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Photo by Kendall Marianacci, Nepal Semester.

The Significance of Shakshuka

Approaching thirty days together, our group recently took pause from the busy routines we have developed in Patan and came together to name and honor the joys and challenges of our life in Nepal. We had a beautiful weekend where we talked about what was hard, questioned what was easy, and laughed at our mistakes and triumphs. We played ultimate, we shaved heads, we ate cake under the stars, we gifted beads of gratitude, and we read (a lot).

While our mid-course break was welcomed and necessary, it also briefly interrupted a flow that has so nicely defined our time together here in Patan.

Days have been filled with practicing new Nepali words and phrases, sharpening skills at the sarangi & tabla, talking about the philosophy of yoga, and discovering how repetitive hammer strikes on thin sheets of metal result in a meditative design. In the evenings, with our families, we have made momos and watched Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and helped our siblings with algebra homework. Life has been busy.

But in the mornings, before the sun has released its reduced autumnal heat, groups of four have made their way to our Program House with bags full of fruit and vegetables and recipes copied into journals. On alternating days students have cooked breakfast for our whole group, taking on the responsibility to ensure that fifteen are well fed and fed well. This small experiment in learning to care for others and one’s self through a seemingly simple, yet surprisingly challenging, task has had incredibly rewarding results.

We have eaten hash browns and fluffy scrambled eggs, fruit salad and danishes, roti and shakshuka. With each meal we have been in a constant state of wonder; the purposeful dedication students have shown to trying new foods, to cracking eggs they have never before cracked, to taking initiative in pushing comfort zones, is commendable, and, more significantly, inspirational.

Some say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As one who can take it or leave it, I have found a renewed sense of excitement for each morning. When I approach the Program House, and hear laughter and music floating through the third-floor windows between the aging prayer flags, my heart expands as it anticipates the warmth and smiles I will, imminently, be welcomed home with. With assuming a simple responsibility, our students have gifted me—gifted all of us—a nourishment that extends beyond that of our bodies. They have set us up for days that are full and bright and well.