Monthly Archives: May 2013

Padma Kanya, Pashupathinath, Patan Dhokami and … Paint !

Traveling to Padma Kanya Campus the next morning by rickshaw meant that we all arrived in time for our interaction session where staff and students from both PK and LJMU shared presentations on their research interests and took the opportunity to meet new people.

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Talks ranged from the topics being studied on gender education as women’s right to child maternal mortality and uterine prolapse. It was excellent to see everyone present their ideas so clearly and thanks is due to all the staff and students at PK who,attending making the morning a great success.

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Whilst visiting the Hindu temple and cremation site at Pashnupathi Nath some of the students took the opportunity to visit the Bidra Ashram – Old People’s Home close by. Whilst a peaceful location the home is in need of having the rooms and facilities upgraded but the activity and energy of the residents the gave the students food for thought as they compared them to those back at home.

The peace museum at Patan dhoka, established by Kundan Dixit, was a sobering reminder of the conflict and its impact Nepal and serves as a reminder as one of the books by Kunda is aplenty named .. Never again. http://www.apeoplewar.com.np

Following in from this an impromptu visit to Sattaya Arts collective and the amazing graffiti gave us the opportunity to experience the Kolor Kathmandu project in action details of which are found here and on facebook http://kolorkathmandu.sattya.org/

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In keeping with a peaceful end to our hectic day a sunset visit to Swayambu was squeezed in before once again heading back to Thamel.

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Krazy Kathmandu

Starting the day off meeting Indira from Prisoners Assistance Nepal was an excellent induction to the challenges faced by women in prison in Nepal. Indira shared her stories of fighting for women’s rights and her work in supporting their families to reduce the impact that prison sentences in Nepal have on society here in Kathmandu. Walking to PAN with her gave everyone an opportunity to see Nepal through the eyes of a truly inspirational activist.

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Following on from this we were taken to the Organic Farm and new location of Bike Zone which provides an excellent community centre on the outskirts of Kathmandu as well as being a social enterprise with all profits going back to support PAN. Students returned later in the week to go on a bike tour and can recommend it as an experience not to be missed if you have them on your hands whilst in Kathmandu and want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. The ridiculous size of our bus meant we had to walk to get there which showed yet another side of Nepal to the tourist centre that is Thamel.

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Lunch was provided for us at the Women’s Foundation and an excellent, though somewhat depressing talk, on the challenges facing many women in Nepal today. The work being done by staff at the women’s foundation though gave us all some hope that a new Nepal is possible, where women’s rights are upheld, where gender based violence is challenged and eradicated and where the world as envisaged by the women’s foundation is achievable.

The day ended with a much needed rest stop at Boudnath Stupa before heading back to the Kathmandu Guest House and the charms of Thamel awaited!

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Geography Sociology … same same but different

Geography sociology what is the difference ? Something I have pondered over the past year and the one thing that stands out is the tradition and value placed on field trips within Geography as an essential benchmarked skill. With the redeployment of myself and my colleagues into Sociology and Criminology we have taken with us our passion for Geography into our new positions. My colleague Dr Giles Barrett won an award for innovative teaching based on his development of a field work module for criminology students paving the way for further work in this area.

Whilst I have brought students to Nepal over the years who have been studying Geography this is my first time leading a trip of sociology and criminology students. All of them have developed research proposals and conducted background research into topics which interest them, which in this group of 13 range from women in prisons, education and disabilities, community police and gender and policing to the role of cooperatives in routing development and the aspirations of women in higher education.

From the minute the students landed it was full steam ahead. For many of them it was their first time traveling to Asia and the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu was a surprise. After settling into the Kathmandu Guest House they all went out into Thamel on an orientation task to familiarise themselves with the environment. This included taking photos, seeking recommendations for places to eat and noting down their observations in their diaries. It was to the the start of an intense journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara to Chitwan and back …. one that I hoped would have a lasting impact …. I’ll post my blogs on my journey and look forward to reading their reports to read about theirs! Maybe they will even comment here ?

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Was glad I met the students at the airport !

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Studying society … Studying what matters.

Dr Lee Crookes, from Sheffield University, gave an excellent guest lecture at the Studying Society Student conference in March just before i headed off to Nepal – been meaning to blog about it ever since but just not had time to reflect – so here is a summary of the things i wanted to say.

The student conference ran in the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool with the main aim of giving first year students at my University an opportunity to present their research projects as part the assessment for the tutorial module.

Lee spoke with passion and commitment about his experiences of growing up in South Yorkshire and the impact that this had had on him not only as person but on his interest as an academic in his interest in researching the underlying causes of inequality and injustice. He talked about the miners strike, growing up in Thatcherite Britain and how this has influenced his research interests that he pursues today http://www.shef.ac.uk/trp/staff/leecrookes

Lee reflected on his own name, influence by the popularity of the tv programme the Six million dollar man in the 1970’s, and pointed out there are very few academics named Lee. According to one study if you are called Lee you are most likely to be …… in prison ! My favourite heading though from his excellent slides was the one where he reflected on conference papers that had been on offer at the America Association of Geographers Conference – you could choose from session titled … Dogs on holiday – the geography of toothbrushes or the sociology of shoes !! He wasn’t surprised but was some what disheartened to find that these sessions were better attended than the sessions held on poverty and inequality that he went to.

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Lee’s work on housing market renewal and the threat that is facing working class people and marginalised disenfranchised communities proved a timely reflection given the bedroom tax currently being implemented within the UK which is going to have a massive impact on society and will undoubtably lead to an increase in poverty on our own door steps. These are the types of issues students will study at LJMU noodles such as critical policy and protest and resistance as well as modules on housing and society.

The commitment Lee has to his research and exposing the inequalities and stigmatisation that government policies have on the everyday person was clear from his presentation – I would highly recommend taking the opportunity to hear Lee speak at future events and also read his work in this area. He shared the stories of local people who have fought and resisted compulsory purchase orders and exposed the impact of ill thought out policies.

Whilst Lee noted it is very difficult to get ‘evidence’ to show the impacts of these policies on people’s health and well being as stories can often be dismissed as anecdotal – Lees talk highlighted the need to listen to local people, gather and share their stories to not dismiss the dismissible but to take the time to listen to voices to share good practice and too use your social science skills and knowledge to make a difference in the world – not only in the wider world but in the local works in which you live here and now.

I hope students rise to Lee’s call and make the most of the opportunities they have whilst studying at LJMU to get involved, research real world issues, to protest and take action and to realise their full potential.

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