learned about Nepali culture through engaging with local students and teachers.

“They became half-Nepali,” Timsina said.

First-year Brigitte Barrett said the course let her apply skills she was learning in class to real life, and gave her a deeper look into NGO work.

As a group we explored the cities of Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur and Dhulikhel.

Destinations included Swayambhunath, also known as “Monkey Temple,” a historical stupa atop a hill of stairs inhabited by monkeys.

Stupas are hemispherical structures used by Buddhist monks or nuns as places of meditation and ritual practice, according to MerriamWebster.

In addition to sight-seeing, five days of the program were reserved for visiting schools.

Our group met students, sat in on classes and had the opportunity to teach about life in the United States.

First-year Emma Bruseo said she gained a new perspective on developing countries, but cherished visiting the local schools the most.

“I was truly amazed by the kids and the way they connected with one another and us in such a short time,” she said.

We also participated in a Red Cross Disaster Assessment training session and got to ask Dhulikhel’s mayor questions about city government.

First-year Marya Smith said the experience validated her goal to work internationally with a nonprofit.

Our travels involved nearly a month of close observation of the our new surroundings, as well as participation in and exploration of cultural practices.

Senior Bela Bogdanovic said that the trip made her assess her “long-term goals” as a regional and global studies and Chinese double major.

According to Timsina, the travel study will run again during the next winter session.

The trip “was not only an incredible educational experience, but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Posada said. “I feel very lucky to have shared it with such an amazing group of people.”