Mark Ludwick's Peace Corps Nepal Home Page

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By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, July 01, 2001 - 7:02 pm: Edit Post

Mark Ludwick's Peace Corps Nepal Home Page

Mark Ludwick's Peace Corps Nepal Home Page

Mark Ludwick's Peace Corps Nepal Home Page

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Hello, and welcome to my Peace Corps Home Page. To the left is a picture of my family and me. I am the one on the far left. In the middle are my parents, Ralph and Ann. On the right is my brother Kurt. Kurt designed and maintained the web page for me while I was away, scanning photos and typing in my letters from Nepal.

To the right is a picture of me riding on top of a bus after I'd been in Nepal for a year or so.
Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Last update: February 13, 2001 by: Mark Ludwick

Saturday, June 26, 9:15 PM EDT
(Sunday, June 27, 7:00 AM Nepal Time)

Mark called from a hotel in Dahran where he and the other PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers) have been staying. He described Dahran as an affluent city with many restaurants and cheap prices (which are haggled over, quite unlike American restaurants). He had a nice dinner for $1.50.

Dahran is in southeast Nepal, in the Terai (tropical region), where it's very hot and wet -- "as bad as Florida ever was." (Mark spent one year living in St. Petersburg, FL when he worked for Andersen Consulting.)

Later on the day Mark called (June 27), he and two other PCVs were to go into the village of Shanti Nagar, where they would meet their Host Families. They will live with their Host Families throughout the upcoming three months of training. On Thursdays and Fridays during the training period, the PCVs will return to Dahran.

It took 15 days for our first letter to reach him. When asked what we could send, he said he could use anything that is waterproof or water tight; his papers are soaked.

July 2, 1999 (Email)

I'm in Dharan, which has shops which consist of a desk with a computer. They charge 20 rupees to write and send one e-mail (about 20 cents). I also wrote an air-mail letter which should arrive in a couple weeks. On Sunday, all of the volunteers moved into villages scattered around Dharan.

I moved to Shantinagar. This is a very rural village consisting of rice farmers, animal raisers, and families of men who are off in the Indian army sending money home. My family is in the Brahman caste but they are very poor. On the other hand, they have a servant. I can't figure it out.

The family spends the entire day doing chores around the house. The men feed the animals and the women concentrate on cleaning the house and preparing food. I'm not allowed to enter the kitchen. At meals, we eat rice with lentil 'soup' and a handful of vegetables (usually potato and spinach). The amount of food is incredible. After the women have served us and made sure we were finished, they sit on the floor and eat their meal. Needless to say, there are no napkins, utensils, etc. We only use our right hands to eat - for obvious reasons. (It's not hard to remember not to use your left hand to eat). The servant eats and sleeps on the back porch when he's not plowing the fields. Showers consist of a bucket of water drawn from the pump and dumped over my head. It's hard to lather up and rinse off using one bucket, but I'm getting better at it. There are 9 people in the family, 5 sons and 2 daughters. They've all had a little schooling, but not much. I think the family is housing me because the allowance they get for me is a lot (for them). I also think they want me to marry their daughter.

None of the people in my village (me, Geoff, and Sommer) can go anywhere without being swarmed by children and people who think they know how to say anything in English. Everybody is incredibly curious and kind. We can walk in and out of anybody's home in the village at whim - and everyone does the same at my house -- even more so now that there is a curiosity to see.

4 other volunteers are in Tarahara, which is a more urban area 10 minutes away. We walk there or vice versa every day. Those 4 enjoy coming to Shantinagar because of all the interaction with the children. There are about 12 houses in Shantinagar.

I finally got sick last night along with about 4 other volunteers. I have bacterial dysentery and a cold. The nurse gave me medication this morning and I already feel much better. The language is coming slowly but everyone is still pretty confident. I was excited to come to Dharan yesterday - everyone got to tell stories about their respective villages and we got to eat some different food (not rice and lentils). I just ate an ice cream sandwich!.

I hope this letter is legible. I'm writing as much as I can in the 15 minutes I'm supposed to use. Tonight, most of the volunteers are staying in Dharan to celebrate the 4th. So many of us are a little sick that it probably wont be much of a party.

I'll probably call again when I come in to Dharan again next Thursday.

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July 16, 1999

Note: This is the first handwritten communication we received from Mark since he left for Nepal. The aerogramme was not dated, but the first sentence implies that it was written on or around June 30. We received the aerogramme on July 16.

I moved in with my host family three days ago. Now I am really in Nepal. The townspeople and my family are so overtly curious and intrusive that I haven't had any privacy. The culture here does not frown upon anyone wandering into anyone else's house at any time, let alone into the white person's room in their own house! Communication is still very difficult. I've learned the Sanskrit alphabet, so I can sound out most words -- but I don't know enough vocabulary to converse -- not to mention that people here talk all the time -- loud and fast. People are infinitely interested and helpful, but it's hard for me to understand anything they say.

My village mates are Geoff Schroeck and Sommer White from Florida and Missouri -- both my age. Like most of the other people in the group, we don't know each other too intimately, but we have bonded through the immediacy and intensity of our shared experiences.

My house has electricity most of the time, but without appliances it doesn't really make much difference. I would trade the lightbulb in my room for a working fan in an instant. We wake up around 5:00 when the roosters start to crow and the other animals start making noise. The family goes into their usual routine of cleaning, feeding the animals, plowing the fields, boiling the tea, etc, etc, etc. in the same order and with the exact timing as every other day. I fill a bucket with water from the pump and try to get clean in the "shower" -- which is a concrete room about the exact shape and size as an outhouse. I won't get into the whole charpi (pit latrine) situation. Suffice it to say I'm not comfortable enough to go to the bathroom as often as I did at home.

As you can tell, I am so overwhelmed by the immediate situation I find myself in that larger thoughts about where I am and what I'm here to do have been temporarily pushed aside. Every moment here is new, stimulating and hard to believe.

My family wants to play cards (again). The food here is great!

Write back!

- Mark

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Nepal



By K L on Sunday, November 10, 2002 - 2:59 am: Edit Post

This is a good web page.

By Margaret R. Lim ( on Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - 4:53 pm: Edit Post

Focused by keeping the credit card line weight is as important to warrant.

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