Bhawana Shrestha
8 min readSep 28, 2022

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14 First Experiences in 14 Days (Fellowship Reflection Series #12 and #13)

8:30 am Wednesday(September 28, 2022)

Coming back to this desk feels different, a little more exciting since Anthony is also back from Kenya.

In these two weeks, a lot of things happened one after another and I needed time to process that. I am still processing them and will be sharing once I get hold of those experiences completely. But also don’t want to slag behind my regular weekly reflection. So here is my reflection from two weeks, some of them raw and fresh while the others I had already shared on my other social media platforms. Since I took two weeks off from writing a blog, here’s compensation for myself, trying to figure out and write 14 new experiences that I had in the last two weeks.

  1. Not using google maps- Though people keep on warning me to not roam around the way I am doing, somehow I feel safe here. I haven’t walked this much every day in Nepal till 10 pm. Not that Nepal is unsafe, but females are told to be cautious everywhere. But here I am experimenting with myself, doing things that I never used to do before, exploring places, and this particular day, I didn’t use google maps. I had a place in mind, boarded a bus, dropped off, and just started walking. I happened to go to a beautiful park. The next day I did the same and realized I was at a botanical garden. It was adventurous yet fun to see this side of me.

2. A night out with friends — Apart from a few days at two of my friends' places in Dharan during my undergrad days that too for study, I had never spent a night in my friends' house. With fewer friends in itself, and more focused on studying, I guess, I had never gone out and stayed at a friend’s place just for some dinner or a fun night. Actually, the idea for this day was also not to stay with my friend but just to spend an evening sharing our poems, which we did and it was so fun that it continued till late night and we decided to stay there. It was a fun night with good food, good conversations, and good music.

3. Cycling on the roads of DC — What I am liking about social media is that I am meeting a lot of new people through it. People with whom I was in contact and could relate virtually are some of the few ones that I am meeting in person here and I am enjoying it a lot. Sweta was someone I met two weeks back. She is not the first person whom I met via my social media but something that I did for the first time was cycling around DC with her. It was a fun ride around the city, actually a new way to look at the city.

4. Participated in United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)— Apart from watching what happens in UNGA on the television screen, I had never ever thought, imagined, or even dreamed of being in that seat. But somehow work brought me here and ‘happiness’ is an underestimation of the emotion that I felt when I was sitting there. It was also a feeling of mourning to not see any representation of my country. Hopefully, one day we will make it there, and the teachers of Nepal will make it there in that decision-making conversation.

5. Became a part of live Jazz Music — Jazz is always in my background when I am working on something, especially writing, it just helps me focus. For the first time, I watched Jazz, that too from Mimi Jones, and I was mesmerized. We actually had to go through quite an ordeal to reach this place as it was our first day in New York; trying to find the place, then board the metro, got stuck as it broke down, and then run down the street so that we would reach the place on time. In the end, everything was worth it, and yeah then Heena and I used the rest of the night exploring Manhattan. Also, I did go to an Indian Classical Live show in DC for the first time too.

6. Met Husband’s best friend — Rana is my husband’s best buddy with whom he had only connected virtually. It was my first time meeting his friend before him. Just a few moments with her and I could see how they are connected. I had a fun time connecting with her in my own ways.

7. Wore Haku Patasi — I had never worn Hakupatasi in my life. But when I was told that I would be presenting at an event at UNGA, I had made up my mind that I would be wearing Hakupatasi even if I didn’t know how to. It was all at the last moment, I called my mom and borrowed her dress. She did the stitching for me at the last minute even without measuring me and voila, I was there wearing them in the event with Manaski, Janatar, and Lachhadori.

8. Ate Begal — This experience is unique because I wasn’t only eating Begal for the first time but it was about someone making me a priority as a friend and a colleague. Joanna, whom I had only sat in at least four zoom conversations during Covid for a project that we were working together for UNICEF had actually taken a half day off just to spend time with me and to help me see parts of Newyork. Though all of them had been sharing about how I should be tasting Begal before I leave Newyork, I hadn’t taken that into consideration but since Joanna made that time for me, I followed her and it did taste good, my first Begal.

9. Presented in front of around 80 global leaders working in education —I have presented about me, my research, and My Emotions Matter in front of the global audience before as well. But it was quite different this time as all of them were leaders leading some renowned organizations and some people whom I had only read about and would have never imagined meeting. But seeing them in person, talking to them, and presenting my work was something I would never forget.

10. Participated in Mexican Independence Rally — The streets of Newyork were busy, literally busy 24 hours. I am not usually used to such busy roads, but yeah one thing that lightened up my mood was the Mexican independence rally that covered the street disrupting the busy streets. It was fun and vibrant and I did have my first Mexican drink ( I forgot the name) on the street.

11. Reconnecting with someone whom I had only met once- Because I keep on writing and sharing my experiences, most people think that I am a very extroverted person who connects to people quickly. This is not true. I am a very introverted person who hesitates to have a lot of in-person meetings. I even hesitate to approach people. But I did it this time and approached to Kashish whom I had met only once in Nepal for his summer fellowship and asked him if he could show us around Harvard University, which he was happy to do.

12. Visited Newyork National Library — Libraries fascinate me. It might be because we do not get access to a lot of books in Nepal. But to visit one of the best libraries and then go through the list of available banned books and see how people can roam around freely, and work there freely made me envious of the resources this country has. Hopefully, academics like me find similar resources in our countries too within our lifetime.

13. Stayed with someone without hesitation for three days — Juni is someone I feel connected with. Though our relationship is mostly a teacher and a student relationship, that too from 10 years back, I guess we have surpassed that and have moved beyond it. As said, I don’t usually stay in someone else’s home but with Juni, it was a different kind of comfort. When she invited me, I actually didn’t ask for the address. I just bought the train ticket and on the day when I was actually nearby the dropoff station, then I asked where does she live and where should I come. Those three days, I never felt any discomfort. Also, she is the most hospitable host that I have ever met. Yes, living in a student’s place was my first experience.

14. Had the longest train ride — I had traveled via train in Finland and in Austria. But those were brief. For the last two weeks, I only traveled by train and it was the longest, first, it took around 4 hours to reach to Newyork from DC, and second again I took 8 hours train from DC to Boston. I loved the experience, a very quiet reflective experience where you could be on your own, read, write or watch the scenery. Sometimes you get warned too (hehe). I without noticing actually sat in a quiet zone while returning. I happened to take a brief call and someone from the passengers complained that I took a call. So my seat number was announced and I was warned not to use my phone or else I would be placed in another seat. After that I was a quiet kid, so they didn’t change my seat. But, of course, that was an interesting first-train experience.

A random view from the train

Up for some more first experiences in the coming days. Thanks for reading if you actually made it to the end. Have a good day, folks!

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