Valentine’s Day stories

I wouldn’t have expected to find Valentine’s Day stories in an MBA class, but that’s where ten of them appeared today.

This was an induction session for new MBA students at King’s College, Kathmandu. There were 60 students, seated in tables with six each.

Narottam Aryal and Arjun Rijal, the instructors, gave each group a photograph of  contemporary life in Nepal. The groups were to discuss “What do you see, feel, wonder?”

Most initially focused on surface features (a family on a motorbike), but soon they generated more complex and varying interpretations. They inferred things such as that it was a middle-class family, which valued education.

The groups then received nine more images. They were asked to choose five or so from among these, make up a story, then use glue stick, scissors, markers and poster stock to prepare a presentation.

After 30 minutes, each group shared its story. Some were love and family stories, appropriate to the day. One focused on Nepal itself; another imagined a British tourist taking the photos to memorialize his visit, which happens to be an account not far from the actual source of the images.

Groups also shared what they learned, with comments about teamwork, valuing different perspectives, learning about each other, even about themselves, and deeper understanding of topics such as rural development in Nepal.

For me, the class reinforced the idea that students can display engagement, initiative, creativity, attention to detail, thoughtful reading, writing, speaking, and listening if only given the chance. There are undoubtedly technical skills needed for MBA’s that did not emerge here, but it’s hard to imagine a better foundation for studying those.

Their creativity was all the more remarkable since the class began at 6:30 am!

The photos came from my book, Progressive Education In Nepal: The Community Is the Curriculum.

Blow Me Down

Towards Lark Harbour

Towards Lark Harbour

Trail through forest

Trail through forest

Trail through open area

Trail through open area

When, in the middle of August, you need to light up the wood stove to warm your feet, there’s snow at 2000 feet, and an iceberg floats by your cabin window, you know that you’re in an unusual place.

A close encounter with a caribou on a hiking trail, meeting a traditional carver of stone and bone, and eating cod caught a few hours earlier by the restaurant owner’s two young sons add to the pleasant surprises. But the most remarkable thing about Newfoundland are the stories.

Serpentinite

Serpentinite

Every local we meet seems to have a trove of stories, freely mixing what some Viking did a thousand years ago with what they ate for breakfast. And every place, remarkable though it may be on its own terms, comes packaged with intertwined history, myths, and legends,

Beyond the island in front of our lodging in York Harbour was the Blow Me Down Mountain (650 m). Its name comes from the story in which Captain Messervey in 1771 anchored his boat below the range and said “I hope they don’t blow me down!” To this day it’s famous for its powerful winds that blow in every direction at once. It’s also known as an amphitheater that amplifies the sound of thunder. I heard stories of walkers fleeing in terror when Thor seemed to go on a rampage.

Blow Me Down mountain

Blow Me Down mountain

Stairway in a cave

Stairway in a cave

There have been at least 17 communities that share the odd name of Blow Me Down, not to mention mountains, mountain ranges, parks, and other geographical objects.

We took a walk through Blow Me Down Provincial Park nearby, which generated some personal stories to add to the corpus. The trail was beautiful, but a bit of a workout, because of the mud and running water from a recent storm. My activity tracker thought it was more than 100 floors up.