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Photo by Kendall Marianacci, Nepal Semester.

Nepal Is

According to one of our guest speakers, 85% of Nepal’s population lives in rural areas. Having heard that statistic sitting in the beautiful, spacious room of our Kathmandu program house, the truth of what this meant did not set in until being here, living with a family in the rural mountain village of Chokati, Nepal. Having explored the historically rich city of Bhaktapur, traveled to the nooks and crannies of the vibrant, bustling city of Kathmandu; walked up and down, over and across the “Nepali flat” Himalayan Rowaling conservation area… it was hard to imagine a side of Nepal that we hadn’t seen, hadn’t slept in, hadn’t fully immersed ourselves in. Walking into Chokati on the afternoon of April 9th, I realized how wrong I had been. Because the depth and history and culture of this country is so unique and lives so deeply in the people- there is no defeating it; taming it; writing about it. So I will explain what I have gathered from this small corner of the world as best I can: Nepal is dhalbaat power, 24 hour. Nepal is a mountain that you spend all day climbing, leaving you soar and blistered and ready to sleep anywhere- and being told by Pasang that “we are still in the foothills of the Himalayas- and today was only “Nepali flat.”’ Nepal is two 10 year old girls tying a scarf to their backs and carrying around their baby brother. Nepal is being taken in as a didi, a bahini, a daughter, a friend. Nepal is the most genuine smile I have ever experienced from my homestay sister as she shares her coconut candy with me. Nepal is thunder that shakes the mountain side- it is clouds that look like paintings. It is harvesting breakfast at 6am, cooking at 7am, eating at 9am. It is card games and field work and tea every morning and evening. It is not being alone, even if there are no words to be spoken. It is not saying thank you because the golden rule always applies. It is vast, it is beautiful, it is resilient and loving. It is a place that has taught me more about myself than I knew was possible… It is a place I know I will return to.