NJP Spring 2019, like every year, started with excitement and enthusiasm, fear and hope, expectations and optimism. 10- Day long collaboration between NC students and Japanese students not only culminated into a fruitful research experience but also a strong bond among each other. Despite long, hectic schedules and a number of surveys, presentations, and discussions, we glided through 10 days in a blink of an eye, not wanting to part ways in the end.
The 1st of March marked the beginning of our project. The Japanese team arrived in their hotels a little late due to delay in their flights but were kind enough to immediately start the formal introduction session not wanting to keep us waiting. Despite anticipations on how our partners would be, we had a great start interacting and knowing each other better. We welcomed the Japanese team to our college on the second day and after a filling Nepali lunch proceeded to the much awaited Bota Momo Factory to see how Momos were made. The next stop was the Monkey temple where we conducted two surveys to familiarise ourselves with the process. Our Japanese partners were thrilled by the ambiance and the serenity exuded by Swyambhu. Our second day was a good trailer to what we could expect from the rest of the week.
Despite long, hectic schedules and a number of surveys, presentations, and discussions, we glided through 10 days in a blink of an eye, not wanting to part ways in the end.
Besides researches on three different themes i.e. Women Empowerment, Employment and Cultural Heritage along with NC’s research on Empowerment of Teachers of Community Schools, another crucial part of this project were the two school activities. It was conducted in Budhanilkantha Madhyamik Vidhyalaya in Budhanilkantha (March 3) and Shree Secondary School in Chitrasari, Chitwan (March 7). Waste Management and Friendly Society for Differently- Abled Person were the two key programs of the school activities which were conducted through presentations, discussions, poster making, and practical sessions.
Lumbini and Chitwan were decided as our major survey sites. We reached Lumbini on our fourth day but despite exhaustion from our 8- hour long road trip from Kathmandu, we conducted a few surveys of the locals. The next day, we accompanied our Japanese partners to the monasteries inside the premise of Lumbini and conducted surveys. We could see that our partners were intrigued by the vastness and tranquillity of the place, details of the monasteries and the kindness of the locals.
The next day we made our way to Chitwan early in the morning and reached on time to attend a lecture by an official of National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) about its work in conservation. Our next stop after lunch was the Everest Beer Factory where we observed the process of beer making which was an interesting experience for both teams.
The following evening and the next day were jam-packed with surveys around Sauraha, Bachauli, and Tadi. The locals were cooperative and all of us had a great learning experience conducting surveys all the while interacting with our partners and sharing about our respective cultures.
We also had recreational activities such as Tharu Dance, Elephant Safari and Canoeing which were enjoyed by everybody. We had a Cultural Night in our last night in Chitwan which was definitely one of the highlights of our entire project. Both teams showcased their cultures through various forms of dance and this definitely provided some respite for all of us.
On March 9th, we returned back to Kathmandu and immediately headed to Patan Durbar Square for sightseeing and surveys. The rich history, art, and architecture and grandeur of Patan were fascinating. We visited Nepal Silk Trust the next day where we had a short briefing followed by our final survey. The following night was our Farewell Dinner and Alumni Meetup where we expressed our gratitude to each other and celebrated the successful completion of NJP Spring Project 2019. We finally said our goodbyes to the Japanese team on March 11th hoping to see them again next year.
NJP Spring Project 2019 was a rollercoaster ride. We had our highs and our lows, unexpected twists and turns but we have come out stronger from the experience we garnered collaborating despite the language barrier. The skills we have acquired, places we have visited and the bonds that we have formed were definitely worth it and we are absolutely looking forward to the project next year as well.
Written by: Avipsha Rayamajhi, NJP 2019