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Embracing the culture

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: International Citizen Service, Nepal

Not much has happened in my placement this week. Unfortunately the school has closed for two weeks due to the cold weather, which in my opinion is still much warmer than England's winter.

I feel fairly lucky to have been placed in Rupandehi, as my placement is pretty close to Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, and somewhere I hope to visit before I leave.

This was the first week of the school closure and at first I was enjoying it, but by the end of the week my opinion had changed. The week was overall relaxing, but eventually I started to think about home and, adding that to not sleeping well, I started to feel slightly homesick. It was only very minor though and nothing a phonecall home couldn't solve.

Me with my host family: my 'aama' - mother; 'buwa' - father; and 'bahini' - niece.

Making my blogging and my contact with home a lot easier is the fact that Shreedhar has now registered my phone to use the internet. It only costs about 1p per hour to use and, by my reckoning, is a similar speed to the cyber cafe. The mobile service in Nepal is generally cheap all round: it costs only 1p to text and 2p per minute to ring a mobile in Nepal; and 5p to text a mobile, or 12p per minute to phone a landline in England.

On Saturday we conducted our activity for the week with the youth club. This was a workshop on how to organise meetings and other activities - the first of 11 topics that we must cover in total. It went very well, with 20 under 25s and five overs attending (bearing in mind that 'youth' in Nepal is classified as under 40).

My host home has three floors: including a roof, a balcony on the second floor (the same floor as my bedroom) and a bicycle shop on the ground floor. I share a room with Shreedhar and after speaking to some other volunteers am very lucky, especially since we have carpet and proper curtains rather than wooden shutters. My bed is a simple wooden bench, but with the bedding provided by Restless Development it's comfy enough to sleep on. I have no mosquito net, but have seen very few in my time here. I'm still taking my anti-malarial tablets each day, though, with no side effects other than slightly dry skin on my arms and legs.

I suppose it's time I came clean and told everybody that I'm fully embracing the culture and doing things 'Nepali' style. For people who don't know, this means that I'm eating with my right hand (no cutlery) and using my left as a substitute for toilet paper. It's actually very effective and much more sustainable than using paper, so maybe it will catch on in the UK....

ICS volunteers Esi, Mohammed and Ceri
Podcast: returned ICS volunteers.

Ceri, Esi and Mohammed volunteered for ICS last year. Hear them talk about their experiences in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya in the latest DFID  podcast. Listen here, or subscribe on iTunes.

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  1. Comment by Jenny L posted on

    Well am I proud of you!
    Embracing the culture like a true professional - go for it!
    I can see the Gluyas household transformed in the months to come.

    Take care and keep enjoying all the change and experience.

  2. Comment by Miss Wright posted on

    Hi Matt - glad to see things are going well - best wishes from all of us at Penryn College

  3. Comment by Rachel G posted on

    Hi Matt - sounds great. Your Mum gave me the details of you blog when I picked the boys up from school this week. What a great adventure - something you'll remember forever - make the most of it!! It is certainly miles away from doing Maths at Truro College ....
    Take care

  4. Comment by Lucille & Tom posted on

    Hi there. Have been talking to your Mum and she mentioned your blogg so i thought I'd look it up.
    Sounds like you are having an amazing time and you seem to have adapted incredibly well and quickly to a very different culture.
    Well done for getting to grips with the no cutlery. Wwe wxpwrienced this in India and I was afraid i would forget and use the wrong hand for the wrong thing - but its amazing that you dont' forget which is which!
    Anyway - take care and enjoy. Lookforward to hearing all about your ecperience in full when you get home xx

  5. Comment by Keith and Jenny Dumont posted on

    Great to read your blog Matt. Hope things continue to go well, sounds like a fantastic experience.

  6. Comment by Julia and family posted on

    Well, Matt - How lovely an eye opener for sure ! from KGB to Nepal if a lot further than Stithains to John O'Groates !!!! Keep up the adventure and your daily tablet.
    You may feel a million miles away, but technology brings us closer.Take care xxxxxx

  7. Comment by Cath Cullen posted on

    Hi Matt,
    Your mum has told me about this blog too and it is fascinating to read and to see the photos of Nepal, your family and you. It is amazing to sit in Stithians on very cold -3C, for us, evening and think of you in such a different place though I am sure lots of things are the same too. Just been talking to Lynn on the phone because she has just been a heroic saviour of village hall IT sessions. your project sounds very successful too, hope you continue to enjoy it.
    best wishes