General

It’s all about learning

Nepali project is a pilot case for the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) South Asia, which aims to raise awareness and the capacity of universities and students to understand better global development challenges. I want to emphasize the term “learning”, because that has been the most significant outcome what I have got from the project.

It has been a moment since we returned from the field trip and I’m still on my way to normal routines. The field trip was full of new experiences and interesting human contacts. At this point it’s hard to understand all the things I have actually learned during the field trip. However, I’m sure that the journey changed something in each of us permanently, and it will affect definitely how we act and think in the future situations.

Nepali team 2019 with some of the unique local children (© Carles Martínez 2019)

One thing I can already say I learned is new perspectives of human nature. People are basically the same, regardless the background and culture they come from. I learned this well while working with the local students of AITM. It was easy to start working with them and finding common understanding and like with most of the people, humor is a bridge towards friendship.

Communicating with the local people in Dhungentar also taught me how easy it is to express yourself with simple gestures, even if there is no common language. Smile and small hand signs already tell a lot and pretty often they were the only way to communicate with the local people if there wasn’t anyone to translate. However, I found many deep connections with local people, even though there wasn’t straight verbal communication between us.

Prithivi Jung with a local friend in Dhungentar (© Luis Alfonso Monje 2019)

Altogether the Sustainable Global Technologies (SGT) Studio course has given me many valuable things, such as team and project management skills, more self-confidence and design thinking. Also I have gained more understanding about the problems that developing countries are facing and learned how to be more creative in the situations where is no ready results available. The project has given me also more curiosity which makes me really happy, because it is the best way to keep learning and growing.

General

The group became a team

Although just upon the arrival in Kathmandu, the team has become one better, stronger and larger group by the full integration of the five students from the AITM, Asian Institute of Technology and Management whose have been contributing as the half necessary for making such a project. See the profiles of a real, cohesioned and unique multidisciplinary team of twelve students.

We have been working altogether since the very first moment. We believe that studying social cohesion, exploring the concept by practicing it, it’s been not only very helpful for the project but a remarkable memory for this outstanding group of individuals.

Multidisciplinarity has also brought some new meaning in what collaborations means. There is a small biography of every one in the team 2019 around this website and upcoming soon, our mentors that have been doing just a tremendous work in the field.

General

Dhungentar – from my perspective

Today was the third full day in Dhungentar. Outside it has been sunny and warm so far, the views are amazing and people extremely friendly. We are staying at the Multipurpose Community Hall, which was built just a few months ago by an NGO, and it has been perfect for our stay and hopefully it will be useful for the community in the future as well.

Views on our way to Dhungentar (©Carles Martínez Millana)

We arrived in Dhungentar, Nuwakot District, on Wednesday afternoon after a long drive from Kathmandu across beautiful serpentine roads and mountain scenery. Already the travel here was an experience in itself, and after our arrival to the village I have been constantly surprised by new things, encounters and learnings. Every day I feel there is something more I learn about the village and the people living here, but also about myself and teamwork.

I’m extremely happy about how I’ve gotten to know the other team members better, especially Richa, Sumit, Yug, Gyalbu and Prithivi who are studying in AITM, Kathmandu, and with whom I wasn’t able to familiarize as much as with the Aalto student team before the field trip. I feel our team works very well together and we have already become more friends than just team members.

Us upon arrival together with Social Mobilizers in front of the Multipurpose Community Hall
Carles Martínez Millana)

The most interesting part of our visit to Dhungentar so far has been the encounters with the locals. We have conducted interviews and had informal talks, which have given a lot of insights and perspective regarding our project topic. For me personally, it has been an immensely valuable learning to explore the way of life and worldviews of the people in Dhungentar and compare those to my own life.

Two men working at a field
Carles Martínez Millana)

Though there are many differences when comparing the life in Dhungentar, or even in Kathmandu, to my life in Espoo (Finland), it is important to remember that there are things that are shared among people universally. Unfortunately, I’m not able to communicate directly to most of the locals due to my lack of knowledge in Nepali, but I’ve learned that there are ways through which it is possible to connect even without a common language, like music, dancing and laughter.

Woman dancing at a local wedding
Carles Martínez Millana)

This trip has already given me a lot, new points of view and unforgettable memories. We will now continue with our interviews, gathering focus groups and preparing a photo exhibition. I’m sure my learnings and feelings of amazement and gratitude towards the reception we have gotten by the community will only grow stronger, and I hope we’ll be able to contribute positively to the community, as well.

Love, Anumaria

General

From Kathmandu to Dhungentar

As a team, we feel extremely excited not only for the achievement of finally making it here without any inconvenience, but most likely the very opposite, we’ve been welcomed as could have never asked for. Thus Nepal and its hectic capital was not only one important piece of the required analysis before piloting some ideas in Dhungentar village, but also priceless inspiration.

© Carles Martínez 2019
© Carles Martínez 2019

Getting the first grasp of the capital of Nepal, a country that has welcomed us in such a wonderful way, it’s been extremely inspiring, instructive and flavory too. Right upon arrival, the city of the temples did some immediate effects on the team coming from Finland and the project has taken some interesting directions for the purposes of exploring resilience in communities after disasters.

© Carles Martínez 2019

Fully committed to explore Nepal from within, Kathmandu has been a deposit of ideas, questions and also some answers. By being here, indeed, we can finally move forward as much as we could. The team of twelve team members, with 7 from Aalto University and the Asian Institute of Technology and Management are finally together. Resilience is one of the strongest concepts that we have been working on. Surprisingly, everything converged at the same word, but taking different paths. 

© Luis Alfonso Monje 2019

The Nepali Project 2019 has started when at Monday morning we all met at the AITM in Kathmandu, where everyone has shared their personal and common ideas, objectives, inputs, outputs, outcomes and possible impacts. 

© Carles Martínez 2019
© Luis Alfonso Monje 2019

While one group has taken over the concept of social cohesion as a macro, simple but yet complex idea, the team from our local students has been developing a project around entrepreneurship as a form of economical stabilizer. Both of them have a common ground, community resilience.

We have been working on Monday and a Tuesday, altogether and mixing the time with some interviews going on around Kathmandu. We have been trying to merge our objectives by ideating and critically thinking and trying some potential common scenarios.

Most definitely we have succeeded so far, presenting our process to the commission from the Asian Institute of Technology and Management and other partner universities from Nepal. The presentation went over some sustainable development goals, the situation in Dhungentar, a few ideas on entrepreneurship as a bridge for connecting people and some others on social cohesion as a frame that could involve, maybe, entrepreneurship as a practice.

The presentation went pretty well and very motivated to take a bus to Dhungentar on the next day. For the time being, we were looking forward to traveling to the Nuwakot District and put hands on in the field.

© Carles Martínez 2019
© Luis Alfonso Monje 2019

Finally the day has come and we departed from Kathmandu to the north, Nuwakot District, most precisely to our already beloved Dhungentar. Who could tell, but seems like we took about 4, maybe 5 hours to get there, while enjoying each other’s company with multiple and remarkable conversations taking place all around the bus. We shared some ‘pua’, from Nepal and also some ‘salmiaki’, from Finland. Everyone is finding their own place.

Actually, it took some time to get out of Kathmandu, but it didn’t take that long to get into Dhungentar. Upon arrival, the warmth, the people and the scenery said welcome at unison. It was and it is incredible, while we have divided in a few groups and just walk around, several insights were both touching the team in the academic level, as researchers and developers of the Nepali Project and also in the personal level. More walks to come, more moments to come.

© Luis Alfonso Monje 2019

After all, we made it and the first few hours, the first afternoon and the very first dinner together is going to stick with everybody for a long time. We prepared almost everything that was possible to prepare and left some room too for those unpredictabilities. Already happening, there was a wedding announcement yesterday and it’s taking place today and tomorrow. This changes slightly and dramatically our plans by from yesterday -once again-, meaning interview, dialogues, focus groups, photography and paths to go through.

© Luis Alfonso Monje 2019
© Luis Alfonso Monje 2019

The day will start and the energy is extremely high. We start the meeting with ‘chia’ (tea) and some overview of the upcoming day. The table gathers about 15 people not only from different countries, but different perspectives that offer priceless contributions every minute. We are leaving the first official morning meeting and ready to go.

the blog

From paper to reality: A summary of today

©Luis Alfonso Monje, Helsinki, 2019

The team for the Nepali Project 2019 has been working hard since the first 5 students had their first meeting in November 2018. After a while, these students from Aalto University, Finland received the news of 2 new members that will be complimenting the made in Finland team. By the end of January, the number increased to 12, with the new members from the Asian Institute of Technology and Management, Kathmandu. Today, there are only a few days left for getting together and working for specifics objectives and perhaps, building a common one for all of them, always focusing in the rural village of Dhungentar, Nepal.

There is room and potential to combine our scopes.

©Luis Alfonso Monje, Helsinki, 2019

Both angles taken by the teams are valid and extremely complimentary. In one hand, the team from the AITM arises at first sight from economical sustainability; while the direction chosen by the team from Aalto University is mostly seeing on the social sustainability sphere.

Nevertheless, they are both really open for working on common directions. Social uplifment through entrepreneurship and communal synergies seem just right in order to build major levels of disaster resilience.