I had only known a few basic facts about Kathmandu from my readings prior to the trip, but I don't think many travelers books would have been able to describe the calming nature of this large valley city. Although the city has a population of almost a million people it had a very relaxing and calm feel to its streets. Part of this may have been the strong religious presence, which seemed to primarily be composed of Buddhism, with a magnificent temple (or what they call a Stupa) on nearly every major street corner. I unfortunately know little about Buddhism, but it was clear that its presence that consists of deep meditation and prayer has a significant impact on the city making a wonderful atmosphere of peace. Above is a picture of the Boudhanath Stupa, which is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Nepal and one of my favorite stops.
There is really nothing I would have changed about this adventure except that I wish it was longer, but school calls and there can only be so much fun for now. We're back with our classes as we prepare for final exams, which is a marathon for the students that involves a 2 hour test for 8 straight school days. Even though teaching is very challenging I do not envy my students and I'm just happy to proctor the exams instead of taking them. More traveling fun is soon to return though as we prepare for our pilgrimage around southern India during the summer vacation in the month of May. We will travel to a variety of destinations such as Chennai, Kerala, Goa, Bangalore, Mumbai, the Ajanta Caves, Darjeeling, and more. India is such a diverse country with so many different languages, cultures, and sites to see it'll be thrilling to set off in May.
I would be lying to say being a volunteer teacher is a walk in the park. Some days are very stressful and make you wonder why you are doing what you are doing, while others leave you with a feeling of accomplish that keeps you going. Having the ability to travel a lot during this year is a nice perk of this Extension India program and I really think it gives us a great opportunity to indulge in some self-care, which is vital when working in any field. In case I do not get to blog before I leave for the South, enjoy the spring and I'll fill you in with hopefully a broader taste of India come June!