For those of you who are not familiar with the IBDP, project week is a vital part of my high school curriculum, where we have to travel to some other part of our country (mostly rural) and spend a week there for service and community development. For us, our trip consisted of a total of 15 hours of hiking and staying in mud, stone, thatch-roofed houses in the villages of Chitwan district. We had to spend 5 days there, in the midst of domesticated animals that mooed, oinked, clucked and barked pretty much every minute of everyday, with very little access to media (no television, radio and forbidden cell phone use), with hardly enough sanitary facility and with the same type of food for every meal of the day. We even had to sleep with our dried sweat inside a warm room with 6 people inside and work every day under the hot sun. I am telling you, this was really a different, tough experience and I cannot even begin how to exactly express how this whole trip was a total BUST? Hell no! It was terrific and marvellous and I honestly wanted to stay there a wee bit longer.
I am not kidding, and why should I? I mean, it was a break from IB and I needed one. Plus, I have gained so much knowledge out of the whole experience that most of them will just remain mentally in my brain for they are so deep and emotionally meaningful. However, I do think explaining them in words and in a blog would be vague, but I’ll try my best.
So we started our journey on the 22nd of March with all of our IB pals and teachers dressed casually with smeared sunscreens on our body at school. We then drove off to a hotel where we had out meetings, briefing, and lunch and stayed there for two nights. On the third day, it was time to leave for our villages; fours locations with divided groups of 14-16 students. And so, we headed for the villages after having yet another daal-bhaat (traditional Nepali meal) supper in a restaurant. The temperature was well over 25 degrees celsius and I’m telling you, we were sweating as if we were inside a sauna.
My group consisted of 16 students and two teachers. Our bus dropped us off under a steep hill, beside a rest stop. All of us were pumped in the beginning because we actually did NOT have to carry our luggage/rucksack while climbing the hill that literally looked like Mt. Everest. Ok, slight exaggeration but I would say that we are not familiar with walking 3 hours every day. So then we walked and then walked more for about 15 minutes. I was starting to feel as if my heart was going to explode and I am not even kidding. This was one of the hardest hikes I had to go through because the last hike I went was a month and a half back. Furthermore, the rate at which I was walking, I realised, was more than the rate at which I was breathing. The temperature and humidity did not help us as all. So I had to take several rests before finally reaching the village after 3 and a half hours. I was so elated to reach the top, where I saw my friends sitting there and waiting for us with a couple of villagers and children.
We were then introduced to the principal and vice-principal of the village school and other chiefs of the beautiful and calm village. We introduced ourselves in Nepali (obviously), but surprisingly, we stammered a bit because we had the habit of incorporating English words in between Nepali words, which we were not supposed to. It was difficult but we managed to interact with them well enough. So then we decided to head towards the village which was a minute walk from the school. The whole process of room hunting started, where the girls and I started discussing where exactly we wanted to stay and with whom. Of course, there was some problem with this discussion but we managed to stay content with what we were left with in the end. A friend of mine and I had actually been given a room the size of a standard studying table with an attached cupboard. I don’t think it makes sense but what I am trying to say is that the room was muy pequeña. We could only turn around and not do anything else. With heaps of quiet complaining, my roommate/friend and I were included in the group of four girls inside a relatively large room, the size of a truck. I was satisfied because I just wanted sleep. Unfortunately, that did not happen because, at night, I could hear my friends talking and walking and also the people snoring outside. But oh well…I was there to deal with anything that was going to happen, besides we were only staying there for 4 more days.
So then the next day, we woke up and got dressed for a day of hard work; painting the school buildings. The school had three buildings and so we started washing the wall, scraping off dust, dirt and what not, cleaning the windows and painting the whole building white. We managed to finish two buildings and ended the work at 3 pm. I personally had fun painting the buildings because, if in case you did not know, I like painting things. I even painted my entire room all by myself last year. I don’t think people would understand how much work we put into making the buildings look fresh and nice. We worked for 5 hours under the sun, with surgical masks and gloves on so that we do not breathe in any bit of the dirt particles. After finishing the buildings we had a hot bowl of noodles which was marvellous. We ended the day with cleaning ourselves using the tap water outside our room. I believe the highlight of this trip was coping with what was there as resources for everyday use. The village did not have private bathrooms.The only way we could clean ourselves was apparent with the water that came from the tap. Believe it or not, the water could also be used as drinking water.
Generalising the whole trip, we started each day with a cup of black tea/coffee and biscuits. We got dressed to workloads and ended the day with being content with our hard work and (thankfully) bringing smiles to the villagers’ faces, cleaning ourselves up under the tap, learning to stay clean with the only things we carried on our backs, trying to sleep on hard floor mats and our sleeping bags (with no pillows of course), trying to stay inside a room crowded with 6 girls and occasional visits from other members of our group, eating almost the same thing every day and all in all, learning about the significance of village life.
I am thankful to my school for giving us an opportunity to experience a week of village life of Western Nepal. I honestly think that this trip made me realise and appreciate the things that we all have access to transportation, medicines, books, stationaries, the internet and literally everything we wake up to each day. I could not believe that life merely 100 km away from where we lived differed so much from our “type” of living. I have definitely enjoyed this trip and gotten to know the perks of living in the village as well. It was a delightful experience!