My time here in Nepal has come to a close, and I know that when I picked up writing for the paper I became much worse about updating my blog. I’m leaving the country early tomorrow morning on a plane bound through Istanbul and then on to New York City. Despite the wonderful time I had here, I am certainly ready to head back to the wonderful place I am fortunate enough to call home.
My last assignment for the paper was to write a short blog post about my experiences here. It ought to be published on the Nepali Times website before too long, but I thought it might be a nice thing to throw up here as well:
Thank you Nepal
Working with the Nepali Times these last couple months has been a privilege and an honor.
Like many international travelers, I had made my plans to come to Nepal well in advance of the quake. After the 25th of April I received a lot of discouragement from many folks around me who knew of my plans. Stuck in the pall of assumption and misinformation, they encouraged me to stay home where they presumed it was safer. They thought I was trying to be the hero, swooping in after the disaster to lend my infinite wisdom and guidance as a 20-year-old college student. Everyone claimed to know that the last thing Nepal needed was for me to go.
I wasn’t alone in that situation, and the result is too many people didn’t come. That defeatist attitude continues to sap the Nepalis it is intended to protect. The economy of Nepal and the livelihoods of countless individuals I’ve spoken to over the past eight weeks rely on tourists and those tourists are missing out on a hell of an experience when they cancel their plans here. Nepal doesn’t need my infinite wisdom or my guidance. It needs people to come and witness its majesty, serenity, and resolve in the face of a rebuilding process many in the West can’t even contemplate.
Everything is being rebuilt, not just buildings. Politicians are rebuilding their reputations as well as the countries potential. Writers and journalists are rebuilding the national image. But it’s the ordinary, working citizens that present a tenacity that’s inspiring to me. The women dressed in beautiful traditional clothing and the men in flip-flops and shorts tossing bricks from a monstrous pile to the back of a waiting truck. The children helping to cook under tents in the middle of a chaotic city and gather food in the high mountains of Rasuwa.
I don’t think that my journalism will leave an indelible impact on many people here in Nepal. However I do think that if I had been able to read the words I have written in the last two months I would have been much more confident in my decision to come. That is worth a lot, and I feel proud to have been able to write words that carry potential for a real impact.
That message isn’t breaking news to anyone here, but it’s the beginning of a piece of the long-term transition back to normalcy. Nepalis are proud of their country, and I have never disagreed with them for one second. As I move on in my education and career, I’ll never stop encouraging others to come too. And of course, the adage has proved true: visiting Nepal once is never enough.
Until next time,
Peregrine B. Frissell
(Also published for the Nepali Times)