Nepal ICS

The illusion of choice

20th March 2017

In rural communities of Nepal, options are few and limited, and it is easy to pass judgement on the simplicity of the people existent. But, how many chances do we miss? How many opportunities do we pass up? And how quickly do we judge others for settling, whilst failing to take the leap of faith into courage ourselves? Midway through the project, UK team leader for November Charlie 1, Sophia, takes time to reflect on the nature of choices and opportunities.

“How do they cope?”, we ask.

The community we are in, are so limited in choice. The quest of livelihood diversification has elucidated the simplicity of the lives which exist here; the repeating patterns of daily chores – early morning food preparation, the grinding of corn, afternoon animal tending, tea with a neighbour; the replication of methods of agriculture – the same crops are grown across the community as they have done for decades, the same products are produced from these harvests season after season; and the similarity of ideas – most people here rear livestock in small numbers, producing the same mixture of feed, performing the same routines of care and husbandry, which are then producing similar, if not identical, results.

When our meals are prepared, they can be measured by difference, not similarity – the differences being so slight and noticeable. The conversations between friends and foes repeat the patterns of conversation and topic –  my host aama has a language to communicate with me, the repeated patterns of words and intonation easing the translation between us. The ceremonies, both cultural and community led, all have the same structure of eating and dancing, the delicacies the same for each event. Some people make the most of their limited choice and, as with any society, others do not.

A local woman makes roti

As a UK volunteer, it is so plain to me, sitting outside of someone’s culture, to see how few choices they have, and how few they take. However, how about us? We are people who have thousands of choices. We can choose the sort of person we want to be, the type of job we wish to pursue, the friends we have, how we spend our time, and what we eat. Yet, day after day, and week after week, we make the same safe choices. Venturing to the same supermarket to buy the same products which we did the week past. We spend our weekends with the same people having the same conversations. We stay in the same job, fearing failure should we push too hard toward what we desire. We repeat the same behaviours, expecting the outcomes to change and are always amazed and surprised when they don’t.

What is worse then, making the same choice because that is all you have, or making the same choice because you are too afraid to try the rest? In the face of a plethora of new beginnings and experiences which await us, we are paralysed by fear. Raleigh Nepal’s International Citzens Service (ICS) is a place to start truly seeing who we are, and fulfilling our potential as global citizens. If we expend the same energy we exert judging others to assess and grow ourselves, perhaps we can be the change we wish to see. One individual at a time. And it starts with Me.

Written by UK team leader, Sophia (November Charlie 1)

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