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Nepal Study Tour Report 2019


From August 25 to September 1, 2019, eight undergraduate students and two faculty members took part in an eight-day study tour to Nepal as part of the Practicum for Convivial Global Society and Seminar of Global Studies I.
Before the tour, students took part in six sessions on subjects including Nepalese history; Nepalese ethnic groups, religion, and society; gender issues in Nepal; and the socioeconomic impact of renewable energy in Nepal, learning about Nepal through reading and discussion. Students also selected their own research topics based on these preliminary studies and literature searches, preparing research projects.

Visiting a school

In Nepal, our group visited three places in the vicinity of the capital Kathmandu. First, we heard from a gender expert and enjoyed a meal together with Ochanomizu University alumni, then we visited the Embassy of Japan in Nepal, the offices of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Nepal, the headquarters of the Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC), and the NGO Sarthak Shiksha to learn about their work and the current situation in Nepal, deepening our understanding of Nepal from a whole range of perspectives. Next, we visited a public school, whose buildings were constructed by JICA’s cooperation, observed activities at the Sarthak school, and visited AEPC project sites in the Ramechhap and Kavrepalanchok districts, which are rural village areas, seeing first-hand how people live. At the Asian Institute of Technology and Management (AITM), we and AITM students from the same year as us each gave a presentation and then had an opportunity to talk, enabling us to hear about the current situation in Nepal from a young person’s perspective.

There are currently many children in Kathmandu who are being educated with a view to going on to university. By contrast, rural villages apparently offer no classes above junior high school so children need to leave their villages and go to Kathmandu to get an education. We were told that many of the students at the public school with JICA’s cooperation we visited are from poor families whom they have left behind in the countryside to go and live in wealthy households where they work morning and night and attend school during the day. The heads of the households in which they are working are not always good people, and we even heard about a case where one student was packed back home just because he had broken a cup while he was helping. One of the students to whom we talked said that because there was only an elementary school in their village, most of the children from the village had come to Kathmandu to study. We learned that even now when many children and their parents and communities recognize the importance of receiving an education, an education gap has been still existing between urban and rural areas.

Group photo with locals at a project area

In the two villages where AEPC is operating, we were shown around solar power generation, biogas, and small-scale hydro power generation project sites as well as the homes of beneficiaries of these projects. We saw how the solar power is being used to bring water up from the river, with the water going from the tank through pipes and coming out of taps in individual houses. We also found out that a women’s association is responsible for operating and maintaining the solar power generation facility, from which we understood that women have established a certain degree of status in society. We were told that in both villages, the availability of energy has increased the amount of time that locals can spend on things other than housework, with children too now able to study for long hours. We even heard about cases where people are now managing to make a cash income as a result. Clearly, wider access to energy doesn’t just raise standards of living as a result of using electricity, but is also helping with issues such as the gender gap and economic disparities.

Each day of the study tour was jam-packed with new learning and impressive experiences. Seeing first-hand both urban and rural lifestyles and talking to locals from different walks of life was a very valuable experience that enabled us to learn so much that we couldn’t have discovered just from classroom study and literature searches. In addition, the constant sharing of opinions with other members of the group provided me with insights from people with different views from mine. I am very grateful to have been blessed with such a priceless opportunity and look forward to making use of the experience gained and what I felt through the study tour in my future study.

(Rinka Imanishi, 1st year student,
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Human Life and Environmental Sciences)

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