Thursday, July 13, 2006

My first weeks in Nepal

I have now been in Nepal for three weeks and I have to admit that it has been difficult for me to decide on what to put on this blog. There simply have been too many impressions, so instead I will use this entry to write about what I have been doing and what I will do….

First of all it is so incredible amazing to be back in South Asia. I love this chaos that seems to control the place: the many people, the crazy traffic, the cows on the streets, the noise, the sweet tea, the heat, the many strange smells and this feeling of being 100 % alive. It is difficult for me to comprehend that I am lucky enough to be living here of the next two years.

I am staying at the MS guest house situated on the ground floor of the MS office in the heart of Kathmandu. This means that my trip to work every day consists of about 30 steps up the staircase to the office. My first 8 weeks in the country I will be participating in an introduction course. So far I have had 2 weeks of language training as well as one week introduction to the country and the MS programme here. It has been some exciting weeks.

Next week will be even more exciting since I will be leaving Kathmandu on a partner visit in Nepalgunj, the town I will be living and working in the next two years. It is a 10 day field trip including 4 days transportation leaving me with 6 days to visit the two organisations I will be working in, the communities they work in, finding a house and getting to know the town, so it will be a very busy schedule. Still, I am super thrilled about going – it will be so exciting. Once back in Kathmandu I will continue with another two weeks of language training before moving – in mid-August – to the hottest place in Nepal….the Terai.

Monday, July 10, 2006

To learn Nepali....

One of my first tasks in Kathmandu is to learn to speak, understand, write and read Nepali – and yes, it is just as hard as it sounds! Luckily, I have always enjoyed learning languages and it has proven especially fun in a country as Nepal where everybody has the time and patience to be test dummies, while I stutter my way through the sentences and the grammar.

However, it is not all fun. I am constantly reminded of the importance of learning the language. First of all it seems that none of my future colleagues speak English – reasonably enough since most of them are extreme poor women – so if I am to work with them in any kind of productive way I need to learn the language. Besides from this it seems that without knowing the language you can easily find yourself in a situation where you might know where you are but not where you are going……

Because of the above mentioned reasons I have thrown myself into language training. To start with I only get 2 x 2 weeks before starting to work, so it is quite intensive training. Not only is the grammar incredible complicated and turned upside down, they also use totally different letters – pretty rude in a country where the only thing talked about is inclusiveness; currently I am feeling pretty excluded!

Lucky for me MS Nepal has two amazing language trainers who manage to make the training fun and the language understandable – partly. I have already learned 34 different letters so I am progressing, now I only need to learn another 26 letters – and then being able to tell the difference between them, naturally. So hopefully, I will be speaking Nepali in about 2 years when my contract expires…..