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cultural exchange

Testimony of an inspired traveller

Testimony of an inspired traveller

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Time in Nepal

On a recent trip to Nepal I had one experience that really stands out. It wasn’t the hectic streets of Kathmandu or the green hills of the valley - as amazing as they are. It was taking part in a cooking class at the Seven Women centre, organised through Urban Adventures.

Arriving at the Seven Women centre I was greeted by so many smiling faces and made to feel so welcome by the women working and visiting. Heading into the bustling cooking school, I was quickly put to work grinding, chopping, stirring and frying alongside other travellers. The room quickly filled with delicious smells and people’s laughter as we were shown by the women how to cook easy and tasty traditional Nepalese meals. Their skill (and patience) ensured the meals we prepared were a success and ready to share for lunch.

Over our lunch we had the privilege to hear personal stories from the women. What they have been able to achieve in the face of adversity and how passionate they are about empowering their communities was truly inspiring. Their faces lit up as we cheered and clapped upon hearing about their engagements, graduating high school and overcoming obstacles.

Returning home

After my time at Seven Women I knew I wanted to do more and become a part of the movement. When I arrived home to Australia the first thing I did was reach out via email asking what I could do to help. I was blown away to hear from Steph Woollard herself and to have the opportunity to meet with her in Melbourne. Her enthusiasm and optimism were contagious and we quickly discussed a plan on how to bring the story of Seven Women into workplaces this Christmas. 

I am now organising for my workplace to have Steph come and speak in the lead up to Christmas and have a stall selling Seven Women scarves. Getting the story of Seven Women shared with as many people as possible will ensure the amazing work they do can continue to grow. I encourage everyone to get their workplace involved by taking part in the Christmas Fundraising Drive.

If you are heading to Nepal make sure you make the time to visit Seven Women. It will be a highlight that will stay with you long after you leave

Written by Emily Lyons

How travel broadens the mind

How travel broadens the mind

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Travel, especially if done properly, is perhaps unique in its ability to expand one’s perspective, which so often become closed because of our routinised lives. Rather than sitting by the hotel pool, sustainable travel — with its emphasis on genuine cultural exchange and meaningful interaction — is the best means of enriching our minds.

Discarding our cultural lenses

The testimonies of the participants who went on our recent Hands On Development tour to Nepal, provide first-hand evidence of how travel broadens the mind. One participant, Vanessa Moskal, described how the trip had the effect of making her aware of her own ‘cultural lenses.’

In the West, it is often too easy to forget that there are other value systems and ways of looking at the world, which we can also apply to our own lives. A key inisight that emerged for the participants was that happiness does not always come from material wealth. Rather, it comes from the people who are in our lives. Undoubtedly, in such a competitive, career-minded society as Australia, this is a lesson which we can all take on board.

In a classic example of how travel is a force for peace, participants described how the language barrier was not an obstacle to experiencing human connection at the ‘fundamental level.’ If travel is done so as to emphasis cross-cultural interaction, as the global middle class rises, travel can create a groundswell of momentum for peace.

How we can all make a difference

Another key takeaway from the trip was that it is possible for every person to make a difference. After seeing the work of Seven Women and various other partner organisations in Kathmandu, the participants realised that goals as seemingly unattainable as women’s empowerment in a traditionally patriarchal society, are actually achievable if we all pitch-in.

Yet, as Sue Gammon attested too, this realisation was only made possible through embarking on a sustainable tourism tour. In her words, if you are interested in finding out ‘what you can do to help’ and ‘what [truly] goes on in a country’, then this ‘is the type of tour for you.’

With the right type of travel experience, we can broaden our minds like never before.