Global Studies: Nepal

May 1, 2023

Namaste from Nepal!
Our time in this beautiful country has been filled with laughter, adventure, and learning. We’ve just ended our six day “Helambu” trek through the Himalayas and are now headed for our rural homestays.  The Helambu region is legendary among the locals as a place where spirits and witches dwell, sometimes benevolent and sometimes not. On the first day of the trek, the Gods greeted us with ferocious winds as we stepped off the bus, but granted us safe passage to our first tea house before another bout of weather upon arrival. Luckily, that trend continued: beautiful weather while trekking followed by Mother Nature’s cries at each stop. What began as rain at lower elevations turned into hail on day three and finally an all-out blizzard at our 11,000+ foot tea house. Parting clouds following each precipitation event revealed magnificent views of the surrounding high peaks.
Students showed tremendous grit as we tackled the steep ups and downs of the Himalayan hills (according to our guide, anything under 5000 meters, or roughly 15,000 feet, is considered a hill, not a mountain!). Our porters were able to lighten the load for some sore backs and knees, and students navigated the line between self reliance and self advocacy wonderfully. Trekking nearly 22 miles and 12,000 feet of elevation gain (and loss) is a commendable feat!
Two dietary staples of this course have been milk tea and dal bhat. Milk tea (black tea+milk+masala) quickly caught on as a favorite since day 1 and was a welcome treat at the end of each trekking day. We even were lucky enough to get two mid-day tea breaks during the trek when someone literally emerged from the woods with piping hot tea after walking for who-knows-how-long to reach us. It was quite surreal! Dal bhat (rice+lentils+curry+pickled vegetables) has been a favorite amongst few, but a staple amongst all. Dal bhat fueled our trek and the motto “dal bhat power, 24 hour” has become a staple in our group’s lexicon.
We are headed back into the hills for homestays after a luxurious night in Kathmandu, post trek. Students are both nervous and excited for this section of the course as it is sure to be both a cultural challenge and adventure!
Gilbo & Eben

April 24, 2023

Since we last heard from the group, they have been around and back again! Continuing to use Kathmandu as a basecamp, the group finished up their stay at the Three Trees Permaculture farm and the Namobuddha Monastery in the greater Kathmandu valley. They then set about preparing for the next section of their trip – the trek! Moving from tea house to tea house on their own two feet and carrying all of their necessities on their back, the group is currently on Day 4 of their trek through the dense forests and high alpine ranges south of Langtang National Park. As they climb ridge after ridge, the forests begin to fade away and the jaw-dropping, snowy peaks of the Himalayas become visible in the distance. They finish each day of hard hiking with simple but delicious traditional Nepali meals and warm beds in the quaint tea houses that populate this area.

After they complete their trek, this amazing cohort is heading to their homestays in the rural village of Chaukati, Nepal, where they will be paired up and move into their temporary new homes. Immersed in the day to day of the people of Nepal, our students will learn through doing, working on their service projects and continuing to create new memories with people who begin as strangers and leave as family.

We are so excited to hear more about their adventures when they return from their trek! We hope you enjoy a short journal excerpt below from senior Will King, reflecting on his time at the Three Trees Permaculture farm:

At the top of our group’s hike up a heavily forested and terraced hill on our guide Dave’s farm, we were asked to describe how we felt. Here on this hill I’ve seen dozens of amazing plants, and learned about the protection of them within this forest. I’ve also heard a diverse range of natural and unnatural noises like car horns, motors, bird calls, wind in the leaves, and the crunching of fallen leaves under my footsteps. The stories of this land are real, profound, and deeply important. The problems in Nepal surrounding land usage and conservation make me reflect upon similarities back home. What are we doing right that might actually apply to this vastly different environment? Although it is different in these woods, it is the same, the same feelings of excitement, sensory overload, respect, and returning understanding of self that floods back in every time.

-William King

April 17, 2023

What a week! From Denver to Bhaktapur, this group has covered thousands of miles, and have found themselves on the other side of the world. Although they may have been slightly delayed taking off from Denver, it has not stopped them from hitting the ground running once they made it to Nepal.

They began their journey just outside of Kathmandu, orientating and adapting to Nepali culture while staying at an innovative permaculture farm. Using this as their basecamp, they have since explored the corners of the ancient city of Bhaktapur, and are now on their way to the Namo Buddha Monastery, where they will continue to learn about Buddhism and its enormous influence in Nepali society. All of this in the first week.. and this is only the beginning of their adventure!

We will be in touch soon with more updates. Remember – no news is good news in the world of Global Studies, and although we aim to keep families informed of their journeys, it can often be days to a week in between updates. There are many stories still to come from these intrepid explorers, and we are excited to hear them all over time!

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