In just a few hours, I'll be embarking on my journey from Kathmandu to Cape Town, officially starting PHASE 3 of my Watson year. Hard to believe it's already been four and a half months! Time is flying...
My final days in Nepal have been a good combination of relaxation, preparation, wrapping up the project, and saying my last goodbyes. On Friday I did one last school visit, to the St. Xavier Higher Secondary School, a private Jesuit academy.
|St. Xavier Higher Secondary School|
This was by far the nicest school I've been to in Nepal. In addition to being a chewing gum and plastic bag-free zone, the school was also stunning, with gardens and huge sports fields. I gave my standard talk to an auditorium full of 11th and 12th graders, having them first individually answer the same five questions I asked of the students in Pokhora. Here were some of the most interesting responses:
- "Stars are just symbols of our own feelings with we see as glittering light."
- "A planet is a light like the one I saw rising in the east this morning."
- "There are so many things that humans are not able to explain or explore and this is ridiculous." (In response to "What exists in our Universe besides planets and stars?")
- "Is it possible for a black hole to be made in Nepal?"
Overall, though, again I found that most students gave standard definitions and answers. Stars were said to be "heavenly bodies that twinkle and are made of gas." Planets were "heavenly bodies that orbit around stars." Other things in our Universe included meteors, satellites, asteroids, moons and galaxies. Some students knew the Universe began with the Big Bang, but many didn't know what it was in detail. And, the most common question asked by students (about 50%) was "ARE WE ALL GOING TO DIE ON DECEMBER 21, 2012?!?" So while there was some variation in the room of 200-300 students, many of their interests and ideas were along the same lines.
As I prepare to leave this country and think back on my time here, I feel really proud of all of things I've accomplished and really grateful for the people I've met. I've had a very active life here, going on adventures and to schools almost every day. Simultaneously, I've had a lot of time for reading, writing and introspection. It's been incredibly rewarding to be in motion and seeing my project come to life. After seven and a half weeks here, I feel like a better educator and more confident traveler.
But in all honesty, I couldn't have done it alone. I have so many good friends here who have made fantastic adventure companions and a great support network. Special thanks to Sudeep Neupane and the Nepal Astronomical Society for helping me to realize my project and making my time here so meaningful. And so with that, I say a sincere Danyabad (thank you).