The strange smells, barking dogs, honking horns, ringing bells, and distant spiritual songs are beginning to become all too familiar. Due to my recent illness I’m looking forward to returning back home in some regards. Despite being extremely cautious I’ve managed to maintain sickness for about 3 weeks. The children are extremely sweet, always asking how I’m feeling and if I’m OK. They also like to joke about my weak American stomach and it’s inability to handle Nepalese food; “Sister cannot eat”. That being said, despite my illness I am still in love with Nepal. I am terrified of how much I am going to miss this wonderful diverse place.
This week the children have back to back exams. I was very excited to have more opportunities to travel but it’s also extremely hard to watch the kids study day after day all night long. There is no playing and very little conversing. As my time here slowly dwindles I am starting to feel much more connected to the children. Suttam is like my older and younger brother, at the same time. I love watching his facial expressions from afar, I have no idea what is being said but just watching him interpret the conversation brings me happiness. Suttam is 100% boy. His favorite things to talk about are how strong he is, what he likes to eat, including any bug that would cross his path (supposedly), and of course, soccer. Today I showed him a frog punch, (or a knuckle punch where you stick out the knuckle of your middle finger. Ow) after a few punches he became wide eyed when I said “Ow!”. “Bring pain sister?!” he asks with the most innocent expression, “Yes, you’re too strong!” I tell him, which he then follows with a sheer devilish grin. Sudasam and I have also grown close. Sudasam struggles with his English, but has the kindest most telling eyes. They carry so much emotion. Despite our language barrier, a smile is worth a thousand words with Sudasam. I like to stare at him and wait for him to look up and our eyes to meet, the smile then shared between the two of us lasts for at least 30 seconds. He has so much love to give.
It’s hard to watch them stress over their schoolwork. I want to play with them and give them study breaks, but at the same time in their culture study time is extremely important and to be taken seriously. Even if you are 11 years old during exam week you can go without play time. All Nepalese parents may not be this strict but I do not want to challenge their caretaker on this subject, so for now there is very little play time. I try to incorporate some activities when I can. I suppose this week has been harder for me for that reason, as it feels as though I’m already losing them. I also feel as if I’m hardly helping at all, without teaching during the day and no playtime at night it’s as if I’m slowly leaving them… and in truth I am.
This past week we have travelled to Bouddhanath, Buddhist Stupa and Chitwan National Conservation Park. Bouddhanath was beyond peaceful. I have dreamt of experiencing this site of pilgrimage for months. The prayer flags extending in all directions and wavering in the wind, sending the many prayers to the Gods are truly spiritual. Buddha’s all seeing eyes (Nepal’s symbol of unity) are painted on every side of the temple. The eyes radiate truth, honesty, nirvana, and justice. I am also extremely glad that we were able to travel to Chitwan. We were fortunate enough to manage clear weather in just enough time to witness a second himalayan range. The Ganesh Himal range was just as beautiful as the Annapurna range. Experiencing the Asian jungle and clay houses were also very important to me, in demographically understanding Nepal. This region was completely different from the mountains and the city. The people were so in tune with nature. The elephants are more than sacred, but a way of life, a necessity. The bus driver stopped the bus and got out to personally escort the goats safely across the road. Jesse and I were also able to witness a cultural program with singing and dancing.
Riding an elephant through the jungle was more beautiful than words can describe, thanking the elephant after and being able to touch her was extremely transcendent.
The principal at the school tells us “You are our dictionary” in that exposing the children to our presence and native English is enough in it’s own right. Though that hardly seems like enough, I’m not sure how much good I am doing, besides taking the children out and being a new sister for them to play with. Maybe it’s just that the more I grow to love them the more I wish I could offer them the whole world and everything I have. That being said, I feel the strongest gratitude towards everyone who has helped me accomplish this journey. Thank you to my parents, family, friends, professors, the office of Undergraduate Research, and FSU. 20 years of life spent dreaming about this beautiful continent and now I am truly living Asia. It’s no longer the mysterious East, but my home for the summer.
That’s enough for now. Trying to keep these a little more short and sweet! Namaste, and with all of my love, a Sudasam selfie, and spying on Suttam.