Hi everyone! At the end of our second full day in Kathmandu, we’re sitting on a romantically lit roof-top garden, trying to remember all that’s happened in the past two days. So far, it’s been exciting/tiring/eventful/overwhelming and especially eye-opening. We are exhausted, but we are enjoying it.
Yesterday, we explored the district of Thamel where we have been staying. It was much different than what we had expected. Thamel is an eclectic mixture of colorful, bustling storefronts, nonstop honking, cars driving on the left side of the road, and the occasional cow roaming freely. As our PHASE Nepal coordinator Gerda put it, the cows have pretty much full impunity here in Nepal.
After getting an initial taste of Thamel, we had our first in person meeting with Dr. Gerda Pohl who works as the Medical and Volunteer Coordinator of PHASE. As one of the founding members of PHASE Nepal, Gerda had a lot of insight to share and endured our barrage of questions. One thing that resonated with us as GlobeMed members was her description of our time here not as volunteer work, but as service learning. She defines service learning as gaining an understanding of organization and culture while also offering your services.
Today, we began our day at the PHASE Nepal office where we met many of the staff members involved in PHASE. We worked particularly with Claire, another founding member of PHASE who is also an expert on development education. In a discussion-based workshop, she gave us big questions to think about, and we explored our role in development work and globalization. She asked us to both introspect and to analyze the status of the current global development movement; she emphasized that there are not always answers to these questions, but they are still important to ask. We discussed things like “Is development a new form of colonization?” and “Knowing the problems and complexities of wealth redistribution in the context of charity work, what can an individual do to better the status quo?” It got really deep the more we talked, and Claire was an amazing facilitator. It was a great way to start our internship and a good framework as we prepare to leave for Rayale, the remote village we will we staying and working in.
After our pretty intense and thought-provoking workshop (and a really good Nepali lunch with all the PHASE staff in the office), we walked to Pashupatinath Temple, a World Heritage Site that is one of the holiest shrines for Hindus dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was a beautiful and sprawling complex, with multiple temples atop a steep hill and a holy cremation site on a river that runs continuously. There were monkeys everywhere. And cows roaming freely (like slow city deer). People from around the world come to cremate and pay respect to their loved ones, and to pray. We appreciated the chance to walk through the temple grounds, and be in the presence those who came to mourn or worship.
In just a few days, we’ll be traveling to Rayale. Until then, we’re looking forward to getting to know the rest of the PHASE staff, seeing more of Kathmandu, and learning about the PHASE philosophy. (yeah, we just ended with an alliteration).
Can’t wait to blog again!
Your GROW team (still workin’ on our acronym)
“Nick your backpack makes you look like a turtle.” -Morgan
“Let’s put the Go-Pro on a monkey.” -NJ
*Reilly scales a tree* “Emily you’re the coordinator do something” -Morgan