Kate Kuo (Nepal)

Katherine Kuo (Collective Campaign for Peace, Nepal): Kate served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, where she worked with a local NGO to support a children’s hospital. She trained the NGO in project design and management, helped to start a small income-generating business, secured three donated computers and provided computer training. At the time of her fellowship, Kate was in her first year of studying for a Master’s degree at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. After her fellowship, Kate wrote: “The summer was extremely productive and I felt that I contributed to COCAP even if some projects were incomplete. By using my initiative and being assertive and self-motivated I designed and conducted 3 trainings for COCAP members. This was by far the most fulfilling thing I got out of the summer. The trainings required innovation, resourcefulness, and perseverance. They also took a bit of courage, trekking out to remote areas alone, where I knew no one and nothing about the town, and standing in front of people as a ‘trainer.’

Landing in Kathmandu

31 May

I’ve arrived in Kathmandu! As some of you may know, I’m doing a summer internship here, working with a local peacebuilding coalition that arose in response to the 7-year Maoist insurgency.

This place is INCREDIBLE. Tiny, maze-like streets, tuk-tuks and rickshaws, temples, traditional clothing, perfect weather. Drivers with absolutely no regard for pedestrians. The mix of Buddhism and contact with the West through mountaineering is fascinating. It feels a lot like Peace Corps except with more color and a lot more smiles. It’s a truly beautiful place and still very medieval. Off to explore the streets now!

Nepal is truly “exotic” in the best sense of the word. Over 20 ethnicities, 60 castes – Hindu and Buddhist – incredibly diverse features, lots of color, and lots of smiles despite the poverty. Jewelled faces, impossible loads on people’s heads and backs. These two weeks I’m working with a lawyers’ association that deals with torture and disappearance cases. Will work with more human rights groups around the country in the next few weeks.

Went to a morning prayer session in a major tourist town called Patan yesterday, which has preserved its royal square and streets for over 800 years. Every year around this time, a giant sacred chariot is pulled through the towns and everyone comes to worship, both Hindu and Buddhist. A Buddhist priest sits inside the chariot, and people walk around it continuously, throwing rice and flowers. Women lighting and guarding hundreds of candles, men singing, the destitute begging under the wheels of the chariot.

My host’s brother and I then went to visit his grandma, who lives in a brick and mud building, built hundreds of years ago in the winding streets behind the palace. Long, white hair, an ochre face, and a constant smile. I have no idea how she handles that house at her age. She has huge tattoos on the back of her ankles from the time she was a girl, has never worn shoes, and wears clothing she made herself 25 years ago. She was most incredible!

Posted By Kate Kuo (Nepal)

Posted May 31st, 2003

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