Namaste’! Greetings! Mingalaba! Sawadee Ka!
All languages to say “hello!” that I learned from the travels I went on this last year to SE Asia. I wanted to share with you the adventures of this past year, pictures, and all the love - it was an amazing life changing experience. It has been some time since I have shared a newsletter and life continues to bring new things – for us all… my new things were in different countries, expanding the outer and inner world. This is a message from the heart, so give yourself some time when you read this to day dream and go with me on these adventures, a nice relaxed kinda read. Nothing more than that 😊 I will share in a separate email soon what I am up to now, inspired from these travels. Enjoy the adventures!
- With love, Kachina Katrina*
First, let’s start with why I went, simply because I wanted to see other cultures, ways people lived, village life and explore how to be of service using my organizing skills volunteering where most needed. I was curious about the International community development realm and thinking about moving my career and life in that direction. I was ready for a change, so I saved my money to travel and see what else there is in the world. I chose SE Asian countries because I feel like the culture is much more gentle, from the heart and simple – and there is a lot to learn from these softer and slower ways of being. I was drawn to Nepal because there is still rebuilding efforts needed from the massive 2015 Earthquake, and there is something unique about this country – it is almost untouched by western influence in some villages and I wanted to see their authentic lifestyle. I chose to make a conscious life shift this past year to do more work in community organizing, my ultimate passion, and felt I could be of use internationally in developing countries. This was proved true, in Nepal my heart expanded and I felt home. I made many heart felt soulful connections with delightful people around the world, and found projects were my skills and passion were needed.
In Nepal I found the people to be heart centered and relished in relationship based culture, where they took tea breaks often and were very family orientated and hospitable. I love the sweet greeting of Namaste, meaning I see the Divine in you – it feels so good to be seen! I love how they relate to each other as brother and sister, even if there is no blood relation. I felt like I was part of the family with my newfound friends in Nepal!
Swayambhu Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal
Village Building with Chetana and The Relief Trust
In many ways I really felt like my journey began in Kathmandu and after weeks of exploring different projects, nonprofits and rebuilding efforts my heart was captured in an instant by Chetana, the Executive Director for the local Nepal nonprofit The Relief Trust, who focuses on supporting victims of trauma and serves to improve and strengthen the marginalized and vulnerable citizens in Nepal, providing psychosocial support, education, livelihood programs and developmental activities.
We discussed a village rebuilding project that needs support, as the school and houses were all destroyed during the 2015 earthquake and they have no money to rebuild – and these people desperately want/ need a community center they can house a school and women’s micro loan program in. Currently the youth have to walk 1.5 hours just to get to the nearest school in this region and risk losing an education as many of the youth get married off eary and have babies when they are still a teenager.
Chetana asked me to help lead a workshop on communication and emotional intelligence for her community, which delighted me to my core. We explored different personalities, communication and leadership styles, behaviors that surround decision making and how we can use all this to help make a difference in our communities. The workshop went so well that she then asked me if I wanted to teach this at the local University, called the Institute of Crises Management in Kathmandu, Nepal. So the next time I visit Nepal I will be a guest teacher! There were many aligned bodies of work Chetana and I discovered that I believe this will be a life long friendship through collaboration on projects we can support the development of community together in compassionate ways.
Volunteering At A Girls Shelter - Teaching Dance!
In Pokhara, Nepal I volunteered with girls in a shelter who have been abused by their families and community, their home was not safe, many escaped sex trafficking or were homeless, so they found refuge in a safe house with security. I would go and visit the girls and taught them dance – everything from Salsa and Zumba to hip hop, even a little breakdancing! And they taught me as well, Nepali dance and Indian – and they loved Bollywood, every time I came in they would be watching some Bollywood soap opera and sometimes act out the characters, it was silly. We would have so much fun dancing around, sharing new moves, clowning around and just letting loose!
One of the girls was 8 years old, she used to be homeless living on the streets – at 8 years old! – when she first showed up at the shelter she was wild, feral, angry and easily agitated… she didn’t play well or much with the other girls and did her own thing. It was hard to know what to do, however I and the other teachers would just shine a lot of love on her and give the space that she needed. A month later she was dancing around with us, I became her personal jungle gym 😊 where she blissfully tumbled around and had become friends with the other girls. It was a delight to see her experience joy again. It was so fun to see the girls explore and get the moves and clamor for attention as they showed me new things they were learning, making up their own dance moves and just having a place to be free and have fun while getting some well needed exercise! This shelter has now instituted a dance program that the other teachers lead, I left them with some dance moves and Zumba music for the good times to carry on. I’m glad we all had this experience together, I miss everyone there so much!! I look forward to visiting them again.
Farming & Food in Nepal
I also got into some farming in Nepal. It was really neat to learn some of their practices and use local tools. I dug up old crops, planted new ones, created paths and stairs between the many terraces made on the mountains on the land in Nepal. I played with kids and got them to help out on the land and enjoyed being in nature with beautiful views of the Himalayas.
The food and ways Nepali’s eat is another intriguing thing. They eat the same foods for just about every meal – Dal Baht. It is good and has many of the food groups in it, some even have said it is one of the best diets because it is macrobiotic. They give piles of rice, dal, takeri – which is usually curried potatoes (Alou) mixed with cauliflower, a green veggie, sautéed onions and garlic, and Saag – which is sautéed greens. There is also a pickled hot sauce to mix in. The Nepalies will mix bits of each item with the rice, mash together with their fingers and eat with their hands. It is so neat to see how they mix and mash the sauces and rice together… it’s like an art form. I’ve tried it a few times and really enjoy it, but can be hard because the heat of the rice and cooked foods is usually super hot to the touch…. But oh so tasty when you mix it up and eat with the fingers.
Trekking – I did manage to get in a short trek in the Himalayas. I found a sweet tour guide, Milan, with Adventure Tour Nepal who took me on a rout that was off the beaten path, through small villages connected by an age-old pathways of rock laid by indigenous people of Nepal. We started crossing the peaceful lake that surrounds Pokhara then hiked up to the Peace Pagoda where I met one of the coolest monks ever – who was chill’n hard, soaking in the rays as we looked out at the beautiful scene of the mountains and lake.
We stayed at a sweet village home stay with kids running around livening up the place sprinkled with delightful simple meals through the journey.
It was nice to get a taste of this multi generation’s family life that we stayed with and their daily routines. As they swept the door step, prepared meals and taking care of the chickens – I was amazed as the grandfather opened the door to a very small cage, about 2’ x 2’ and over 20 chickens came out! It was like a clown car, and endless array of chickens kept popping out, tripping and jumping over each other eating corn speckled out for their morning meal. My guide, Millan, was very sweet and went at a pace that was just right for me, as I twisted my ankle and only made it part of the way… so I have a full trek to look forward to when I go back to Nepal!
On the trek we had amazing discussions about the culture, domestic issues and in his local’s opinion what education is needed for these people, as there are some misguided traditions and inequalities between genders and the caste system. We came up with ideas and an educational plan for how he can help these villages he takes his treks through. A few weeks later I met an educational organization who works in his area, so I was able to connect him to a resource as well and spent time with him fleshing out his idea and action plan. We formed a friendship and created a trade, as he is a fitness trainer – so I learned some ways to stay in shape… which can be hard to find good ways to get exercise when traveling. If you are ever in Nepal and want a tour guide, check Milan Rai out of Adventure Tour Nepal, he speaks good English and will teach you Nepali as well… and you may find yourself a new friend 😊
Relaxation and Reflection
The entire travel made me slow down, reflect and just be. I enjoyed a slower pace, make changes and become a better person all around. I so often run run run from project to project that I don’t take as much time for myself or thoughtful, proactive approaches. However this was time for me to gestate, and what a wonderful place to do so. I feel so grateful for the time to be able to do this – for creating the space and time and being supported by friends and family to do so – making the conscious life choices and change, ahhh feels good and wholesome.
Where is Katrina Now?
This summer I came back to the states, where I spend most of my time in the Bay Area, Oakland, CA. I plan to go back to Nepal in Oct. This summer I furthered my training in dance and theater. I like to mix theater and dance – especially when working with youth to create skits about their life and messages to get across. I also taught theater at a summer camp sponsored by the Oregon Country Fair called Culture Jam, which is all about empowering teens through the arts. I love doing these activities and looking forward to doing more! Hit me up if you want me to lead a workshop, be a guest teacher, or need some help – I work with all ages!
I am always available to lead team building activities, workshops on leadership, empathy and communication anywhere around the world for all ages… all are important skills we need more of in this world and it is an honor and passion to share these tools to help make the world a more humane place. I will share more about a project I am involved in soon in Nepal – coming right up on my birthday! So stay tuned for that 😊
If you liked any of the pictures in this telling of tales please let me know, I learned that I have a bit of a photographer in me, I love capturing what I see in the travels, and I am going to start selling my photography. Follow me on Instagram and Facebook (I post more on FB). If you want more stories of my travels, check out my travel blog here - I share about Thailand and Myanmar: https://kachinakatrinastravels.wordpress.com/
Thanks for taking the time to read, join in the adventures with me and please stay in touch! Wishing you well and all that you need.