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Experiencing and Teaching the Geography of Nepal

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PROGRAM DESCRIPTION AND GOALS

In summer 1997, thirteen elementary and secondary school teachers from Oregon participated in a month-long geography field program in Nepal. The “Teachers’ Workshop in Nepal” (TWIN Project), funded by the U.S. Department of Education, through Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad and by the Oregon Geographic Alliance (OGA), Portland State University (PSU), and the Himalayan Research Bulletin, was developed and implemented by faculty at PSU, Western Oregon University, and Cascade High School in Oregon. Its goal was to expand participants’ understanding and appreciation of other peoples and places while providing hands-on training in techniques of field research within geography. Group Projects Abroad are intended to broaden and strengthen international awareness and scholarship in liberal arts and humanities; a particular target of the program in recent years has been K-12 education.

TWIN was intended to introduce teachers to Nepal and the Himalayas, and especially to the environmental and cultural complexities of the allocation and management of natural resources in Nepal. Such issues are particularly relevant to many of Oregon’s teachers. Oregon shares with Nepal a mountainous spine, high and dry desert, wet, green lowland, and productive inner valleys. A land of farmers, herders, and a skyrocketing population of city folk, Nepal, like Oregon, struggles to cope with accelerating change in society and economy. Nepal, like Oregon, must find ways to reconcile competing demands for the natural resources that support its people.

TWIN was planned (1) to give teachers an experience of another place and its peoples; (2) to prepare teachers to infuse their classrooms and curricula with new international studies materials and to share their experiences with the larger community; (3) to engage teachers in geography-based field work in the Himalayas, promoting an understanding of the environment and appreciation for resource use and conservation practices in Nepal, and providing a global context for Oregon resource questions.

TWIN was also designed to enhance teachers’ geographic knowledge. Since the inception in the 1980s of the twin stimuli of the National Geographic Society’s Geographic Alliance Network and the Goals 2000 federal legislation for implementation of national geography standards, geographic education in K-12 schools has been in the process of a comprehensive transformation. Teachers’ perceptions of geography are no longer confined to names of
state capitals and mountain ranges, and teachers are being given access to the most up-todate content and tools of the discipline. The result of the Alliance activity and the implementation of national and statewide geographic standards has been the development of programs such as TWIN.

The Oregon Geographic Alliance, established and funded by the National Geographic Society in 1986, was a key partner in TWIN, both in terms of funding and design. The OGA’s purpose is to enhance and improve geographic education in Oregon, in schools, and in the community. To this end, OGA has directed teacher education institutes, sponsored teacher presentations at national meetings, worked with teachers to develop model lessons and model curriculum materials, and contributed extensively to efforts in education reform in Oregon.

Oregon teachers in particular were ripe for the experiential opportunities the TWIN Project provided. Many of Oregon’s teachers work at a great distance from Portland, the only large city in the state, and their access to people and resources from other cultures has been limited. In addition, Oregon property tax limitations, reducing school funding just when education reform has been mandated, have meant that teachers have fewer resources to teach an ever-expanding curriculum. TWIN has helped fill the breach by providing teachers with content, materials, and dissemination outlets. Teachers selected for TWIN were eager to commit not only to the rigorous field experience planned for Nepal, but also to the ongoing curriculum development obligations that followed.

REFERENCES

Lineback, Neal. “Geography in the News: Disaster on Everest.” National Council for Geographic Education Perspective 25 (4).

Salter, Kit, and Cathy Salter. “The Wonder of Geography.” Journal of Geography 96(4).

Shirey, Ruth. “Learning Activity: High Mountain Environments in Nepal and China.” National Council for Geographic Education – Perspective 25 (4).

RESOURCES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

CORNELL-NEPAL STUDY PROGRAM Box 8452 Kirtipur, Kathmandu NEPAL

NEPAL STUDIES ASSOCIATION John Metz, President Department of History and Geography Northern Kentucky University Nunn Drive Highland Heights, KY 41099 606-572-5462

HIMALAYAN RESEARCH BULLETIN Geography Department Portland State University Portland, OR 97307-0751 1-800-547-8887; ext. 5-8312

A SHORT READING LIST ON NEPAL AND THE SHERPA

Bista, Dor Bahadur. The People of Nepal. Kathmandu: Ratna Pustak Bhandar, 1967. Tenzing of Everest (Tenzing Norgay Sherpa) with J. R. Ullman. Tiger of the Snows. New York: J.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1955.

POLITICS AND HISTORY

Adams, Vincanne. Tigers of the Snow and other Virtual Sherpas. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.

Brower, Barbara. The Sherpa of Khumbu: People, Livestock, and Landscape. Delhi: Oxford University Press 1991, (1992, 1994 Oxford India Paperbacks).

Fisher, James F. Sherpas. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990. Hutt, Michael, ed. Nepal in the Nineties. Delhi: Oxford, 1995.

Ortner, Sherry B. High Religion. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.

Regmi, Mahesh C. Thatched Huts and Stucco Palaces. New Delhi: Vikas, 1978.

Stevens, Stanley F. Claiming the High Ground. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

von Furer Haimendorf, Christof. The Sherpas of Nepal. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964.  Other works, too: Transhimalayan Traders (1975) and The Sherpas Transformed (1984).

CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

Heinrichs, Ann. Nepal: Enchantment of the World. New York: Children’s Press, 1996.

POPULAR INTERPRETATION

Bernstein, Jeremy. The Wildest Dreams of Kew. New York: Putnam, 1969.

Coburn, Broughton. Amaa in America. New York: Anchor Books, 1995.

Downs, Hugh. Rhythms of a Himalayan Village. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1980.

Hillary, Edmund and Louise. Schoolhouse in the Clouds, A Yak for Christmas, etc.

Iyer, Pico. Video Night in Kathmandu, 1986.

Scott, Barbara J. The Violet Shyness of their Eyes. Corvallis: Calyx Books.

INTERNET RESOURCES ON NEPAL AND THE HIMALAYAS SINHAS:

http://jhunix.hcf.jhu.edu/~deschene/si nhas/index.html

HIMAL SOUTH ASIA

http://www.south-asia.com.himal

NAMASTE HOMEPAGE:

http://www. interstep.co.jp/namaste/

POLITICAL RESOURCES ON THE NET NEPAL:

http://www.agora.stm.it/ politic/nepal.html

HIMALAYAN ONLINE NEWS SERVICE:

http://www.himonews.com/list_web site/internet_resources.html NEPAL ADDRESSES: http://www.wtgonline.com/country/ np/add.html

SHERPA FRIENDSHIP ASSOC.:

http://www.bend.com/sherpa!/sfa/SF A_home.html NEPAL HOME PAGE: http://www/ info-nepal.com

CENTER FOR SOUTH ASIA-UNIV. WISCONSIN:

http://www.wisc.edu/southasia

ASIAN STUDIES WWW VIRTUAL LIBRARY:

http://combs.anu.edu.au/wwwv_asians tudies.html

NEPAL WWW VIRTUAL LIBRARY:

http://www.catmando.com/nepal.htm

COLUMBIA UNIV. SOUTH ASIA GOPHER:

gopher://gopher.cc.colum bia.edu:71/11/clioplus/scholarly/south asia

COLUMBIA UNIV. SOUTH ASIA RESOURCE ACCESS ON INTERNET:

http://www.columbia. edu/cu/ libraries/indiv/area/sarai

KATHMANDU POST:

www.south asia.com/news-ktmpost.html

NEPAL DEPT. OF TOURISM:

www.south-asia.com/dotn/index.html