Eric Newell, November 2017
After several years of exchanging letters with my ANSWER student, Sayara, we were able to meet in person at the ANSWER office in Kathmandu October 2017. I brought along my school supply kit, as a gift to Sayara, I had used in recent years when returning to college. Going through the kit together with mechanical pencil, push stick eraser, and eraser shield turned out to be a good way for us to initially interact. I was impressed how quickly she caught on to these uses, including the six inch ruler etched in both inches and millimeters.
After we had located my home city of Grand Rapids, MI, and Kathmandu on the world map I brought, we decided to take an excursion to the nearby city of Patan to visit their Patan Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site. While exploring the museum, we were able to learn from each other how differently we have been living as Sayara explained how her family practices daily rituals of Hinduism while recognizing the influences Buddhism. What fun it was to have Sayara point to these ancient bronze and copper artifacts and explain how they represent some of her daily rites!
The memorable moments continued to occur as we walked through a shopping district on our way to the bus station. I explained to Sayara that I was hoping to replace a pair of old slippers, and asked her to negotiate slipper design and pricing with local shop keepers on my behalf. What a memorable experience to witness a young person gain confidence and express themselves over the span of a few hours! Thanks so much to the staff of ANSWER for giving us opportunities to make such wonderful memories as these. Life can be so good!