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.’

The Terai

02 Jul

My question is: do I have to listen to old American heavy metal every time I come to an internet cafe in Nepal? Sometimes I just want to get up and start headbanging and see how people will react.

I just received an email from my sister with the subject line: Pei is in LA. However, the content of the e-mail was that she was in New York. Then I got an email from my friend Steph expressing her hope that I am having a great time in Tibet. I seem to be in the twilight zone … (Steph – I’m in Nepal!).

I traveled to the south of Nepal yesterday – a 13-hour bus ride from Kathmandu. I was assigned the only seat with a leaky window, and it rained monsoon style for the first 5 hours of the ride. We stopped by several hellish, slimy, stinky bathroom places again – my worst nightmare is to slip and fall in one of those toilets.

We entered the southern region, called the Terai, and the landscape changed from mountainous to very green. One of the amazing things about Nepal is that it goes from the highest mountains (the Himalayas) almost to sea level, here in the Terai. There are wet rice paddies, jungle, and unclothed children.

I fell asleep from the heat, and woke up to see that our bus stopped, sandwiched between hundreds of other buses and trucks. I had to get off the bus for some air, and I then discovered why we had stopped: a bus in front of us had fallen into about 6 feet of water. The monsoon made a river out of these highways. I finally discovered why there are always hundreds of people standing around the street idle – to push out buses stuck in water! Ooohhh. It seems like everything is always wet, or hot and sweaty. Where’s California?

Jhapa, the district I’m now in that borders India, is a fascinating region. In the jungle, people in sparse villages live in mud and grass huts; those in bigger towns live in white bungalows on top of wet, submerged rice paddies, surrounded by short palm trees. Everything is green – a lot like Hawaii I imagine. There is even wildlife in my hotel room – a cockroach, a spider, and a lizard the size of my hand. The hotel beside mine has a baby deer.

The people, as usual, are incredibly sweet. Kids come right up and practice their English with you, and run away happily. They walk you home at night without knowing you. Adults are smiley and shy. Women are dark, small, and wear huge bright saris. Men are dark, thin, and stronger than an ox. Everyone travels by bicycle or rickshaw, and the air is so clean. I see skinny cows, water buffaloes caked in mud, and tiny goats crying by the street. My 10 days of hard work putting together training materials from scratch may pay off. The NGO here wants me to train over 60 people, and I have a great interpreter.

I must not listen to anymore Metallica…

Posted By Kate Kuo (Nepal)

Posted Jul 2nd, 2003

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