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Instructor Introduction – Rishi Bhandari

Greetings dear Friends,

I hope this summer season has been wonderful for you wherever you are and I applaud your decision to welcome the fall with an exciting adventure. It’s an immense pleasure to travel with you as your instructor along with my wonderful colleagues Uttara and Aditya this fall and I hope to learn from you too. I get asked a lot what keeps me coming back to do this work and without a doubt the first thing that comes to mind is your presence. Every participant that I’ve worked with has helped me see the world in a different light. Every participant has been a unique role model. I have also been lucky to have cultivated meaningful friendships with participants from past courses. This makes the work incredibly rewarding. As your instructors, it is our job to make sure that we design and deliver a course that is going to be safe, adventurous and meaningful. It gives me joy to prepare for our upcoming adventure. We are getting very excited to welcome you to Nepal and are actively engaged in planning for our trip together.

Fall (or autumn) is also the most vibrant time of the year in Nepal. Two of the major festivals of Nepal (Dashain and Tihar) fall in this season while the weather is also at its finest. It’s the time when Nepalese in different part of the world come home to get blessings from their elders and celebrate this season with the family. This season is vibrant and friendly which is very symbolic to the spirit of the Nepalese people.

Filled with excitement, you are probably reading about Nepal, trying to gather information and maybe something about Nepal has been appealing to you to inform your choice to take this gap year. But often times the strongest informers are the narratives we construct in our head, notions ingrained in us, we create stories that sometimes come in the way of understanding a place. As normal as it is to do this I hope you also cultivate an ability to look beyond these narratives so that you are able to see a place with a wider perspective. My intention here is foster an unbiased curiosity, unhindered from the notions of good or bad, beautiful or ugly, rich or poor, authentic or inauthentic. If we can support each other in seeing Nepal this way, I would consider this course a smashing success.

Let me take this opportunity to introduce myself a little bit. I grew up at a spiritual community in the southern hills of Kathmandu. At the community I lived with more than 100 people sharing the same food, sharing work, tending plants and animals together, learning from each other, singing together and meditating together. Over the past decade and half I have been involved with educational institutions both as a student and a mentor. Over the years I had opportunities to travel to take part in the alternative education conferences as a participant/speaker. Since the past two years I have devoted much of my time leading several different types of courses with Dragons in Nepal, India and Senegal. I just came out of a phenomenal summer course in Bhutan. In my free time I love to read non-fiction, write poetry and listen to music. I also love running, hiking, climbing and anything to challenge myself physically and mentally.

As a person born in Nepal and raised by these rivers, mountains and people, it’s an immense pleasure for me to introduce you to this place and the people. Nepal constantly astonishes me by how there are so many diverse cultures co-existing with each other. I am excited that you will soon get to live and learn with locals and get a glimpse of traditions and cultures that have been there since generations and are so vibrantly alive at the present.

Over the next weeks we will be updating this Yak board with important information about the course. Please do make sure that you check the yak board for introductions from your fellow travellers and post your introductions with a picture. Yak board is also a great place to ask questions about the course if you have any. The instructor team will make sure to reach out and help you in whichever way we can. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me through email ([email protected]) or Skype (aurorishi).

Looking forward to connecting with you all.

Warm Regards

Rishi

“The single story creates stereotype and the problem with stereotype is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete, they make one story become the only story.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Danger of a single story