Home sweet home

March 30, 2017 | Pédina,Tanzania, Uniterra, Cultural Tourism Marketing Intern, Mto wa Mbu

I have to start with the fact that I am totally sad that my mandate here in Tanzania is about to end in a few weeks. These past two months have passed way too quickly and it’s difficult to accept that I will have to leave this wonderful country that I can now call HOME.

Tanzania is not only amazing because of the beauty of its nature and wild animals, but mostly because of the people who are so welcoming and friendly. It’s incredible how there is a strong value of human connection here, whether if people know each other or not, they will greet each other just as a sign of respect. This human connection value has giving me a sense of belonging and is one of the many reasons why I feel at home in Tanzania.

What I find even more impressive is that there are more than 120 different tribes in Tanzania and they all live together peacefully no matter their differences of cultures and religions. I was personally concerned before I came here of how I would be perceived as a black woman that is not from Tanzania, but the funny thing is that most of Tanzanians think I am also Tanzanian. The only funny issue with this, at the beginning, was that the first language people were talking to me was swahili, the national language. However, facing this language barrier ended up being a good thing, since it forced me to learn swahili faster, a beautiful language that I hope one day I will speak fluently.

Working with the Tanzania Tourist Board, I’ve learned so much about the tourism industry. I am particularly working with a Cultural Tourism Enterprise (CTE) from a village called Mto wa Mbu. My role as a cultural tourism marketing intern is to support this CTE to manage online marketing for their Cultural Tourism products. Marketing is not really related to my study program, which is Conflict Studies and Human Rights, but I am very grateful for this work opportunity, since it is a great personal learning experience and I developed new professional work skills.

Through my mandate I also had opportunities to visit other CTEs, but I also visited and learned a lot about the CTE I’m working with in Mto wa Mbu. For example, last week, I spent three unforgettable and amazing days in a Maasai village, an Indigenous tribe located in northern Tanzania and also southern Kenya, where I’ve experienced the Maasai lifestyle and their traditional ways of living. Mto wa Mbu is an amazing village to experience rich cultural diversity and I am having an amazing experience working with their CTE.

New and exciting experiences, personal growth, professional work experience and much more are what you gain through an International internship. Therefore, I would encourage anyone thinking of doing an International internship to definitely do it!

I am absolutely in love with my experience here in my sweet home, Tanzania! Three months in this wonderful country is clearly not enough, but I am really thankful that I have the chance to have this amazing opportunity. For now, I will make sure that I enjoy my last weeks here and hope that it doesn’t go as fast as the past two months (obviously it will…

My day-to-day in Tanzania

March 1, 2017 | Catherine, DVM, Arusha, Tanzania, Tanzania Tourism Board, Tourism Product Development Intern, Uniterra

It is hard to believe that I am already two months into my internship here in Tanzania. It has passed so fast! The first month was a whirlwind of setting up and developing my mandate and specific role with the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), and then just when I felt settled into a day to day routine I began a three week work trip through the South.

I returned from the that trip to the South yesterday, and as with the end of any trip I have mixed feelings - I am happy to be back in one place with stability, but also sad to have left the adventures and exploring of the South. Over the past three weeks I road tripped with my boss, his boss, and another colleague through Southern Tanzania. We visited many different up and coming Cultural Tourism Enterprises (CTE’s), did evaluations, and ran trainings. It was definitely go-go-go and exhausting, but also incredibly enriching. I had the opportunity to see a whole other region of Tanzania, to get to know a great number of beautiful people from different tribes and cultures, to taste their food and learn their ways, and to step outside my comfort zone time and time again as I was continuously challenged to think on my feet and be innovative. As with anything, there were highs and lows, but the highs definitely outweighed the lows, and I come out of it with awe, gratitude, and joy from my experience.

My work with TTB is very cool. Essentially, I am responsible for evaluating the capacities and needs of (mainly) new CTE’s, developing tailor-made trainings according to that assessment, and then administering those trainings with the operators and guides from the programs. It involves a lot of field work, since I need to visit the actual CTE sites and often experience some of the programming to do a proper assessment. I like to joke that my job is hiking to waterfalls, tasting coffee, and learning traditional dance; however it is much more than that. Field visits happen almost weekly when I am working out of the city I live in in the North, and then I will generally take a few days to complete the evaluation and develop and run the trainings with the operators. However, when I am on the road in the South it is another story entirely.

Road tripping through the South was an experience in itself. I had the opportunity to see parts of Tanzania that many Northerners have never even seen. The trip was aimed at visiting and training as many CTE’s as possible in the timeframe during which we were on the road. This meant that we would be up at sunrise doing programming and interviews with operators in morning, and then I would have approximately 15 minutes to complete my assessment and create trainings according to the needs I discovered. Then it would be time to run the trainings, right then and there, with the CTE operators and guides, before going on the road to the next site. To say it kept me on my toes would be an understatement. I was definitely challenged to think on my feet, and always be multitasking the assessments with planning trainings in my head while doing the activities and meeting with the operators, but I loved it. Personally, having actual work to do and being challenged is something I really enjoy. Sure, it meant I fell into bed exhausted every night, but it also meant that I was learning and growing every single day. Over the course of the trip we visited cultural tourism programs in Morogoro, Mikumi, Udzungwa, Iringa, Ruaha, Mbeya, Uyole, and Rungwe. Some of these sites were right off the main road, whereas others involved hours bouncing over a dirt road with my head out the window trying to keep my lunch down. Although each site varied in the programs they offered and the environment they were in, they all featured motivated and friendly locals, excited for the possibility of sharing their culture and traditions with tourists. It was heartwarming to be welcomed time and time again into the homes and lives of locals across Tanzania. People love to share here: they share their food, their traditions, their stories, and most importantly who they are as people.

The incredible experiences that have become my day-to-day in Tanzania have taught me so much. I have definitely learned a lot in a professional capacity, but I have also grown as a person. I am now a master at going with the flow while having absolutely no idea what is going to happen next, as well as framing sensitive gender questions so as to open a conversation without offending cultural sensitivities.

I truly can’t believe I am lucky enough to have one whole month more of adventures here in Tanzania and I can’t wait to see what this beautiful country has to offer next.

Beyond the allure

February 16, 2017 | Jessica, DVM, Vietnam, Centre for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS), Youth Engagement Officer

Just like living anywhere, there are incredible experiences you have with breathtaking memories of mountaintop views and beautiful people. But for every awe-inspiring moment, there are just as many – if not more – contrasting misunderstandings and frustrations. I want everyone back home to understand that just because I am living abroad doesn’t make each day spectacular. I still have mundane days where nothing exciting happens at work. I still have days where I just can’t seem to get out of bed. I still have some evenings where all I do is eat and sleep. And that doesn’t even begin to describe the bizarre situations or communication misunderstandings I find myself in every day.

Not that I’m complaining, I just want to denounce the belief that every single day living abroad is filled with silver linings and balloons. Reality check, it’s not. I’m not on vacation; I’m here with the ups and downs of living and working in a new place, and all the complications that come with it. I prefer it this way to the honeymoon feeling of being on vacation. You can’t truly experience the beauty of a place without an understanding of the other darker side to it. For this reason, I do not think I would enjoy backpacking though this country, as the more touristy locations only expose the shiny side. When you venture out just a little, you see the real Vietnam.

Sometimes I struggle with the small things. Often I feel like I am just completely on my own to figure things out as I am living solo in an apartment which takes an hour commute to work. The local partner I work with hosts international volunteers who work outbound at other places like schools and hospitals, and I am seeing that they have so much support and convenience living here. Sometimes I become really jealous of that and find myself thinking it would be so much easier just living here; everything would be provided for me and I wouldn’t have all that wasted extra effort on the small things. For example, I had to figure out how to register myself and my visitors with the authorities (it is a requirement in Vietnam for all foreigners), where to go to pay my bills, how to get my phone card, how to get my bus pass and figure out the bus routes on my own. My kitchen composes of one hot plate and a microwave, so I’ve had to be creative cooking my meals. I’ve had some support from the WUSC local office, but the day-to-day stuff I’ve always been completely on my own.

Even going to the market is hard for me because as a foreigner I am charged more and treated differently. Often if they speak no English they will just ignore me. Even when I’m trying so hard with a combination of my limited Vietnamese, actions, and translate ap I often find myself shoved in a corner. What frustrates me is when other foreigners condemn this behaviour as rude. I really don’t think they’re trying to be rude. My suspicion is that they genuinely just don’t know how to interact in this type of situation because it is just too foreign to them, so they just brush it off. I’m guessing not that different from how the average Joe in North America would act if it were reversed.

Foreigners complain all the time about being overcharged for things – from fruit to taxis to Northface jackets. A dollar goes so much further here than dong seems to. When you’re talking about d50,000, it seems like a lot relatively, I think people forget the actual value is only about $3. I’ve seen people haggling over d5,000 or d10,000 which is really only a matter of cents. I’m not guilt-free either; I’ve caught myself doing the same thing before realizing I’m making a big deal over $1. Recently I learned that an average income for a respected position in Hanoi is between $250-$400US. Foreigners teaching English can easily make $20-$25US/hour, let alone my student position living allowance is nearly double that. No, I don’t mind paying an extra $3 for fruit.

When I catch myself getting irritated by all these small things I just remember why in the first place I fought so hard to be here. I don’t want normal; can’t do it. I wanted to be completely independent, travel alone, and figure things out for myself for once while travelling. I had the option for a homestay with one of my supervisor’s family but declined because I wanted to see how I would do on my own and deal with struggles. Honestly, it makes the experience so much more worth it rather than having everything handed to me. Yes, it’s been exhausting, but much more rewarding for each small victory. I get the pleasure to see the real – broken and uncensored Vietnam, not just the tourist version.

Pourquoi moi?

November 22, 2016 | Daphné, MDG, Myanmar, Le Forum des fédérations

Au fil des semaines, durant mon stage à Yangon, je me suis beaucoup questionné sur la valeur ajoutée d’une/un stagiaire étranger/étrangère pour un organisme local. Puisque je suis au deuxième cycle, je dois écrire un projet de recherche de plus dans le cadre de ce stage. J’ai donc fait une lecture par semaine au sujet d’expériences internationales de courtes durées. J’en ai beaucoup appris, et ces lectures hebdomadaires ont été la source principale des questions puissantes que je me suis posées tout au long de mon séjour au Myanmar.

Les questions qui me reviennent le plus souvent, et qui me dérangent un peu, sont : pourquoi m’engager en tant que stagiaire, eu lieu d’un(e) stagiaire local(e) qui parle déjà birman et anglais et possiblement une des langues minoritaires ? Ne serait-ce pas énormément plus bénéfique pour eux à long terme de former un étudiant d’ici ? Par dessous tout, est-ce que je ‘vole’ une des rares opportunités d’emploi ou d’expérience professionnelle du pays ? On a essayé de plaire à qui en m’envoyant ici?

L’équipe avec laquelle je travaille a pour tâche d’informer la société civile au sujet du fédéralisme et de la démocratie, à travers des centaines d’ateliers partout au pays. Je n’ai pas d’expérience en science politique, et peut-être que cela représente une des raisons pour lesquelles je ne me sens pas aussi utile que je pourrais être, mais j’ai tout de même l’impression que tous les efforts, l’argent, le temps - de ma part, de la part de l’université, de la part de mon organisme à Ottawa et ici - surpassent le niveau d’apprentissage que j’ai acquis et ce que j’ai pu apporter à l’organisme. C’est un sentiment assez déplaisant.

Ironiquement, tout ceci me rend également très heureuse. Le fait que je ne suis pas nécessaire dans mon bureau traduit quelque chose de plus puissant : mon équipe est auto-suffisante. Durant ma première semaine, mon patron m’a dit que c’est une ‘petite équipe, mais une équipe robuste’ et c’est entièrement vrai : ce sont des gens d’ici, qui comprennent l’histoire, la langue et la culture du pays, et qui, malgré le financement du ‘Nord’, n’ont besoin de personne pour diriger leur bureau, et surtout pas d’une stagiaire occidentale. Bien sûr, mon organisme n’est pas sans influence occidentale, puisqu’il a débuté au Canada et y a encore son quartier général, que notre grand patron demeure en Allemagne, et que mon patron birman a fait sa maitrise en science politique en Europe, mais j’admire à tous les jours le travail de mes collègues et du bureau qui est principalement ‘par et pour le Myanmar’.

J’ai également eu un autre type de réalisation dernièrement. Je réalise que je suis venue ici pour mon développement professionnel avant tout. Par contre, je trouve que j’ai principalement accompli des tâches dans lesquels j’excellais déjà, et que je n’ai pas développé beaucoup de nouvelles compétences. Par contre, bien que ce soit important de pouvoir s’épanouir professionnellement dans le cadre d’un stage, ce besoin vient bien loin derrière les besoins de base dans la pyramide de Maslow. Ces besoins de base que beaucoup des citoyens et résidents de mon pays d’accueil ont peine à satisfaire. Alors, je suis qui pour être déçue ou frustrée de ne pas pouvoir rajouter quelques phrases impressionnantes sur mon CV, alors que des milliers de gens au Myanmar dorment sur le plancher de cabanes qui servent aussi pour leur commerce ? Hmm’ouais… je me sens petite dans mes shorts en regardant ma situation sous cet angle.

Si, par mes nombreux rapports, j’aide réellement mon équipe à justifier son financement à nos grands patrons et que je leur enlève le poids de cette tâche monotone afin qu’ils puissent se concentrer sur l’organisation des ateliers et autres tâches plus importantes, est-ce vraiment important que je développe de nouvelles habiletés ? Le but de ma présence ici n’est-il pas d’aider l’organisme local ? Alors, si mes compétences en écriture rendent service à l’organisme, ne devrais-je pas m’en réjouir et me sentir très utile ? C’est plus facile à dire qu’à faire, évidemment. Je suis constamment en débat interne entre ‘je ne développe pas de grandes compétences pour me faire une place en développement international’ et ‘c’est ça le vrai développement, dans le fond, c’est aider où on m’a besoin et pas faire uniquement les tâches qui font mon affaire’. J’ai appris il y a longtemps lors de mes études en criminologie, et maintenant en développement international, que l’aide n’est vraiment utile que lorsque sollicitée. Alors pendant mes dernières semaines à Yangon, je m’efforcerai de mettre mes besoins personnels de côté.

Par contre, le cercle vicieux se referme parce que je me retrouve à me dire qu’un(e) stagiaire local(e) pourrait facilement faire le même travail que moi. Et imaginez ceci : mon organisme avait initialement engagé une stagiaire locale pour m’aider dans mon travail et faire la traduction vers l’anglais des documents écrits en birman (!!!). Elle a rapidement donné sa démission, mais cela laisse tout de même matière à réflexion. Il me semble que c’était moi le pion de trop dans cette équation.

Je ne me plains pas du tout de mon expérience. J’ai appris à devenir plus humble et reconnaissante, à comprendre des dynamiques culturelles complexes, et à poser plus de questions sur les enjeux qui me tiennent à cœur. À chaque jour, j’ai amélioré mes connaissances sur le fédéralisme et la démocratie, en plus de vivre et voyager dans un des plus beaux pays et de côtoyer les gens les plus généreux et gentils de la planète. Malgré tout, je ressens une pression d’être à la hauteur de cette expérience à mon retour au Canada, et de produire quelque chose de grand pour rendre justice à tous ceux qui ont travaillé fort pour que je puisse me retrouver ici.

In case of an emergency…

October 26, 2016 | Michelle, DVM, Forum des Alternatives Maroc “FMAS” Chargée de communication en appui à la société civile pour la COP22

While we discussed sickness during the pre-departure days, and while I somewhat expected to get sick while I was here, I also (naively) hoped that it simply wouldn’t happen, and that if I set my mind to it, I would be fine. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

In my second week, during a meeting, I started to feel ill and immediately knew that something was about to go badly. On my way back to our apartment, in 28 degrees, I started feeling extremely cold. By the time I got home, I was shivering uncontrollably and putting on every piece of clothing that I had brought to Morocco, including a down coat.

To make a long story short, I vomited and shivered and sweat and couldn’t get warm for the better part of two days. My entire body was in extreme pain, and my head ached like crazy. In a sort of delirious state, I told myself that this would pass if I just waited, but eventually started getting scared and thought I might need to see a doctor.

When this dawned on me, however, I also remembered that I had used all of my cash and would not be able to make it to a bank machine to get more in order to pay for a taxi. If that weren’t enough, when I picked up my phone to call the insurance company and figure out which hospital to go to, it was out of credit. So there I was, insanely sick, with no money, and no ability to phone anyone.

Thankfully, when my colleague got home from work, he called the insurance company and figured out which medical facility we should go to if it came to it. My supervisor also extended the offer to drive me there, for which I was immensely grateful. Even so, I realized that if I had been alone, I could have been totally screwed, and learned some important lessons in the process:

1) Figure out where the (most appropriate) hospital / clinic / medical facility is, what its hours of operation are and how to get there before you get sick.
2) Make sure you have enough money (cash) for a taxi to get to a medical facility.
3) Make sure you have enough phone credit to call the insurance company or someone else to help you.

In the end, I did start feeling a tiny bit better, and gradually regained some strength. There happened to be a scale in the apartment, and when I was finally well enough to get up and walk around a bit, I was shocked to discover that I had lost 3kg in such a short time frame.

I don’t really have a clear idea what caused this - perhaps a sip of tap water, or perhaps some fruit offered to me from some very kind local people on a train. Regardless, I have been quite careful ever since and pretty much given up on the idea of “getting used” to tap water here in order to minimize the amount of plastic bottles that go straight into the garbage, even though this pains me.

Creating your own role

August 2, 2016 | Hana, ECH, Alternatives, Maroc - Forum des Alternatives Maroc,

I have been blessed with my job experiences in that I have learned to create my own role, create my own tasks and make my unique skills of use to others. I study human rights and conflict studies but I have an innate passion for numbers and some graphic making competencies. What I learned through my different work experiences is that people generally are not too great with visualizing data and that my skillset is actually really useful and helpful for just about any organization and especially ones that deal with the public and have to distill information. Knowing this after the first couple days passed and I wasn’t given any work I decided to show my superviser some of things I’ve done so he could make use of my graphic design abilities. This then opened a new horizon, giving me work to do, a freedom with my work as my expertise was trusted and proven and work that I genuinely like to do and helps me strengthen my portfolio.

While I understand my situation is a little unique because my skills are a little unique you never know what will be of use to someone and so for those who are finding it hard to get into the flow of work and who don’t really have work to do, try and talk to your supervisor(s) and show them your skills and interests. That way they can find something that’s tailored to you and so you feel of use at your work place.

I have attached one of the graphics I have done. It is a map of Morocco divided by the 12 regions of Morocco that outlines the election observation committee’s observation capacity. The colors represent the percentage of the regions that have observers, the size of the people represent the number of observers and then there are the names of the observer supervisors under the region names. This is only one out 49 different maps I have done since I’ve gotten here.

Ma phase la plus difficile du stage… c’est le départ

July 28, 2016 | Winnie, ESAPI/GSPIA, Alternatives, Nicaragua, Alternatives Nicaragua, Colectivo Madre Selva

La formation de prédépart nous a donné les outils nécessaires pour faire face à un certain nombre de choses lors du stage à l’international. Certains ateliers nous ont fourni les instruments pour gérer les risques et le stress et d’autres ateliers nous ont fourni des instruments pour comprendre notre organisme d’accueil et notre rôle au sein de l’organisme en question. Dans certaines situations, il fallait poser des questions puissantes et dans d’autres, il fallait se créer un réseau, se faire des amies sur qui compter, lesquels aideraient à mieux affronter certaines situations.

Hélas, nous n’avons pas appris comment se défaire de tout ce que l’on aura construit, ou encore comment gérer la séparation avec des amis une fois le séjour terminé.

Durant les trois derniers mois, je me suis faite toutes sortes d’amis, aussi bien des hommes que des femmes, avec des nationalités différentes. Parmi ces amis figurent ceux avec qui j’ai passé la majeure partie de mon temps et dont m’en défaire sera difficile. Compte tenu du faible niveau d’utilisation de la technologie ici dans mon pays d’accueil, la seule façon que j’ai de pouvoir revoir mes amis est de revenir au Nicaragua. Or, les chances sont assez faibles pour l’instant. Mes moyens sont limités et la plupart d’entre eux ne possèdent pas de comptes sur les réseaux sociaux. Ceci s’explique surtout par le fait que l’accès à l’internet demeure encore un luxe dans ce pays.

Pourtant, les liens créés avec ces personnes sont à un point que je me demande comment je vais pouvoir gérer cette séparation. De plus, je n’ai jamais aimé dire au revoir aux gens, car je n’aime pas les adieux et le moment de dire au revoir est venu. Je suis donc contrainte d’y faire face.

Lors de mes dernières expériences à l’étranger, la séparation était assez facile, car rare sont les cas où j’ai passé trois mois. Le plus souvent, j’ai eu à faire deux mois, 5 semaines ou quelques jours, à l’exception bien sûr de mon expérience d’échange universitaire. Les conditions du séjour ne m’impliquaient pas autant avec les personnes de la place. Trois mois sont assez long.

Effectivement, l’échange universitaire s’est effectué sur quatre mois et la séparation n’était pas aussi compliquée qu’aujourd’hui. Je n’avais pas eu le temps de créer de vraies relations qui conduiraient à une amitié solide. Je n’avais pas eu le temps de bien connaitre les personnes de mon entourage. J’avais juste le temps d’étudier. Le temps passait tellement vite qu’à peine ouvert les yeux, la période d’échange était déjà terminée.

Alors, je ne me souciais guère de revoir les personnes avec qui j’avais passé mon séjour à l’étranger. La relation n’était pas suffisamment solide pour que je me préoccupe de ce qui arrivera par la suite.

Aujourd’hui, je laisse, au Nicaragua, de véritables amis dont il me sera difficile de les oublier d’aussitôt. Ces sentiments s’adressent surtout aux personnes qui ont pris soin de moi durant ce stage : Marlyn, Dalila, Don Louis, et surtout José Antonio et sa maman Panchita Francesca.

Ce sont là les personnes qui m’amène à me poser la question de savoir comment est-ce que je vais pouvoir gérer cette séparation qui va créer un très grand et triste vide dans nos cœurs respectifs.
L’unique réponse que j’ai pour l’instant c’est le temps. J’imagine que le temps m’aidera surement à passer à travers cela. Mais, pour l’instant, il s’agit ici, pour moi de la phase la plus triste et donc la plus difficile de ce stage.

I’ll miss my corn guy

July 27, 2016 | Hana, ECH, Alternatives, Maroc - Forum des Alternatives Maroc,

With only a couple days left I can’t help but noticing the everyday things that brought joy to my Moroccan life. One such this is the feeling of community. Every everyday interaction you have with someone carries some type of warmth, whether you’re buying something, saying hi to someone or getting help to figure out where you’re going. Stores here are not like stores in Canada, prices aren’t fixed, people are animated and want to talk to you. They want to teach you their language and culture, they want to know about your language and culture and all of it is done with genuine interest and a sense of humour.

I could never have anticipated how attached I became to the guy I buy eggs from or the guy I buy fruit from or my personal favorite, and who seemingly disappeared, the corn guy. These people don’t even need to try to talk to me just by virtue of me going to them for my food needs I’ve developed a relationship and an attachment, so much so that If I go to another corn guy it feels like it’s cheating. The juice guy, the laundry guy, the olive guy, the bakery lady, the other bakery lady, the telephone guy and the list goes on. It’s a true sense of community and has helped me integrate into the neighbourhood seamlessly.

Thank you so much wonderful vendors, you made my stay homey and full of joy (not to mention food).

What Nepals means to me

July 27, 2016 | Halla, CECI, Uniterra, Non Timber Forest Products, Market Research Officer

What does Nepal mean to you?

Nepal means to me a very experimental experience.

Nepal means to me finding random spots around the house to hang up my laundry. Nepal means to me trusting that the restaurant sanitized the vegetables they serve me. Nepal means to me earthquakes, and the monsoon season. Nepal means to me trying to charge my laptop and phone in the washroom, because that’s the only plug that works during load shedding. Nepal means to me figuring out where the tuk tuk will drop me off, and whether I will make it out alive from the bus ride. Nepal means to me mosquito bites. Nepal means to me a very beautiful culture. Nepal means to me the vibrant colors of the tikkas and kurtas. Nepal means to me the perseverance of a 65-year-old woman to go to her farm every morning at 5am. Nepal means to me the laid back atmosphere of forgiveness. Nepal means to me early morning milk tea. Nepal means to me Dahl Bhaat lunches and dinners. Nepal means to me Anu’s cheese sandwiches after a long day at or trip for work. Nepal means to me feeding the stray puppies and cows. Nepal means to me an aftermath of last year’s earthquake and blockade.

Nepal means to me mountains peering over hills. Nepal means to me sun rays blanketing the tip of the mountain and the bed of the hills. Nepal means to me a river flowing in the valley. Nepal means to me a bush of green, and a land of brown. Nepal means to me hills. Nepal means to me the city. Nepal means to me the mask that I must wear during polluted days. Nepal means to me a buzzing 5 a.m. hour, and a quiet 8 p.m. hour. Nepal means to me smoldering heat going south, and freezing cold going North. Nepal means to me elephants, cows, dogs, crows, pigeons, water buffalos, cats, goats, chickens, and insects.

Nepal means to me people. Nepal means to me Rebecca. Nepal means to me Katie, and Shannon. Nepal means to me Gele. Nepal means to me Sarita, and Subu. Nepal means to me Dhiraj, and Madhulika. Nepal means to me Dibya, Shushma, Sagun, and Keshav. Nepal means to me Kaushila, and Abhya. Nepal means to me Anna, Kate, Benoit, Rosie, Nathalie, Veronica, Richard, Anna, Virgenie, and Danny. Nepal means to me Anu. Nepal means to me Didis and Dais. Nepal means to me Jis, Uncles, and Aunties. Nepal means to me a self growth experience. Nepal means to me a reassertion of what I value in life. Nepal means to me a question of who I am and who I want to be. Nepal means to me learning how to budget. Nepal means to me caring about people and animals who need caring for. Nepal means to me loving myself and protecting myself. Nepal means to me taking care of my body. Nepal means to me treasuring the little things.

Nepal means to me being different, and acknowledging differences. Nepal means to me showering everyday, even in the cold water. Nepal means to me reading the fine print on anything. Nepal means to me my first experience with a full-time job. Nepal means to me missing my little sister’s high school graduation, and my older sister’s thesis defense and graduation. Nepal means to me a different type of education. Nepal means to me documenting, observing, learning, and teaching.

On the hunt for mountains and snickers

July 27, 2016 | Halla, CECI, Uniterra, Non Timber Forest Products, Market Research Officer

Field life is fun, always on the move, always working, and always meeting new people. I love being productive, because it keeps me from getting lonely, or most of the negative trains of thoughts. It’s quite stressful at times, but a good type of stress.

Two things that have been relieving some of my stress are snickers and mountains. The thing is….snickers and mountains are also the two things that are hard to come by in the field. It’s like playing a game of Finding Waldo, less the man docked in a convenient red and white striped crew neck. My team and I have even began keeping a tally to see who finds the most of the two (winner gets a snickers bar). Playing silly games like these also help pass the time in the car, while traveling. Our Driver-Dai is in on it, too! It’s always fun having our Driver-Dai stop the car when he too spots a mountain, we all get down and have mini photo sessions. Or when we spot snickers bars in small wall convenience stores, and our Driver-Dai backs up in narrow roads, and we get a few bars. Being on the hunt for mountains and snickers has revived my love of road life, and traveling and has made working long hours easier!