Each day, after our usual morning rituals of Yoga, Breakfast, and 4 hours of hard labor, we had the opportunity to spend time with the villagers. One day after working on the school site we went to visit some of the classrooms at the current school (which was not in the best of shape). It was wonderful to see the kids in the classroom and we had the opportunity to ask them questions and have them ask us questions. One of the girls demonstrated a common game they play (similar to hacky sack but with a ball made up of wound up plastic) and then invited Roxy to try as well. They all got a good laugh from that. 😉
They’re so unbelievably cute and sweet in their uniforms and big smiling, joyous faces, and they seem so eager to learn. It definitely reminded us why we were there!
After our time in the classrooms and a delicious lunch (and don’t forget, lots of Chai!), we were given the opportunity to learn how to make pottery from some of the village women. The clay was a mixture of different types of mud mixed together along with some finely cut straw thrown in. They showed us how to make the stoves they use to cook over an open fire and bowls. They definitely made it seem easier that it was, but it was a great way to further interact with the villagers and learn more about their daily life.
After that, we were separated in to two groups (men in one and woman in the other), so we could have a “gender talk” with some of the men and woman of the village, in which they could ask us questions and we could ask them questions. This ended up being one of our favorite activities while in the village. We started out by asking them questions about different aspects of their daily lives, what they enjoyed about their village and what things they would like to see change.
In the female group, we learned that the average age for a woman to get marriage was around 20-22, which is actually older than what most of us expected. And that they no longer did arranged marriages, and that most would “marry for love” but the families had to consent. They also said that their favorite thing was the community and support they had in the village. However, they felt they lacked the opportunity and freedom to learn skills and crafts that would allow them start their own business and make money, hence giving them more freedom.
They also asked the women in our group about our lives in the US. It was interesting because many of their questions (where do we find our community, do we do farming, at what age do we get married) really didn’t have a set answer. We shared the answers for our lives in the Bay Area, but also explained that the US is a very large country and that life is very different depending on where you live.
In the men’s discussion, we talked with the elder men about changes in village life and what fears they might have regarding losing their traditional culture. We also learned that their biggest concerns for the village were having clean water and some sort of medical assistance within the village (as there is no doctor or hospital for a very long distance from the village). Many questions about American life were also asked from the men’s side, such as:
“Do Americans grow their own fruits and vegetables?”
“Do you have farm animals inside of your house?”
“When do people generally get married?”
We tried to answer their questions as well as we could, but also had to explain that the US has about 12 times more people and that you can probably fit 100 Nepals within the US, and that the culture of the people of the US varies DRAMATICALLY depending on where you are.
After we were done with the discussions, we headed back to our family homes for dinner, fireside conversation and game playing.
On our last night Roxy and Ella got to have their arms used as a canvas for the teenage cousin who lives next door to do some Henna drawing on. We soon realized that the same was happening with all of the women in our group and that this was to help prepare us for a celebration the next day in honor of our last day in the village!