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Photo by Catherine Von Holt, Nepal Semester.

Village Homestay

I never expected the barrier of language to be so real. The people of Chokati speak less English than I do Nepali, and i just learned my first Nepali word two weeks ago! Hand gestures, nodding, and saying raamro dhanyabaad (meaning good thank you!) were the extent of it for the first few days.

The second day of which I experienced an episode of what we like to call the double dragon (for those unfamiliar with this travel term, it’s essentially vomitting and diarrheaing at the same time). So waakwaak lagyo meaning sick to stomach worked its way quickly into my vocabulary. Dont worry mom and dad, all is well.

Despite this verbal misunderstanding, the connection I am making with my homestay family in this rural village far surpasses what words can even begin to describe. My homestay mother, Chandeshwari, is a shy but warm 20 year old mother to a four year old ball-of-energy boy, Amir. They welcomed me into their small, mud-walled and tin-roofed home with excitement and I’ve been thrilled to learn their way of life. It’s incredible that only two years in age separate Chandeshwari and myself, yet our roles as women in society and our general circumstances are so different. She has lived in Chokati her whole life and wakes up at 5 every morning to support her family by preparing meals, cleaning the house, doing laundry in the communal tap, and looking after her child; this lifestyle and routine being so different from my own at home. I’ve been soaking in ever moment helping her out and playing with Amir.

The sense of community here is unlike one I’ve ever experienced. Almost all spaces are communal and everyone is considered family. I’ve been given the Nepali name Ismerti and Amir calls me Ismerti didi, meaning older sister. Being welcomed into such a community as a total outsider is enough to break down any barrier of language, race, or privilege, and I’m beyond grateful to call Chokati my home for two weeks.

Attached is a little sketch I did of my home here, just as it is.