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Nepal Study Tour Report


On September 20–27, 2016, 11 students ranging from first-year undergraduates to second-year master’s students joined two lecturers on an eight-day study tour to Nepal. In preparatory classes before our departure, three lecturers taught us basic facts about Nepal and outlined the current state of the country, issues it faces, and earthquake reconstruction efforts. Students also set their own individual research topics and examined the available literature, etc., in preparation for conducting on-site research in three groups: Poverty and Economic Disparity, Education, and Support for Post-earthquake Reconstruction

Visit to a JICA earthquake reconstruction project

Our stay in Nepal centered on the capital, Kathmandu, where we visited the Japanese Embassy, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Nepal Office, UNICEF’s Nepal office, two Durbar Squares, the office of Sarthak Shiksa (a children’s reading support NGO), schools, and Tribhuvan University. A tour of disaster-affected areas led by JICA staff took us to Lalitpur District outside Kathmandu and Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital, and we went to the mountainous Kavre District on a visit to a project implemented by the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC).

On April 25, 2015, Nepal was struck by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, killing more than 8,000 people and destroying over 700,000 houses. Although post-earthquake reconstruction is a pressing issue, the Nepalese government is not in a position to embark on its own reconstruction efforts, partly due to the effects of political turmoil. We heard details of assistance Japan is providing on the ground in Nepal, including support for earthquake reconstruction. Listening to these descriptions, I felt that Japan’s assistance is essential in the fields of education and the economy (including infrastructure-building), but I also perceived the importance of providing not only support, but also direction so that the government and people of Nepal can positively engage in their own development initiatives.

Visit to AEPC project in Kavre District

I was also troubled to discover that power cuts are frequent, unboiled water is not safe to drink, and water shortages create low water pressure that makes toilets difficult to flush. When you learn about developing countries, you always hear that inadequate infrastructure is an issue, but actually experiencing the uncertainties of that life for myself made me think that building infrastructure for everyday life is the first requirement for development in such countries.

The tour itinerary was a very full one, and in the limited time available to us over the eight days we visited many facilities and organizations. Part of the program was conducted solely in English, and interacting with local people and hotel staff provided valuable language practice. Above all, the tour gave us unparalleled first-hand experience of life in a developing country and issues relating to international cooperation and development assistance, topics that you can’t get a real feel for solely by studying them in Japan. The personal encounters, feelings, and realizations that resulted from mixing with people from another culture will help all of us enormously in our future endeavors.

(Arisa Minami, 2nd year student, Japanese Language and Literature Course,
Department of Languages and Culture, Faculty of Letters and Education)

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