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Nepal trip affirms connections A Nepalese policeman walks among the rubble of the destroyed Narayan Hindu Temple in Kathmandu on May 21 after multiple earthquakes struck the Himalayan nation. Kathmandu, Nepal! The Valley of the Gods! Buddhist monasteries, Hindu shrines, World Heritage Sites. How could it not be a life transforming experience? And so it would be. I was going with students in the Embodying Diversity: Religions of South Asia class through Marlboro College. I was going with one colleague who had lived in Kathmandu for over a year, and with another who studied religion. I knew I would learn more in the two week spring break trip than most of us are lucky to learn in units measured by years. And indeed I did. As for me, my discipline is politics and my field of specialization is international studies at Marlboro. In specific, I study development. I think about tourism and foreign aid as it affects developing countries. I teach about civil wars, constitutions, federalism and democracy. And to boot, World Heritage Sites have been part of the ongoing conversation in my International Law and Organization class I was currently teaching. Everything about Nepal was going to broaden and enrich my worldview, inform and deepen my curriculum, and offer me another case study with which to think comparatively as well as globally. The whole undertaking was not only right down my alley, but epitomizes why I teach and what Marlboro College is all about. "Developing a global perspective" is in our mission statement, and the two major funding sources for the trip, The Gannett Learning Initiative and the Aron Grant, are particularly and exactly oriented to furthering the classroom experience and allowing for and promoting hands on, intensive educational opportunities between students and faculty, both at home and abroad. Our experience in Nepal was all that and more. We all learned so much while having the time of our lives. I left Nepal March 31 so full, so sated, so impacted by my experience in the country. Less than three weeks later, a devastating earthquake shook that country. I could not believe my eyes as I began to see images from the very places we had stood such a short time ago. Durbar Square 90 percent ruined. Baktapur 90 percent ruined. And this was nothing compared to the toll in human life and human suffering. The loss of life will never be fully known, of that I am sure, given the remoteness of the villages that lay in such ruin and the amount of rubble that is everywhere. The photos I had taken were now of historic significance. It has been beyond sad and upsetting. The sense of helplessness, the cruelty of nature, the tragic fate that faces those who are left those whom we walked among and some who we met and now feel we know. In some ways, I feel fractured, broken. The pain is deep, even from so far away, even though it is not my life and my country, even though it is not my house or my family. But in the end, this is the very point. This is why we go. The rest of the world is, actually, part of our world. However far away other countries may be (and believe me in this case in particular it seemed very far away!) and however foreign other cultures may seem, once you travel there, once you attempt to talk to and communicate with other peoples so different from yourself, you soon realize they are part of our own humanity and we can relate to their lives. They are not so exotic that they remain strange, and they are not so distinct that they cannot be understood. The distance is only in miles, not in spirit. And the "other" becomes part of ourselves.