Over winter break, Kirkwood Community College was able to offer its first study abroad trip overseas in more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
A small caravan of two faculty and six students headed to the lustrous and culture-filled country of Nepal, braving COVID restrictions to travel abroad.
Led by David Keller, curriculum/assessment specialist, and Ken Nesbett, the Study Abroad coordinator, the trip lasted two weeks leaving the U.S. Dec. 30 and returning Jan. 15.
The trip focused on a few important things about Nepal, according to Keller: Adventure, service and culture. The group set out to experience it all in the short time they were there.
Kirkwood student Gabe Schmidt, who went on study abroad, enjoyed the two day trek to the Nagarkot hill top to get a great sight of the Himalayas. “It was nice to get out of the city and see the countryside and the mountains, so I would say that day hike was the most memorable for me,” Schmidt said.
Another Kirkwood student who went on the study abroad, Kira Johnson, an agriculture major, said she loved the service projects they did while in Nepal. She said specifically the Orchid Garden service project where they helped children at a day care in the city of Boudhanath. “Just seeing how their culture seemingly has so little compared to what we have in the U.S. but there is so much more joy, hope and happiness,” Johnson said.
According to trip leader David Keller there was plenty of culture to experience in Nepal. With 121 identified ethnicities and about as many languages there was so much to experience in Nepal.
The main part of culture in Nepal is religious attractions. With only 1% of the country being Christian and 90% of the population practicing Buddhism and Hinduism. The group stayed in a hotel only 10 feet away from a Hindu temple and visited many religious attractions around the country.
“Seeing the Hindu temples and the Buddhist stupas was certainly an experience that everyone will cherish and how different that is from Nepal to the U.S.,” Keller said.
Another important part of Nepalese culture is their food with classic dishes like Dal Bhat, Momo and many more. The guides for the trip brought the group to many tourist attractions including restaurants that made traditional Nepalese food.
“Our guides did a wonderful job taking us to experience the traditional culture and cuisine of Nepal. The food was certainly a key piece that everybody looked forward to trying, especially with all of the different cultures that Nepal has to offer,” Keller said.
With the Nepal trip under the department’s belt, Study Abroad Coordinator Ken Nesbett is looking forward to and is cautiously optimistic about the summer programs for Study Abroad.
“There is a lot that a traveler needs to do when considering traveling abroad right now, so that can add a little bit of stress,” Nesbett said.
According to Nesbett, the Global Learning Department had to cancel the Spring Break trip to Belize due to the Department of State’s travel advisory due to COVID-19 conditions in the country.
However the odds are looking to be in Kirkwood’s favor for the summer trips starting as early as May for the Germany trip. Nesbett said the department will keep an eye on travel advisories and warnings from the countries health department’s to gauge the ability to go on the trip.
Upcoming trips with extended application deadlines
- South Africa: Contextualizing social issues
- France: Origins of Photography
- Germany: Construction Management and Culture
- Ghana: Global Health
- Education Experience Ireland: Culture and Humanities
- Italy: Humanities and Literature, The Layers of Rome
- Mexico: Spanish Language and Humanities