Riding the wave

By on March 13, 2013

By: Laurel Etter Special to the Record Express, Staff Writer

Laurel holds a goat from her host family's farm and wears a dress made for her by a girl in the village.

Some advice I was given before coming to Nepal was to "ride the wave." I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, but now I do. Don’t try to make sense of things because a lot of times it doesn’t make sense — but that’s what works for Nepal. Just accept how things are and go with it.

Nepal might be "poor" in comparison to places with an income generating economy. But I don’t think most Nepalis view themselves this way. There might be no structured or supporting government, or even a constitution for that matter. There might be frequent power outages, lack of employment opportunities, and harsh living conditions. But I haven’t heard anyone complaining of these things. There is always a way to make it work, and they do.

In a conversation I had with a Nepali he was telling me about the current government situation and how nothing seems to be working. He laughed as he said, "our country is run by God, not the government. Somehow we find ways to make a living and continue to live happily."

I see this in Archale. With a kind of ‘anything goes’ attitude it would make sense for there to be a lot of chaos and disagreements, but there isn’t. Instead, people accept reality and do what needs to get done. It is as much an every-man-for-himself lifestyle as it is a communal one. There is no pressure to be the best or make it to the top; they simply just want to be.

Sometimes new ideas foster fear — why change something if it is working now, right? I would expect there to be apprehension towards new things. Once we are able to open minds up a little, a snowball effect takes place. People start telling other people, and believe me, news here spreads fast. Soon people become more and curious about why we would try this ‘something new.’ We have encountered a lot of positive feedback to our ideas.

There is a common misconception that we, Saprinu, or Westerners in general have all the answers. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. They are the ones who know the land, the people, culture, environment, and how things work. To me, the ultimate goal is to open their minds up to creative and critical thinking. Show them that the sky truly is the limit. Only then can they use those skills to create their own flourishing community as they see it.

Laurel Etter, a Warwick High School grad, is spending three months in Archale, Nepal under the auspices of Saprinu, an organization dedicated to creating long lasting, sustainable communities. She’ll be sharing her ongoing adventures with Record Express readers. More updates and photos from Laurel’s Nepal trip can be found at Saprinu.org. "There is basic human wisdom that can help save the world’s problems. This wisdom does not belong to any one culture or religion, nor does it come from the West or East. Rather it is a tradition of human warriorship that has existed in many cultures at many times throughout history."

Chogyam Trungpa More NEPAL, page A16

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