Students depart by minibus from URI campus and shuttle to JFK to board their international flight with connection through Delhi India, arriving in Kathmandu, the capital and the urban hub of Nepal. Kathmandu and the nearby surrounding valley area is rich with World Heritage sites and ancient shrines and temples that attract visitors from around the world.
After arrival orientation and acclimatization in Kathmandu, students travel for a day of exploring Bhaktapur and the nearby Kathmandu Valley enjoying the night in Dhulikhel. The next day, we travel a short distance eastward to Nagarkot, a historical mountain station community at 10,000 feet with amazing views of the distant Himalaya mountains. Sunrise mountain views are some of the best in Nepal! Nagarkot is the site for the 3-day International Kingian Nonviolence Training facilitated by URI Center faculty and trainers. This program is a collaboration between URI and Tribhuvan University’s CPDS, Conflict, Peace, and Development Studies Program, in partnership with two of the most respected peace promoting human rights NGOs in Nepal, COCAP – the Collective Campaign for Peace, and SWD – Social Work for Development. Notable guests at the training will include human rights activists and peace advocates of Nepal.
Surrounded by the natural beauty of Nagarkot for three days, URI students participate in a joint peace and nonviolence training program side by side with Nepalese university students, human rights workers, community volunteers, and NGO staff members, all studying conflict reconciliation and positive peace-building methods. The training program is conducted by the URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies faculty, assisted by several URI students who have been certified as nonviolence co-trainers through the Center. Nepalesei students from Tibhuvan University majoring in peace and conflict studies also participate in this joint program. URI students interacte with fellow Nepali trainees while learning about how current political and cultural conflicts in Nepal can be and are being resolved using nonviolence principles and practices. Together they share this intensive traiing experience learning the principles, strategies, and practical methodologies of Kingian Nonviolence within the socio-political context of post-conflict Nepal. The Center’s training course in Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation serves as the basic curriculum. Last year, Krishna Pahadi, Nepal’s leading human rights spokesperson, promoting civil society formation and transitional justice was in attendance to speak and facilitate dialogue and discussion. The schedule will allow for time to become familiar with the local environment and culture of Nagarkot. Time is reserved for cultural and educational excursions to enhance and supplement academic learning and interpersonal development, as well as provide views of the impressive natural geological wonders of the backdrop of the famous Himalayan mountain range nearby.
After the conlcusion of the training program, the URI group will travel from Nagarkot westward past Kathmandu and then south-westward to to the Chitwan National Park and Wildlife Refuge, the oldest national park in Nepal, situated in the subtropical inner Terai lowlands of South-Central Nepal. The park, which covers a pristine area with a unique ecosystem of significant value to the world, was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1984. It provided a perfect setting in which to learn about the issues of conservation ecology and environmental sustainability facing Nepal.
The park is actively engaged in the scientific studies of several species of wild fauna and flora. There are more than 43 species of mammals in the park, which is especially renowned for the endangered one-horned rhinoceros, tiger, and the gharial crocodile along with many other common species such as gaur, wild elephant, four-horned antelope, striped hyena, pangolin, Gangetic dolphin, monitor lizard, and python. There are over 450 species of birds in the park. Among the endangered birds are the Bengal florican, giant hombill, lesser florican, black stork, and white stork. Common birds seen in the park include the peafowl, red jungle fowl, and different species of egrets, herons, kingfishers, flycatchers, and woodpeckers. One of the best times for bird watching is during March!
After an early breakfast and departure from Chitwan, we enjoy a scenic drive through central Nepal arriving back in Kathmandu for the final two days/nights. Students will experience cultural and spiritual learning opportunities at several of the world’s holiest and most revered ancient temples and shrines. Swayambhunath and Bodhnath are recognized as some of themost sacred sites in the Hindu and Buddhist faith traditions. Completing this international nonviolence travel experience, students will also visit two highly recognized accomplishments and compassionate work with the CNN Heroes Awards for 2010 and 2012. social uplifting programs. Schedules are being arranged to visit with Anurada Koirala, founder and Director of Maiti Nepal, the well-known Nepal program that rescues and rehabilitates women and children who have been victims of sex trafficking and educates the public to prevent such violent criminal activities from re-occurring. Also students will visit Pushpa Basnet at her Early Childhood Development Center and learn of her work establishing a home for young children who without other options were forced to live in prisons with their convicted parents. Finally a visit to the Tibetan Refugee Center will provide firsthand interactions with Tibetans who were forced to flee Chinese oppression, risking their lives to journey across the dangerous high Himalayan escape route. This final component of the program introduces students to the complex modern challenges facing Nepal as it emerges from a period of internal conflict and strives to re-establish itself as a civil society, positioned between India and China. After a final relaxing morning for packing and souvenir shopping the group transitions to the Tribhuvan Airport to bid a final “Namaste” to Kathmandu and Nepal. Connecting through Delhi, our return flight arrives at JFK early Monday morning, meeting our minibus for the final leg of our journey back to URI.
DAY 1 – THURSDAY- Depart URI – JFK to Delhi and Kathmandu
Day 2 - FRIDAY – Arrive Kathmandu (10pm)
DAY 3 – SATURDAY – Bhaktapur, arrive Dhulikhel
DAY 4 – SUNDAY – Nagarkot
DAY 5 – MONDAY – Nagarkot (nonviolence training)
DAY 6 – TUESDAY – Nagarkot (nonviolence training)
DAY 7 – WEDNESDAY – Nagarkot (nonviolence training), depart/arrive Chitwan
DAY 8 – THURSDAY – Chitwan – National Park & Wildlife Refuge excursions
DAY 9 – FRIDAY – depart Chitwan / arrive Kathmandu – shrine visits
DAY 10 – SATURDAY - Kathmandu - Pushpa Basnet, Maiti Nepal, Tibetan Refugees
DAY 11 - SUNDAY-Departure from Kathmandu 3:45pm, connection in Delhi 1:45am departureDAY 12 – MONDAY- arrive 6am JFK – minibus return to URI
The nonviolence and peace training in Nepal program is consistent with and highly supportive of the cross-cutting theme of Global Awareness and Global Changearticulated in the future academic priorities of the strategic plan of the University of Rhode Island. This international study and training program is a model example of an applied experiential educational opportunity for students to develop both knowledge and skills at the intersection of global change and social responsibility, as well as encouraging students to exhibit “liberal learning and scholarship”. Training in nonviolence, especially abroad where diversity and cross-cultural complexity can be experienced and celebrated, is an opportunity to becomemulticulturally competent leaders and contributing world citizens. Following this program, instead of simply describing global problems, URI students will be better equipped to lead in the design of global solutions.