Organization: John Jacquette Fund (Dyson School)
Dates: 6/1/2015 - 8/15/2015
In Shaibyaa's own words
How I contributed: The John Jacquette Fund wanted "women and under-represented minorities can take a risk" and I launched my project in a village, with a population of ethnic minority, which was dominated by women. It was also recommended that the funds should be directed towards a social cause and I founded a social organization with it.
What I felt most challenged by: I felt most challenged by the concept of wanting to start a project that would have long term impacts and could run smoothly even after I came back to college. Since I needed committed local partners and long term timeline ready in order to ensure that the project does not fizzle down after I leave, I h ad a lot of decisions to make.
What I enjoyed most: I enjoyed interacting with the people from the village I was starting my project in. They were very humble, resilient, and optimistic. It was a very rewarding experience to be able to help them with whatever resources I had access to.
Would I recommend this experience: I would definitely recommend people to apply for the John Jacquette Fund if they are planning on working ona social project since the faculty members involved are really nice and helpful. However I don't think we have space or requirements for interns in the organization that I started.
Organization: Cornell-Nepal Study Program
Dates: 01/23/2014 to 05/23/2014
In Sarah's own words:
How I contributed: I participated in the CNSP program which is a Cornell program located in Kathmandu, Nepal. I believe that living with members of the local community and Neplese students adds value in the cultural exchange for both us U.S. students and the Nepalese. Our research project is the point in the program where each student gets to go off into the countryside and really delve into a project of their choosing and in their control. I looked into tea production in the Eastern hills of Nepal, and compared and contrasted the differences in Darjeeling and Ilam tea structure and their advantage and disadvantage in the current market. I think contributing these research reports, and also opening up communities to ask these questions of themselves and of us-why they do what they do and the value that is placed in their current society, is something I feel this program contributes greatly to.
What I felt most challenged by: I felt most challenged by the hardships of everyday life-which in Nepal meant unclean drinking water and food. I was sick almost every week, and mentally did not feel 100% during my stay. I think learning to make the best of things and experience as much as you can despite feeling under the weather was the most difficult to deal with.
What I enjoyed most: I enjoyed getting out of the city and experiencing different areas of the country the most. Seeing the birthplace of Buddha and visiting a tropical national park, and also trekking in the Himalayas were experiences I will never forget. Of course my research period driving around the countryside on a motor bike interviewing farmers and businessmen was something that I wouldn't dream of doing in the U.S. All of it was honestly wonderful, but experiencing these incredible places and people is something I can never replicate. It was an experience of a lifetime.
Would I recommend this program? YES I would definitely recommend this program to everyone who wants an international experience that will be indescribably amazing. CNSP provides support for when you initially are there-everything from language classes to how to use the bus and our daily meals but also allows independence and by the end you are off almost on your own conducting your own research study. The level of cultural exchange is more than I think a lot of programs have-each student has a Nepalese roommate and you constantly are interacting with the local community. I actually felt like I made a lot of Nepali friends and the Cornell students that went with me have become friends for a lifetime. If you want to have an unforgettable experience, I completely recommend this program.
Organization: BlinkNow - Kopila Valley Children's Home and School
Dates: 8-Aug-12 - 6-Jun-13
In Safira's own words
How I contributed: During my time at the Kopila Valley Children's Home and School I worked closely with project founder Maggie Doyne to assist in the running of a happy and secure household for forty Nepali children. This included addressing any medical needs of the children, getting everyone ready for school in the mornings, ensuring that house chores and homework were being done, leading a daily meeting in the evening with the whole family to discuss any announcements and/or concerns, and checking that the house and children were equipped with all the necessities (clothing, bedding, medical supplies etc.). In addition to my duties in the home, I also took on an administrative role that consisted of answering emails that came into the organization, assisting in sponsorship and donation correspondence, and working to help orient other volunteers upon their arrival.
What I felt most challenged by: Throughout the duration of my time in Nepal I constantly struggled with the overwhelming feeling that my attempts to make an impact were insignificant. To see poverty on such a large scale and only have the power to affect a small portion of the problem is a very humbling reality, and one that I had to reconcile in everything that I did. It was a challenge to remind myself that the little victories in my day such as teaching someone how to tie their shoes, or walking someone through a difficult math problem, or listening to the latest short story written in an English class, were all still meaningful contributions in their own way.
What I enjoyed most: Dancing! Nepali people LOVE to dance. At every celebration or whenever there is music playing people are up on their feet, twirling their arms and moving their hips. To date the most effective stress reliever that I have found is listening to the latest Nepali or Hindi song and dancing with twenty energetic kids, it is pretty much impossible to be worked up about anything. /
Would I recommend this experience: I would absolutely recommend this program to other students because I believe that it allowed me a unique perspective into another culture, as well as a well-rounded view of the challenges and intricacies of running an NGO. I am a firm believer in the abroad experience, and more specifically in broadening our understanding of our global community. I believe that seeing and interacting with different parts of the world increases our ability to empathize with those around us, and gives us the tools to dream up realistic solutions to world issues.
Organization: Cornell Nepal Study Program
Dates: 21-Aug-13 - 21-Dec-13
In Quinn 's own words
How I contributed: I worked with my roommate and housemates in Nepal to improve their English meanwhile improving my own Nepali. While at the same time I learned about the many complexities of life in Nepal.
What I felt most challenged by: At times I was most challenged by the language and sometimes by my role as the only female American student during the semester I was in Nepal.
What I enjoyed most: I truly came to love the Nepali people and will cherish all the friendships formed for years.
Would I recommend this experience: I would absolutely recommend this program to other students because of the unique living situation, the excellent instruction, and immersion in Nepali culture.
Organization: Cornell Nepal Study Abroad Program
Dates: 25-Aug-12 - 23-Dec-12
In Megan's own words
How I contributed: The mission of CNSP was to integrate American students into Nepali life. I feel that by my interactions with Nepalis every day, and by interacting with locals on a frequent basis, I was able to fulfill this mission. By being an American who is enthusiastic about Nepali culture and was willing to step out of my comfort zone to try something new, I helped both the Nepali students in the program and the locals around the program house interact with someone from a culture they weren't familiar with while I was able to learn about them.
What I felt most challenged by: I had to take two different language classes which was very challenging for me since I don't pick up languages easily. The constant excursions into town where we would have to conduct interviews with Nepali locals entirely in Nepalese was a real challenge! But we have three dedicated language teachers that were always able to help me and were extremely patient and willing to teach me at any pace that I needed. Their patience and guidance certainly helped me.
What I enjoyed most: I definitely enjoyed being able to interact with Nepalis and travel around Nepal the most! The program allows you have daily contact with both Nepali students, but also Nepalis living in the community around you. It was a wonderful experience to be able to learn from Nepalis my own age, and to be able to build great friendships with them. There were also a lot of opportunities for us to travel around Nepal and to be able to experience Nepal outside of Kathmandu. I found the trips to Pokhara, Chitwan National Park, Lumbini, Gorkha district, and the places I visited during my research period to be really exciting and memorable. I feel I was able to experience a Nepal outside of Kathmandu, the capital of the country.
Would I recommend this experience: I would definitely recommend this program to other students for an international experience. You get to immerse yourself into Nepali culture, and leave the program feeling like you have an intimate connection with Nepal and Nepali people. You leave the program feeling you have a better understanding of Nepali culture, in both formal and informal settings, understand the nuances of Nepali day to day life, and have a good understanding of the Nepali language.
Organization: Cornell Nepal Study Program
Dates: 26-Aug-11 - 21-Dec-11
In Margaret's own words
How I contributed: I was a good representative of CNSP while i was there. By being respectful and kind in my interactions I represented the program well and promoted a positive image.
What I felt most challenged by: I had a really hard time when I was staying with a family during our village stay. I dealt with it by trying my best and talking to our TAs
What I enjoyed most: The people I had the chance to interact with. Everyone, from the program staff to my research assistant, were kinda and helpful.
Would I recommend this experience: It was unique and the opportunities open to students there are amazing
Organization: Cornell-Nepal Study Program
Dates: 16-Jan-11 - 9-May-11
In Julien's own words
How I contributed: I helped facilitate positive interactions between Nepali and American students. The program is academic, so besides the class I think that the main goal was to give both groups of students experience in the others culture. I think i worked to understand theirs and give a taste of mine.
What I felt most challenged by: It was more difficult to be away from my close friends and family than I anticipated it would be. I was able to deal with it by communicating with them as often as I could, though difficulties in personal relationships were very difficult to work through from abroad.
What I enjoyed most: I went with a very good group of people and they helped make the experience as good as it was. In retrospect, I value what I learned about the country most of all. I am able to refer to unique and interesting aspects of their society and culture frequently in regular conversation and classes.
Would I recommend this experience: It's an absolutely unique experience you are unlikely to have elsewhere. If you're looking for a bit of a challenge Nepal will give you that. One drawback to the program is that most of the semester was spent in Kirtipur, a small city just outside of Kathmandu. Sometimes it felt like we didn't get out of the program house very much, but when we did we got to experience a lot.