Hello all, my name is Bradford. I’m happy to welcome you to the next steps of your journey to the place called Nepal— a truly unique and amazing area of this planet!
Are you feeling excited to soon be immersed in a land of snowy peaks and jungle valleys, smiles and namaste’s, stupas and incense, narrow alleys and starry night skies, old kingdoms and young democracy, scrambling monkeys and spinning prayer wheels, notes of ragas hanging in the morning air along with the steam from spiced milk tea?
Congratulations on making the big decision to go out and challenge yourself on this trip. It is fascinating to see where a choice like this can lead in a person’s life.
I’m passionate about many things in this world, but one of my biggest loves has to be the love of stories, both the ones we observe and the ones we tell. I can’t help wondering about this group of ours that is now starting to come together. Already I am curious about who each of you are:
What are you up to right now as you sit and read this?
Which experiences have shaped the story of your life?
What makes you feel alive?
What do you hope these coming months will bring?
And for that matter, how did you end up at the start of this trip to a new place with new people and the promise of all kinds of new experiences?
As for me, a childhood of learning from the love and wisdom of my family in the Midwest and South of the United States was followed by high school years that were inspired by punk rock subculture and the beginning of an appreciation of just how complicated life can be. Then came a lengthy road trip with friends across the United States, and after, my first long travel overseas: to East Africa, where upon arrival I walked alone out of the small airport in Entebbe to a night full of new sounds and sensations, with the task of getting myself to my first hostel. That trip led to things I could have never imagined and set me on a long and winding path that will bring me to meet you in Kathmandu this fall.
I’ve always been drawn to experience many things, and I hope you are too. After getting a degree in Asian Studies, I went from teaching at colleges in the US and high schools in Japan, to working on educational development with a non-profit in rural Cambodia, supporting the professional development of local staff and researching best practices; from working in refugee resettlement in Philly to being an advisor for international students studying in Seattle. During a year of travel throughout India, I entered Nepal for the first time in 2015– a year that also brought the devastating earthquake that I suspect you have all heard something about.
Recently, I’ve been an instructor on trips in Nepal, India, and among communities of the Tibetan Plateau. In between these trips, I have been traveling around Asia on my own having adventures, making connections, and learning new things, as well as studying and practicing emergency medicine on an ambulance in the United States.
A very exciting part of travel is how it opens up particular kinds of opportunities for learning about yourself and learning about this world you are a part of. For many, the space created is transformative, and being a part of that space with others is a humbling privilege for me.
Someone once asked if I could give only a single piece of advice before our travel, what it would be. My answer was “to care, with humility.” The degree of impact that travel through Nepal can have depends on how much you open up your thoughts and feelings to Nepal. If you don’t care much, or fail to acknowledge your expectations and assumptions, it will be hard to be affected much. Let yourself learn and care about the people and the places, the history and the cultures, the stories of daily life and the state of the natural world, and Nepal will suddenly reveal that it is able to have an incredible impact on your life.
I’m looking forward to hearing more about you in the coming weeks… and then months, as we all start to become a “traveling family”! Please feel free to post your questions here on the Yak board. You may have questions others can learn from.