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Photo by Catherine Von Holt, Nepal Semester.

Un-defining

We are in a place called Panauti.

We are in a place called Nepal.

Without really thinking about it, it’s easy to make countries the units we use to measure places. Despite the fact that they didn’t exist once upon a time, they won’t exist one day, and they may not really exist in a lot of people’s minds even now.

And photos could easily become the points used to string together a story and call it ours.

But we don’t have to.

As boundaries were redrawn on a new map, the people inside the lines, with all their connections and backgrounds, suddenly officially became “Nepali.” All of those lives became defined: “them.” Or so we could say.

And the memory of a time could become just the photo we took, and be kept inside a frame.

But as light filtered into the camera, it also went out in a hundred other directions.

And there is so much possibility in the eyes of the people I see every day. And I hear a lot of talk that makes me smile, makes me laugh, makes me hopeful, and makes the sky somehow seem more blue.

When connections are made between people, or between ideas, it seems like there is a new possibility that didn’t exist before, like I’m seeing the horizon expand. It feels amazing.

Then a place seems different from the way we first pieced it together. The photos seem less flat. And the connected ideas and connected people feel like a lot more than just a trip bound by three months.

We are in a place called Panauti for a little while longer, and Nepal a little longer than that, and I believe in a lot to feel grateful for, and in joyful lessons yet to be learned.