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Photo by Scott Diekema, Nepal Semester.

Instructor Intro Yak from Shanti!

Namaste Everyone! (Greetings from Nepal!)

My name is Shanti Magar, one of your instructors from this Spring course. I am so delighted to work with you all this Spring and share the upcoming beautiful journey with you all! Let me introduce myself a bit – My name ‘Shanti’ perhaps some of you might have heard this word in meditation or prayer, in the Hindu tradition where you end the prayer by chanting the mantra “Om-Shanti-Shanti-Shanti” as an invocation of peace. Hindu traditions you chant shanti three times to represent peace in body, speech, and mind. Yes, that’s how I got my name! I was born and raised in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal which is a melting pot of many ethnic groups and people from various different backgrounds.

I started my journey with Dragons in 2013 as a program assistant for three years. During that time, I had the opportunity to explore my country with Dragons students for the very first time which now I feel very grateful for. I had never thought that the days I spent on the outskirts of Kathmandu valley would be the best days of my life and would teach me so much. Ever since then, I have fallen in love with my country and I have understood why so many people come to visit Nepal and meanwhile how much knowledge and wisdom it offers to people.

Now I have been working as a full instructor since 2017 and I am very excited to showcase to you how Nepal lives through its vernacular. Most tourists pass through expressions of the Nepali culture that depict monumental achievements – temple plazas, popular festivals, important sites, etc. But, there is more to learn from the vernacular – expressions of art, music, cuisine, and economy that hide in the subtleties of daily lives. You will live among the people, in villages and in cities, and experience their habits. You will endeavor to learn Nepali and break words with people who cannot help but smile at your humble beginnings. You will look wondrously at people who will be just as curious when you walk past them. Some people will come forward and address you; some people will sit back and wait for you to approach. Our friends, our hosts, contacts, and entire communities are still intact and warm. Their openness is still there, purer than ever. The desire to share is also still there and has not changed. Connecting in everyday life, in the market, in transportation, at the food stands. Wherever you can, there will always be someone who is willing to talk. We should not romanticize the idea that people will always be there to entertain us. However, there is nothing I appreciate more than the moment when those connections present themselves organically. I’m pretty sure you’ll find joy in connecting with people as well.

Regardless, you will experience not just the sights and the sounds of Nepal but also the emotions that are so freely expressed in this small country. My greatest passion with work and life itself is to be able to share and connect with the people we will meet along the way.

I am grateful to get the chance to meet each one of you and assist you on this journey that has the power to change lives and direction. I want to let you know how proud I am of you, that you dared yourself to get out of your comfort zone to embark on this adventure. There is really no way one could prepare for what this trip might bring but I suggest that you be open to whatever comes your way. Keeping in mind that it is only us that creates our own limits. The team of instructors- Me, Dave and Hemant–are here to assist you on your journey. Till then take care of yourself and see you soon!

With warm regards,