Nepal Cultural Exchange
“It is spiritually and ethically unacceptable that millions of people in our world don’t have sufficient nutrition, clean water, housing, basic health or education. This reality can and must be changed.” This is the mission of the Israeli organization Tevel B’Tzedek, our partner in this program. Both in Israel and during a two week trip to Nepal you will learn the importance of the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, through first hand experiences and inspiring learning. The Nepal Cultural Exchange add-on will be an educational experience, teaching you about globalization, other cultures, what life is like for over 2 billion people in the world who live near or below the poverty line. It will also provide you with an opportunity to make a small but significant difference in the lives of the families and villagers you will stay with. This is not a trip for the faint of heart, but those who are committed to the mission and don’t mind “roughing it” in order to have a meaningful experience.
The living conditions while in Nepal will be authentic and the cultural exchange that will take place will leave you affected for a lifetime.
When: Spring Semester, students in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem may participate. There will be monthly meetings prior to and after the trip to Nepal. Program Features: There will be monthly seminars in preparation for the trip to Nepal to learn about globalization, poverty, social justice, and human rights. We’ll also explore the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam and visit with organizations in Israel actively working in these fields. In addition, we will have practical sessions about life in Nepal. The two week trip to Nepal will include:
- Orientation Seminar in Katmandu – While staying in the Tevel B’Tzedek house with other volunteers, we will learn about Nepalese culture, language, and begin to understand the realities of life in the villages and how we can help. In addition, we will tour some of the major sites in Katmandu, meet the Israeli Ambassador (dependent upon his schedule), celebrate Shabbat with Israeli volunteers in Nepal, and engage in learning through Jewish texts and other sources.
- Home Stay in a Nepalese Village – For five days, you will live with a Nepalese family in their home in a remote rural village. You will work alongside your hosts and other volunteers doing farming, building, teaching, cooking, or other useful tasks. Your living conditions during this portion of the trip are authentic and basic as you’ll be “living like a local.” Houses are made of mud bricks with earthen floors. Beds are a simple wooden frame with a thin mattress and meals are simple. Squat toilets are located in small outhouses in the yard and there is no electricity, heating or running water. The shower is either a cold bucket or a dip in the river. Although the conditions may be challenging for you, you will gain a deeper understanding of the realities of Nepal and an appreciation for the opportunities and advantages you have.
- Pokhara – We will spend Shabbat relaxing in the comfort of a tourist lodge in the city of lakes, Pokhara, and enjoying the scenic beauty.
- Trek in the Himalayas – The Nepalese Himalayas is one of the world’s greatest trekking destinations with its stunning peaks, vibrant culture, and epic mountain adventures. For 3-4 days you will hike, take in the spectacular views, and enjoy this natural beauty.
Back in Israel, you will participate in a closing seminar to debrief and summarize the experience abroad. During this seminar, you will be challenged to consider what steps you may take next to apply the lessons you learned in Nepal and to share your experiences with others. Additional Details: Kosher food will be made available upon request (strictly vegetarian prepared with kosher equipment – no kashrut certification is available.) Cell phone service with data is available in all sites visited in Nepal. Students will be required to purchase a local SIM card for their phones for a minimal cost. Solar electricity is available in the village to recharge cell phones.