Worth Traveling to Nepal for Only 6 or 7 Days?
March 7, 2007 7:06 PM   Subscribe

Should I go to Nepal?

I recently went to Nicaragua with Building with Books to help a village build a school. I was in the village for 2 1/2 weeks, stayed with a host family, and supervised a group of 10 high school students from the Bronx as they adjusted to a radically different lifestyle and daily routine.

In April I have an exceptionally long break, 11 days, and I could go to Nepal to help with the construction of another school, already well under way. This time, however, there would be no kids. Just me, a translator, and the villagers, working on this school. My experience in Nicaragua was life-changing, I think I'm going to teach for one more year and then apply to International Development Master's programs...I feel like this trip would be a step in that direction, as it would be more hard core than my original trip to Nicaragua.

The major downside is time. 11 days would give me around 5-6 nights in the village, with 1-2 in Kathmandu to site see. The plane ride is ridiculously long (though I've been to Asia several times and it's not an issue)....it's just not a very practical trip, but it's a trip I'm very much intrigued by.

I know this question is unanswerable, only I can answer it, but what do you think?
posted by bronxteacher to Travel & Transportation around Nepal (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Dude (dudette?), if it were me, I'd do it. And to be honest, it sounds like you want to do it, you're just looking for some sort of approval. Therefore, I decree your desire to go to Nepal "Totally rad." Quit asking us, you already know you want to do it. And by the by, I'm jealous.
posted by billysumday at 7:10 PM on March 7, 2007

Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt. I don't on any level think "no," or even "perhaps not," or even "well....maybe?".

Tibet isn't even likely to EXIST much longer is it? And so some day you will tell your kids, grandkids, etc. "Once upon a time in a land far away there was a place called TIBET, and I was there, building schools, doing a good thing that sets a positive example for you lil' munchkins."
Every single person I know who has been (which is all of 2 people) has had an absolutely life-changing phenomenal experience, found the people to be friendly and welcoming and so deeply, spiritually, emotionally educational. Of course, one of the people came home with malaria, but she thought she picked it up in Pakistan.

If you don't want to go, please let me know - I'm in Brooklyn and would pretend to be you to go to Tibet in a heartbeat.

2nd the Jealousy. Four and a half times over.
posted by bunnycup at 7:18 PM on March 7, 2007

Uhm, by "Tibet" I meant "Nepal" and by "jealous" I meant "admiring". The end.
posted by bunnycup at 7:19 PM on March 7, 2007

It's a lot of travel, but five days in a village where you have contact and reason to talk to people sounds totally worth it to me. It sounds like in your heart you've decided to go, and I'm totally envious. I'm not even going to give you advice-- I'm wishing you a good trip.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:42 PM on March 7, 2007

Yes, it's a shame you can't spend more time there, particularly considering how much of the trip is going to be spent in the air.

But look at it this way: if you don't go, you won't see anything, guaranteed.

This is like one of those trick questions that's not really a trick question: Which would you rather do: spend a few days in Nepal, or don't?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:48 PM on March 7, 2007

Do it! Why are you even wasting a question on this?
posted by easternblot at 7:57 PM on March 7, 2007

Yes. No matter how long or short you are there, you'll have those memories and experiences for a lifetime. And that rocks.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:00 PM on March 7, 2007

I'm not actually greatly opposed to such trips myself, but given the enthusiastic response you've had you might consider these negatives that spring to mind from my time working in and around international development projects in Asia.
Only do it if your presence is essential to the success of the project (for example, if you were passing on skills absent in the local community). By and large, it's local initiatives staffed by local people that make the big differences in development. Wait until you can make a long-term commitment or you run the risk of engaging in what I've heard called "development tourism."
The resources used to get you out to the village if given directly to a well-managed local initiative would have a greater and more sustainable impact on the lives of those you want to help. Is this about you or about them?
Please fell free to ignore this cold water, as in the cosmic scheme of things, these aren't either/or questions, but there may be some food for thought in there.
posted by Abiezer at 8:13 PM on March 7, 2007

YES! (ok, nothing new here except my personal experiences)

Nepal is one of my favorite countries in the world...the people are dedicated, honest, hardworking, spiritual, accepting, and funny. The children are especially endearing and friendly. All this in one of the poorest places on earth--refreshing to say the least.

Not only will you do something for an incredible cause, you are sure to feel fulfilled.

Namaste :)
posted by hazel at 8:18 PM on March 7, 2007

Yes, experience from different regions (Latin America and Nepal) will provide you invaluable experience applying into Masters' programs in development studies. Many folks have experience in 1 region, but 2 is far better.

IAADSP (development studies prof).

The down sides to this don't even blip the radar. Grab the chance and have fun.
posted by kch at 10:24 PM on March 7, 2007

IANADSP, but I'd be concerned that you'd be doing more harm than good by going on the trip. The carbon footprint of the flight is significant and I don't see how you could do enough good work in 6 days to make up for this ethically. If you donated the money you would spend on the trip to the project - this would represent a significant windfall for them I'd imagine.

As Abiezer said, is this about you or about them?
posted by hazyjane at 12:09 AM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: IAAADP (almost a development professor). Of course it is about you, not them, and that is ok. You are interested in a career in international development, and this spring break trip will definitely help you on that path, so it is worth doing just for that alone. Hopefully while you are there you actually do some good (helping get the school built, making the locals feel happy that someone came so far just to hang out with them, perhaps contribute funds to the project directly, etc), but the real purpose of all short trips like this is for the participants, not for the locals. As long as you are conscious of that, and remain conscious and self-critical about it once you are a full time development practitioner, and make sure that things are being done ethically, I think it is fine.

If nothing else, having worked (albeit briefly) in both Nepal and Nicaragua, you will be better able to evaluate claims and assertions you will encounter in your forthcoming masters program. Without having seen these places, and understanding at least a little how people interact, you won't have a basis for judging competing claims about different development strategies, etc. (That said, if you have any way to spend more time somewhere, maybe over a summer, or even better one or two full years, take it. Long term work in a developing country forces you to think about and confront difficult issues that a short visit allows you to gloss over or never notice. So as you ponder your idea of a career change, consider budgeting in the time to work overseas longer first. As a trained teacher (assuming from your user id), you are in a position to make real contributions, either as a classroom teacher, helping with curricular development, etc. And that longer term work would make a perfect bridge into your new career in development work.)
posted by Forktine at 2:28 AM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm not up on Nepal these days - not sure whether it's safe to go right now. Check out the current US State Dept travel advisory. And if you decide to go, keep up on the situation - it's a bit volatile there right now.

That said, and assuming it is safe enough to go, I would definitely go (if it were free). Nepal is a magical place, and a free trip is not to be turned down lightly, even if it is only for a few days. If it's not free, I wouldn't go if I wasn't fairly well off - I'd rather save my money to go on a longer trip to Nepal, or to go someplace else down the line.

I wouldn't discount your impact on the world and this village either, but you need learning experiences if you're going to do development work, and this sounds like a valuable experience.
posted by Amizu at 5:46 AM on March 8, 2007

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