Over the last month of exploring and living in Nepal I have been exposed to one of the most interesting and diverse cultures I have ever experienced. The Kathmandu Valley in particular offers an amazing opportunity to learn about the different cultures and religions that make up Nepal, with cultural festivities happening almost every week. I have also been introduced to the social, political and economic issues within the country as they are hot topics in office conversation. Everyday life in Kathmandu is exciting as I am constantly exposed to new things that you would not often see in Western culture. For example, there are cows, goats and chickens that freely roam and sleep in the streets as locals go about their daily lives in the hectic city of Kathmandu.
While I am here, I am working with Fair Trade Group Nepal (FTG Nepal) as a Communications and Public Awareness Intern. FTG Nepal is an association of 19 member organizations, and works to promote the advancement of the socio-economic status of marginalized producers working in handicraft, agro-food and non-timber forestry products across the country. My role as a communications and public awareness intern is to raise awareness on the social and environmental impact of fair trade. To do this I have been working on brochures and developing FTG Nepal’s social networks, but my main task is to produce a publication that highlights the social impact of Fair Trade in Nepal through producer stories. This means that I have the opportunity to go out into the field and meet Nepalese producers who come from all walks of life. I gather their stories, talking to them about how they got to where they are today, the challenges and hardships they have faced and how working for a Fair Trade organization has helped them succeed. Through interviewing the producers I am not only able to learn more about the impact of Fair Trade, but delve deeper into the social and cultural norms of Nepal, as well as the economic and social issues that affect the everyday lives of Nepalis.
In my free time, I am taking advantage of all the sights and sounds that Nepal has to offer, which has been nothing short of exciting! Thus far I have gone a number of different hikes, attended cultural and religious events and explored the many neighbourhoods that make up the Kathmandu Valley. The summer weather is hot with occasional rains that are occurring more and more often as the monsoon season approaches.