2009.06.28: June 28, 2009: Headlines: COS - Nepal: Mirror : One of our advisors on our trip to Nepal, Lynn Mark, is a retired Peace Corps volunteer from Nepal

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Nepal: Peace Corps Nepal : Peace Corps Nepal: New Stories: 2009.06.28: June 28, 2009: Headlines: COS - Nepal: Mirror : One of our advisors on our trip to Nepal, Lynn Mark, is a retired Peace Corps volunteer from Nepal

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One of our advisors on our trip to Nepal, Lynn Mark, is a retired Peace Corps volunteer from Nepal

One of our advisors on our trip to Nepal, Lynn Mark, is a retired Peace Corps volunteer from Nepal

He was here for three years in the early 1970s and later came back to train new Peace Corps volunteers being placed here. Today, he is a plain clothes detective in Mason, Mi. It has been 30 years since he has been to Nepal, and you can imagine how much it has changed. When he arrived here in the 70s, the villages didn't know he was coming. He just showed up one day and explained in broken Nepali that he was here to help them with their crops. He slept in a barn for the first three weeks, because there was no where else for him to sleep. During his time here, he helped start a farming and dairy cooperative (they started off with one cow). We stopped by the dairy cooperative on our journey from Kathmandu and saw what it has grown into. Now, more than 180 farmers are part of the dairy cooperative, and the food co-op has grown even larger than that. I can't describe his welcome by the locals than anything else buy heroic. People had walked for hours, some even days, from local villages to see Lynn and to thank him for what he did for their people. It was absolutely amazing to see. People presented him with so many flowers and blessings (teaka - the red dots on a Hindu's forehead) that by the end of the short time we were there, he was covered in red (from) head to toe.... By the time we left, we all had tears in our eyes and Lynn could not speak because he was so overwhelmed and overcome with emotion....

One of our advisors on our trip to Nepal, Lynn Mark, is a retired Peace Corps volunteer from Nepal

Of monsoons and villagers
Berkley teacher learns and teaches in Nepal

June 28, 2009

Berkley High School teacher Martha Cain is traveling and teaching in Nepal as a Fulbright Scholar, an educational exchange program. These are summaries of her first two reports on her experiences in that country. Future reports are dependent on the availability of electricity and the Internet.
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Greetings from Nepal!

It is hard to believe that we have been here for almost a week now. The days have blurred together, and it has become one long day of sights and sounds.

Our travels to Kathmandu went as smoothly as possible. Everyone made their plane and all the luggage arrived with us, although a bag was checked in incorrectly and ended its destination in Delhi instead of being transferred to Kathmandu...We all joked that by the end of the trip, we felt like small children. We would fall asleep and then the steward would come around with food, so we would eat only to fall back asleep for a few more hours. We would wake up to more food. By the time we got to Nepal on June 14 (we left on June 12), we were exhausted but not hungry!

The flight from Delhi to Kathmandu was beautiful as everyone said it would be. After a half an hour or so in the air, someone said they saw mountains out of their window, only to discover they were clouds. So, when someone announced once again, they saw mountains, we were all a little doubtful. However, this time it was true. I have no idea which mountains we saw, but they were spectacular and appeared to be higher than we were. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Was someone on that mountain right now? Were people on the summit looking at us fly by? I will never know, but I would like to think that it was a possibility.

Kathmandu is an interesting city. Over the last generation, its population has more than doubled, but unfortunately, the infrastructure has not kept up. No one here has ever heard of city planning or planned development. Buildings just appear. Electrical wires are just added to transformers and hang so low that if you aren't careful, you can walk right into one. There is no garbage collection to speak of. Garbage is swept into large piles on the street and either left there for the animals and people to go through or burned. The sewer is a gutter parallel to the sidewalk, often only covered by sections of strategically placed cement chunks.
(2 of 4)

OF TIME AND TRAFFIC

The pace of Kathmandu is strange. To watch what goes on in the streets, everyone is going somewhere and in a hurry, and yet, people have little concept of time. You get there when you get there....

And the traffic is something that I have never experienced before. It literally takes my breath away. Out of a city of three million people, I have only seen two traffic lights and one of them wasn't working. The general rule of thumb here is that, if you honk your horn first (in a nice, "by the way, I am coming your way" manner), you can do anything. Driving on the opposite side of the street happens so much that I often forget that we are suppose to be driving on the left side. Motor bikes whiz in and out and often come within millimeters (not inches) of hitting vehicles. Merging and right turns are a matter of honking and just "going for it," trusting that everyone else will stop, and they do....

Do you know what is amazing, however? Despite the fact that driving here is controlled chaos and literally makes me gasp at least three times a day and thank god that I am not driving (we have rented vans and local drivers), I haven't seen a single example of road rage. No one yells or gets mad. The horn is never more than a toot, and I haven't seen a single in appropriate hand gesture. People are respectful and patient when they drive....

LIFE GOES ON

(A)lthough the power goes off every few hours, life goes on. Even though we have only been here a week, even we are getting used to it. We will be in a lecture or meeting with someone from the university and the room will go dark. We don't even blink or move. The speaker goes on talking and we continue our note taking. This is life in Nepal.

And even though most families have to get their water from a public pump and carry it sometimes miles, the women never have a speck of dirt on their saris.

The people of Nepal have been kind and generous, everything the tourist books have said and more. Almost everyone speaks English, which is helpful since my Nepalese vocabulary consists of about 10 words at this point.
(3 of 4)

I have loved my week in Kathmandu. Tomorrow we are off to Pokhara, which is west of here, at the foothills of Annapurna. There, we will teach in a local Nepalese school and stay with a host family for two weeks.
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"MEMO 2: THE BREAD BASKET OF NEPAL"

Greeting family and friends!

Well, we made it safely from Kathmandu to Pokhara. The drive was beautiful, like driving through the winding passes of the Rockies or the Sierra Nevadas. Of course, in America, they drive on one side of the street and generally have guard rails, but those are just little details here in Nepal!

One of our advisors, Lynn Mark, is a retired Peace Corps volunteer from Nepal. He was here for three years in the early 1970s and later came back to train new Peace Corps volunteers being placed here. Today, he is a plain clothes detective in Mason, Mi. It has been 30 years since he has been to Nepal, and you can imagine how much it has changed.

When he arrived here in the 70s, the villages didn't know he was coming. He just showed up one day and explained in broken Nepali that he was here to help them with their crops. He slept in a barn for the first three weeks, because there was no where else for him to sleep. During his time here, he helped start a farming and dairy cooperative (they started off with one cow).

We stopped by the dairy cooperative on our journey from Kathmandu and saw what it has grown into. Now, more than 180 farmers are part of the dairy cooperative, and the food co-op has grown even larger than that. I can't describe his welcome by the locals than anything else buy heroic. People had walked for hours, some even days, from local villages to see Lynn and to thank him for what he did for their people. It was absolutely amazing to see. People presented him with so many flowers and blessings (teaka - the red dots on a Hindu's forehead) that by the end of the short time we were there, he was covered in red (from) head to toe....

By the time we left, we all had tears in our eyes and Lynn could not speak because he was so overwhelmed and overcome with emotion....

We are currently in Pokhara, the breadbasket of Nepal. It is to the west of Kathmandu. From here, you are supposed to be able to see Annapurna, but of course, we were also supposed to have been able to see Mt. Everest the other day. It is hot and hazy here and the visibility isn't farther than a few hundred meters up. Yesterday, we had our first monsoon rain in the afternoon which is supposed to clear the air and increase both the visibility and temperature. So far, it has done neither.
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HIKING ON A MISSION

This weekend we are hiking up to a local village to see a school that many professors/departments from Michigan State University have been working with over the last few years. We are bringing them a solar panel so they can have lights in their school after dark (they don't have electricity in their school). We are supposed to drive most of the way, but if the rains are too significant and the road becomes bad, we will walk. I don't think anyone in our group is really excited about climbing almost 1,700 feet with minimal switchbacks during the monsoon season....

I started teaching today at a Nepali school. The students in the school are from ages 2 to 18. Their educational system goes up to class 10. In class 10, you take a national exam. If you want to continue beyond that, what they call 10 + 2 (grades 11 and 12) then you have to either continue in your current school or you can go somewhere else. Finally, after 10 + 2, is university. Although it is hard for me to place judgment on their school system after only being in the country for a week and a few days, they seem far behind us. Today, I taught about World War I to grade 10 and no one had even heard about the war. Also, the entire lesson in their textbook was one page. Well, actually two. One page for the causes of the war and one page for the effects of the war. Two pages on WWI. We spend weeks on WWI (in Berkley) and our text has close to a hundred pages on the subject.

I will say, however, that the Nepali educational system is new and developing. Until 1948, there was only one high school in the entire country and it was only for the Royal Family and their caste. That's it. One high school. Now, they have thousands of schools!

Cain, who writes from an Internet cafe, concludes by saying a second monsoon rain was about to start and she needed to close her entry.

Watch this site for Cain's next installment on her month-long trip to Nepal.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: June, 2009; Peace Corps Nepal; Directory of Nepal RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Nepal RPCVs





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Story Source: Mirror

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