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Report on the Nepal Study Tour 2018 at the Kiinsai Campus Festival


During the Kiinsai campus fair festival held on the weekend of November 3–4, 2018, presentations were given on findings and results of the fieldwork carried out by participants in the Nepal study tour as part of the Practicum for Convivial Global Society.

Energy Problems in Nepall
Nepal is one of the poorest developing countries in the world, and suffers from a chronic shortage of electricity. The country has rich reserves of water, and the topography is well suited to hydroelectric power, but a lack of development means that regular power outages lasting several hours a day have to be implemented on a planned basis. My research is on materials of photovoltaic cells, and the idea that the situation in Nepal could perhaps be improved by use of photovoltaic cells was the starting point for my research project. On the study tour, I was able to visit the Alternative Energy Promotion Center and villages. I learned that electricity not only brings improvements to people’s lives but can also remedy problems related to education, hygiene, and gender. The visit served as a reminder of the blessings of electricity, and brought home to me the vital need to ensure the wider use of renewable energy. I am extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity to visit Nepal, which has strengthened my determination to contribute to the development of photovoltaic cells.

Presentation by Energy Problems group

Nepalese Cultural Traditions and Gender Issues
During our time in Nepal, as well as carrying out interviews with representatives of Japanese organizations engaged in aid activities like JICA Nepal and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I was also able to visit a university hospital and villages, and hear about problems people there are facing and how they think about gender problems. The interviews and visits I made were all meaningful and productive. As outsiders, workers at JICA and other aid organizations are reluctant to intervene directly by criticizing the culture and customs that remain deeply embedded in Nepal. Instead, they prefer to have an indirect support by improving infrastructure and encouraging women to play a greater role in society. One of the things that impressed me during the tour was the impact that infrastructure can have in terms of solving these problems.
The study tour helped me think more deeply about these issues, and the knowledge I gained through the experience will be essential for my future studies.

Presentation by Education and Healthcare group

Education and healthcare in Nepal
During my time in Nepal, I visited a hospital, school, and an organization working to support education. These experiences made me realize the gaps between what I had learned in advance and the true situation on the ground, and made me realize that many things can only be understood when I visit a place for myself. In terms of medical care, I understood that “hygiene issues” is a term that has a much deeper significance than I had realized. I was impressed by the conversations I had with students and teachers during my visit to a local high school, and by their keen awareness of the issues. Nepal has recently introduced a new insurance system, and improvements are being made to the education and health systems. But the “brain drain” is a serious problem that does not attract much attention, and little is being done to improve this, I felt. I got the impression that the intentions of the various countries involved in aid sometimes differ from the wishes and intentions of people in Nepal itself. These differences of understanding, as well as systems and facilities, are areas where there is room for improvement.

Thinking about women’s rights in Nepal
Progressive activities on gender are underway in urban regions of Nepal today. But on the other hand, I didn't feel any strong difference between the rights of men and women in the farming villages we visited. Increasing numbers of migrant workers and better infrastructure provision may lead to more frequent encounters with Western gender norms, and this may tend to raise awareness of gender problems. I felt it was important that those of us providing aid do not merely to do so in a unidirectional manner, just pointing out problems, but instead help to support what Nepalese people themselves want, and cooperate by helping them to imagine their own future. In post-earthquake recovery, education, and economic development, the signpost on the road to development should be set up not only by those providing aid but through changes in Nepalese people’s understanding of the issues they face. The presentation event at the Kiinsai festival was an ideal opportunity to present a summary of everything I had learned in the preliminary studies, what I felt and learned while in Nepal, and the subsequent studies I have done to follow up my own interests.

Although the Kiinsai presentations may mark the end of class program, all those who took part will surely continue to think about the challenges of a “Convivial Global Society” for many years to come. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the many people who attended and everyone who asked questions.

(Mai Mitadera, Rin Gamada, Haruka Adachi, Yumeno Higo)

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