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Nepal Semester Student's Catherine Von Holt's photograph of the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu.


Nine of us from across the US, Canada, and Cambodia met atop the roof of the Shechen Guest House in Boudha, southeastern Kathmandu Valley, to explore concepts of learning service. Nine different voices relating their stories. The nine routes that bought us all here may be different, yet we are all united in our belief of the importance of experiential learning.

Our guides for this experience, Claire and Jason, began the process of developing group rapport by sharing our motivations and our insecurities. Already we felt comfortable being open an honest with one another — surely a great omen for our program. We journeyed from our monastic home, through a temple gate that is in the midst of being rebuilt following the earthquakes of 2015, down to the Bouddhanath Stupa. There we joined with the people of Boudha as they walked the circle around the giant stupa. The sights of the spinning prayer wheels, moved by human hands meant to remind us of the role of the individual in spreading peace, the sound of the multi-colored prayer flags gently flapping in the dusky sky, and the smell of incense brought us into a moment of both sensory overload and the calmness that comes with participating in an ancient collective ritual. We ended the day together by eating the traditional Nepali meal, dal baht, in the Nepali way, mixing and eating rice, lentils, and vegetables with our right hands.

Our first day may be over; our journey is just beginning.

PS. Jackie was so inspired by our opening activities, she wrote and shared her first ever poem…

There Are So Many New Things It’s Hard To See What You Saw

Bells are chiming with an echo
Buildings old, new and retro
Prayer flags flap in the breeze raw
A crow and friends a constant caw
My thoughts keep racing it’s time to let go