Kingston RI, March 25th, 2015 – The Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies led students to Nepal for their fifth annual Alternative Spring Break program. Students engaged in international nonviolence and peace training, and were introduced to cultural, spiritual, and social dimensions of Nepal.
The trip began in the ancient city of Bhaktapur where students climbed to the top of the 5-Story Temple and enjoyed a 360 view of the city flanked by mountains. They visited shops where hand-hammered singing bowls were made, a handmade paper factory, and the Thanka Painting School where the amazing mendalas are painted with such detail, often with fine brushes with only one or two hairs.
While staying in the Nagarkot, students had a breathtaking view of the spectacular Himalayan Mountains. They participated in a 2 ½ day International Kingian Nonviolence Training program alongside Nepali graduate students from Tribuvan University in Kathmandu, NGOs and peace activists. One of the URI students, senior Sarah Moffit, found that the training provided strategies to combat violence in an active, non-passive way.
“[The training] is successful in achieving the results you want,” Moffit said. “It’s a lot about directing and making sure that all of your forces are united in order to get the end goal that you want. It’s also focused on empathy and understanding where the other party is coming from … to figure out how you can overcome the barriers to get the help that you need.”
While traveling to different regions, one sightseeing location included Chitwan National Park where they took a river ride in hand dug-out canoes, and rode elephants through the jungle. Students observed many bird and mammal species that are native to the Terai lowlands. The unique ecosystem provided a setting to learn about conservation ecology and environmental sustainability. Matthew Reinhardt, a student of Environmental Management, was inspired to go on the trip due to his concerns with the environmental state of Nepal.
“[Nepal] has been affected by factors such as deforestation and land degradation, as well as water pollution,” Reinhardt said. “I am particularly interested in discovering how such environmental concerns are currently being addressed and what further action may be implemented in order to mitigate future destruction.”
The final days of the trip were spent visiting sacred temples and stupas in the Khatmandu Valley. An afternoon was dedicated to the Early Childhood Development Center, established by 2012 CNN Hero winner, Pushpa Basnet. The Center has rescued approximately 50 children who would otherwise be forced to live in prisons with their convicted parents. For many URI students, interacting with these amazing children was the high point of the trip.
For Moffit, the lessons that were learned throughout her experience are innumerable and she recommends that every student take advantage of this trip. “The embodiment of the meaning of word ‘Namaste’ is ‘the divine in me recognizes the divine in you’,” she said. “If you are working towards a common goal and you are actively searching for it then you can find the divine in anyone.”
About the Center
The Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies has a mission to institutionalize and internationalize nonviolence as a process to reduce human suffering and promote a global beloved community. The Center accomplishes its mission by engaging in education training, academic courses, outreach programs, and community events.
Kelly Tancredi, Public Relations Intern